Hillary versus Trump for the White House looks almost certain
Both candidates for the US presidential elections have braced themselves for the battles ahead.
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Hillary Clinton is back! In a campaign that has often been unpredictable and tumultuous, Hillary defeated Senator Bernie Sanders in Nevada and made it clear to the Democratic Party that she both deserves the nomination and can win the 2016 presidential election.
On Saturday, with votes from 88 per cent of the caucus precincts counted, Hillary had won 52.6 per cent while Sanders had 47.4 per cent.
She climbed to the top spot with the enthusiastic support of minority voters - largely Latinos and Blacks, and she had determinedly and doggedly pursued to convince both these groups that she would be a voice for them. Hillary seemed relieved that she had rebounded after the disappointing defeat in the New Hampshire primary.
The first thing she said in her victory speech was: “Some may have doubted us but we never doubted each other. And this one’s for you.”
Hillary added that she dedicated her campaign to “hotel and casino workers” who worked long and hard and to “thousands of men and women with kids to raise, bills to pay and dreams that won’t die”. And to “students with too much debt and small business owners who never go off the clock”.
“You turned out in every corner of this state, with determination and purpose,” she said.
Hillary seemed eager to reach out to the angry, disenchanted voters who have been drawn to Sanders, who is the “anti-establishment candidate”.
“We look at our country and see so much that isn’t working the way it should,” she acknowledged.
“Americans have a right to be angry, but we‘re also hungry for real solutions.”
Hillary ran a somewhat unusual campaign this time. A dignified, reserved person, always conscious of her status as a former secretary of state, Hillary posted photographs with pop singer Britney Spears and met sex workers. She was not only endorsed by 500 of them but they also created a group called “Hookers 4 Hillary”.
A little Latino girl who cried while hugging Hillary and confided that she lived in the constant fear of her parents being “illegal” became the subject of advertisement on immigration reform.
Hillary has made it a point to say that “everyone of us has a role to play in building the future we want”.
However, Sanders is not ready to call it a day yet. In his concession speech, he accepted the loss but pointed out that his campaign has attracted the largest number of young people and he is certain that he will go on to win the other primaries and ultimately the Democratic nomination.
“We have come a very long way in nine months. The wind is at our backs. We have the momentum,” Sanders said.
Still the pundits say that Hillary’s win has placed her in a strong position and they say she is likely to win the primaries on “Super Tuesday”, that is on March 1 and that she is a sure bet for the Democratic nomination. She is campaigning non-stop and is already on her way to Houston for a rally.
“I’m on my way to Texas. Bill is on his way to Colorado. The fight goes on!” she said to the cheering crowd, who screamed “Hillary! Hillary!”
Meanwhile, the ugly infighting on the Republican side has made Donald Trump the main beneficiary.
In the South Carolina primary, the billionaire candidate grabbed 33 per cent of the votes, which does not seem much, but in a divided field of candidates, it’s a very significant number.
Trump has strengthened the grip on the Republican nomination and he jubilantly announced to his supporters, “Let’s put this thing away!”
This is Trump’s second triumphant victory (pardon the pun) and has historians calculating his odds. They say no Republican has ever won both New Hampshire and South Carolina and not been handed the nomination.
He seems prepared for the battles ahead. He told the cheering crowd at his victory rally, “There’s nothing easy about running for president. It’s tough, it’s nasty, it’s mean. It’s vicious. It’s beautiful, when you win it’s beautiful.”
With 99.9 per cent of the all precincts reported, freshman senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were at 22.5 per cent and 22.3 per cent respectively. (New, unconfirmed reports say that Rubio has a very narrow edge but the figures aren’t in yet.)
Ohio governor John Kasich and Jeb Bush were tied at 7.8 per cent and Dr Ben Carson got 7.2 per cent. Bush decided to withdraw but Carson vows to keep on fighting.
“This has now become a three-person race,” Rubio simply said.
Bush was the one-time Republican front runner and is a member of a famous political family. And even though his family campaigned for him hard in South Carolina, where they are extremely popular, he did not do well.
In an emotional speech, Bush said, “I firmly believe the American people must entrust this office to someone who understands that whoever holds it is a servant, not the master.”
Political pundits speculated that it was a reference to Trump’s strong aggressive personality. This past week alone, Trump had a very public back and forth with Pope Francis on immigration. He threatened to sue Cruz and even accused former President George W Bush of lying about the Iraq war.
Trump has amassed a huge list of people and groups he has insulted. They include Mexicans, Muslims, women and the disabled.
His winnings are a reflection of two hard facts. One, that he can say whatever he wants and get away with it. Two, this election has brought to surface the fact that voters are so angry and disappointed with “career politicans” that they are willing to bet on unconventional outsider “candidates” like Trump and Sanders.
Next up: Democrats will go to South Carolina and Republicans will go to Nevada.