Clinton wins South Carolina primary ahead of Super Tuesday

Monday February 29 2016

US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters after addressing a primary night rally in Columbia, South Carolina, on February 27, 2016. Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders by an overwhelming margin in the Democratic primary in South Carolina. PHOTO | AFP

US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters after addressing a primary night rally in Columbia, South Carolina, on February 27, 2016. Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders by an overwhelming margin in the Democratic primary in South Carolina. PHOTO | AFP 

By AFP
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COLUMBIA, United States, Sunday

Hillary Clinton scored a resounding victory against Bernie Sanders in Saturday's Democratic primary in South Carolina, seizing momentum ahead of the most important day of the nomination race: this week’s “Super Tuesday” showdown.

Four weeks into the White House primaries, the former secretary of state earned her first decisive win of the campaign, after a nail-biter victory in Iowa, a thumping loss to Sanders in New Hampshire, and then a five-point win in Nevada.

South Carolina was the first southern state to vote for a 2016 Democratic nominee, before the race broadens to 11 contests across the country.

“Tomorrow this campaign goes national,” Clinton said to a loud roar as she thanked supporters in Columbia, South Carolina, where she emerged with a clearer path to the nomination.

“We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything, and we are not taking anyone, for granted.”

US networks called the race for Clinton immediately after polls closed in the Palmetto State, where the majority of Democratic voters are African-American, a voting bloc that she and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have successfully courted for decades.

'MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN'

Mrs Clinton also looked beyond her battle with Mr Sanders, tweaking the man many now see as the likely Republican nominee: Donald Trump, whose campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again.”

“Despite what you hear, we don’t need to make America great again. America has never stopped being great,” she said, reading off a teleprompter.

“But we do need to make America whole again,” she added, laying out an argument against the divisive rhetoric favored by Trump, who has antagonized immigrants, Muslims and campaign rivals.

“I know it sometimes seems a little odd for someone running for president these days and in this time to say we need more love and kindness in America,” she added.

“But I am telling you from the bottom of my heart, we do.” With 99 per cent of precincts reporting, Mrs Clinton stood at 73.5 per cent compared to 26 percent for Sanders.

A TURNING POINT

The comprehensive victory marks a moment of redemption for Clinton who in 2008 lost badly in the state to Barack Obama — his win here serving as a turning point for his ultimately victorious campaign.

Exit polls in South Carolina showed African-Americans — who represented 61 percent of all Democratic voters in the primary — backed Clinton by a stunning 86 per cent, more than had supported Obama eight years prior.

Mrs Clinton assiduously courted black voters, in part by praising Mr Obama and promising to build on his legacy.

She also campaigned alongside black surrogates, and visited African-American churches and historically black colleges.