PARTANBURG, United States
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump grabbed a big win in the South Carolina primary Sunday, while Democrat Hillary Clinton breathed life into her sluggish campaign with a victory over Bernie Sanders in Nevada.
The wins for the brash billionaire and the former secretary of state give the candidates a major boost heading into the next major phase of the White House race — Super Tuesday on March 1, when about a dozen states go to the polls.
But the rough-and-tumble campaign claimed another victim when former Florida governor Jeb Bush — brother and son to two US presidents — dropped out of the race after another poor showing.
In South Carolina, the 69-year-old Trump triumphed, capturing about a third of the votes, with about 87 per cent of the precincts reporting.
His supporters erupted in a roar when CNN called the contest in his favour — his second win of the nominations race after New Hampshire and an important test of the strength of his bid to succeed President Barack Obama.
“There is nothing easy about running for president, I can tell you,” Trump told his victory party in Spartanburg. “It’s tough, it’s nasty. It’s mean. It’s vicious. It’s beautiful.”
“When you win, it’s beautiful,” he added to cheers.
After several nail-biting hours, final results showed that the second place in the Palmetto State went to Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Mr Rubio eked out a narrow 22.5 percent victory over Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who had 22.3 percent of the vote.
Both are Cuban-American first-time senators. “After tonight, this has become a three-person race and we will win the nomination,” a confident Rubio proclaimed.
In Nevada, Clinton claimed a major win. With about 88 per cent of precincts reporting, Clinton was at 52.6 per cent to 47.4 per cent for Sanders.
“This is your campaign, and it is a campaign to break down every barrier that holds you back,” Clinton said in her victory speech at her Caesars Palace headquarters on the Las Vegas Strip.