The state of South Carolina was always considered a “firewall” for Hillary Clinton and a key state in her quest to become the 45th President of the United States. The campaign has expressed cautious optimism in discussing this “firewall” and the possible margin of her “inevitable” victory in South Carolina. In the end, not only was the state of South Carolina truly a “firewall” for Hillary Clinton, it became a “firestorm” for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, as Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders by 48 percentage points, 74 percent to 26 percent. It was not just the African-American vote because Clinton swept in all categories of voters. It was indeed a stunning victory and could be final for the candidate that was always considered “inevitable” since 2008. In a subtle way, Hillary Clinton turned away from Bernie Sanders and toward Donald Trump, a man now also considered “inevitable.” Hillary Clinton delivered her victory speech on Saturday night at the USC Volleyball Center in Columbia, South Carolina, and was clearly referring to Trump when she said, “Despite what you hear, we don’t need to make America great again,” she said. “America has never stopped being great. But we do need to make America whole again. Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers.”
In another obvious shot at Trump’s belittling of opponents and his dire warnings about America’s decline, Hillary Clinton added in her speech, “I know it sometimes seems a little odd for someone running for president in these days and this time to say we need more love and kindness in America. But I’m telling you, from the bottom my heart, we do. We do. We have so much to look forward to. There’s no doubt in my mind that America’s best years are ahead of us.”
The decisive victory in South Carolina sets the stage for what the New York Times calls a “Sweep of the South in a few days on Super Tuesday and puts the burden on Mr. Sanders to post decisive victories elsewhere.” It does not appear Sanders can reverse course, but he and his supporters can take solace in the fact that he has changed the tone of the dialogue in the campaign, on many issues, including the undue influence of Wall Street and money on our politics.
Sanders congratulated Clinton on her victory before the polls even closed, but Sanders also said in a statement that on “Tuesday over 800 delegates are at stake and I intend to win many, many of them.” In a speech in Rochester, Minnesota, following Hillary Clinton’s victory speech, Sanders continued talking about his themes of income inequality and the issue of campaign contributions. Sanders also called on Clinton to release the transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street bankers over the past years.
However, the night belonged to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been a changed person the past several weeks, some saying that she has found her voice.