Donald Trump won 32.5% of the vote in the South Carolina Republican Primary tonight, Saturday, February 20, 2016 to claim the undisputed lead in the race for the presidential nomination, according to Fox News. Marco Rubio took 22.5% of the vote to claim second place against Texas Senator Ted Cruz who had 22.3% of the tally late Saturday night. Trump built on the momentum he gained from a smashing victory in the New Hampshire Primary a little over a week ago. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush bowed out of the race as he garnered 7.8% in the Palmetto State.
Fox host Jeanine Pirro mentioned that every Republican candidate in history who has carried both New Hampshire and South Carolina has won the presidential nomination. She asked guest Charlie Black if that meant Trump had clinched the GOP nomination. Black said he didn’t think so as he thought Rubio was looking good as a mainstream candidate.
Pirro said she thought Trump did well especially considering he had a dispute with the Pope during the past week. The Pope reportedly said anyone who believes in walls couldn’t be a Christian. It was a reference to the fact the New York businessman has said he would build a wall along the border with Mexico to halt illegal immigration into the U.S. Trump replied the Vatican had a wall around it. Observers speculated as to whether the attack by the Pope would damage Trump. However, voters gave Trump a double-digit victory in spite of the Pope’s criticism of him. Black speculated the exchange with the Pope helped Trump since it was the Italian pontiff who initiated the attack on the New York real estate mogul. The Pontiff has received considerable blowback for his attacks on U.S. Presidential candidates. Observers have reported American voters are resentful of a foreign religious leader housed in Italy trying to influence the presidential election.
Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia, said very few people would’ve thought Trump would have these two victories and Bush would be dropping out of the race after South Carolina. He also said no one would have predicted Hillary Clinton would have so much trouble with a 74-year old Socialist from Vermont named Bernie Sanders. She hung on to edge Sanders in the Nevada caucuses tonight. The vote was 52.6% to 47.3% in Nevada with Clinton hanging on after a dogfight.
Sabato said Trump has dominated the free media despite his millions of dollars. Sabato predicted Sanders would stay in the race longer now because he is raising a lot of money. In his concession speech, Sanders said the “wind was at his back.”
Trump walked out of South Carolina with 55 delegates. Trump next heads to Nevada where he has a huge lead in the polls. Pirro said she thought Trump has really evolved as a political candidate during this campaign.
Trump said, “I’ve been saying, ‘let’s make America great again,’ let’s make it even greater.”‘
Trump further said, “The evangelicals, the military, people that want strong borders, it was a great victory.”
“I think we’re going to do fantastically in Nevada. We’re going to do well in the SEC. And our numbers are up in Florida,” Trump said Saturday night.
Monica Crowley told Sean Hannity, ” The momentum is with the outsider in this race. If Ben Carson and Jeb Bush drop out it will change the dynamics of the race. Trump is projecting confidence and authority. I think he’s in the driver’s seat for the nomination if he continues down this road.”
Geraldo Rivera said , “Trump’s strength is his words are like ghosts…..the people see in Trump what they want to see.”
Hannity said, “He’s unfiltered. Seven out of ten people in South Carolina want somebody who’s truthful.”
Newt Gingrich called into Hannity’s show and said, “It’s a huge victory for Trump. He should go to Nevada and go to every meeting he can between now and the caucuses there. He has really evolved as a candidate in seven months.”
Gingrich, who won South Carolina four years ago, said, “Rubio had a good night. What he has to do is become the establishment candidate. He has to get their support if he is to win the nomination.”
Sanders supporters have criticized the Democratic Party’s undemocratic primary system which involves superdelegates. Superdelegates are establishment members of the party which have given Clinton the lead even though she was destroyed by 20 points in New Hampshire. More evidence that the Democratic Party has rigged this process in favor of Clinton is the fact she was awarded delegates in the Iowa Caucuses based on six consecutive coin tosses which all miraculously landed in her favor. In Nevada, the Democratic Party used card tricks to help their favorite win. A member of Clinton’s team drew an ace from a deck of cards to clinch one caucus win.
It’s pretty clear the Democratic Party machinery is not going to let Sanders win this nomination no matter how many votes and delegates he collects. With DNC members and other party hacks serving as superdelegates, one wonders why Clinton has at times appeared stressed during the race so far. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has carefully scheduled most of the few debates the Democrats have at times no one is watching television so Clinton won’t be hurt by poor performances.
Clearly, Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. Trump is in the driver’s seat in the Republican Party race with only Rubio and Cruz still in contention to challenge him. Ben Carson received about 7% of the vote and is no longer a serious challenger. John Kasich was in the 7% range and clearly has no chance.
One expert on Fox said if Trump gets the nomination he will get up to 20% of the Democrats vote during the general election. Trump’s son referred to his dad as the “blue collar billionaire”, meaning even though he’s rich he can communicate with blue collar workers.
CNN analysts wondered what the effect of Bush’s withdrawal would have on the GOP race. To whom would Bush’s voters go? Would Bush recommend they go to any particular candidate? Bush has no love for Trump who labeled him “low energy” early in the campaign. But Bush probably feels betrayed by Rubio. Bush was Rubio’s mentor in Florida at one time.
Detractors of Rubio still wonder about his Gang of Eight actions in which he purportedly showed he was weak on protecting the border from illegal immigration. Cruz is still in the running as he pursues the evangelical vote in the upcoming SEC primaries plus Texas.