Savaging George W. Bush for September 11 and battling Pope Francis didn’t seem to hurt – and likely helped – Donald Trump win decisively in the South Carolina GOP primary this afternoon.
TV news pundits began to foam over as they envisioned a world in which Trump “runs the table” – as Donald himself forecast – after winning South Carolina.
“Does this represent the defeat of skepticism?” wondered one incredulous CNN navel lint gazer.
With 98% of the votes in, Trump was South Carolina’s GOP primary winner with 32.5% of the vote. Marco Rubio followed with 22.5% to Ted Cruz’s 22.3%. Jeb Bush (& family) followed at 7.9%, closely followed by John Kasich’s 7.6% and Ben Carson’s 7.2%.
TV commentators struggled to comprehend Trump having handily taken a state so heavily evangelical and, traditionally, pro-Bush.
“When Donald Trump win’s it’s almost like he’s amazed by it,” another gazer insisted, maybe thinking of his tweet earlier in the afternoon:
Trump seemed anything but surprised as he took the stage for his victory lap. After thanking his family – though not each one of them individually, as he had done in New Hampshire – Trump thanked the state’s Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster “who backed us very early in the process.”
“You know Henry, right? I will take him over the governor any time – because we won,” Trump roared – Gov. Nikki Haley having endorsed Rubio.
Trump also took some whacks at TV news’ talking heads for their coverage of his primary win. “I was watching upstairs, and some of the pundits – overall fair, some not too much – a number of pundits said, ‘If a number of them dropped out and you add those together it’s going to equal Trump.’ These geniuses! They don’t understand, as these people drop out, I’m going to get lots of those votes. You don’t just add them together. We’re going to do very well.”
He congratulated Rubio and Cruz. “There is nothing easy about running for president. It‘s tough, it’s nasty, it’s mean, it’s beautiful! When you win it’s beautiful.”
Before today’s primary, pundits forecast bottom poll-ers would get out of the race.
After Trump’s win was declared, Jeb announced the Bush dynasty was throwing in the towel.
“Tonight I am suspending my campaign. I congratulate my competitors that are remaining on the island,” Bush said, taking a jab at Trump with that reality-TV reference — wrong show, Jeb. “In this campaign I have stood my ground, refusing to bend to the political winds.”
“Despite what you may have heard, ideas matter, policy matters,” Bush continued, adding, “I truly hope that these ideas that we’ve laid out will serve as a blueprint for a generation of conservative leaders so we can take back our country.”
Trump’s win was declared very quickly after TV news turned its attention to South Carolina after having spent the morning focused on the Democratic caucuses in Nevada, where Hillary Clinton pulled off a win against Bernie Sanders.
With about 84% of votes were reported, Clinton had 52.4% of the votes to Bernie Sanders’ 47.5%. That would give her 22 delegates to his 15. “Five weeks ago we were 25 points behind in the polls,” Sanders noted of the Nevada results in his scrappy “concession” speech.
Clinton, meanwhile, said “I” far less frequently and “we” more often in her victory lap, as TV news pundits noted, and didn’t shout into the microphone so much, having apparently taken to heart their criticism of her earlier speeches in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“What is happening is that, as people hear our message – and it’s a tough message, because it speaks to the truth of American society today that a lot of people don’t want to address – is we have a corrupt campaign finance system that is undermining American democracy,” Sanders said, moments after having “congratulated” Clinton’s campaign in his this-ain’t- over-yet address to his staff and volunteers. “We will not allow billionaires and their Super PACs continue to buy elections in the United States of America,” Sanders said like he meant it to sting.
Sanders insisted (TV news navel-lint gazers seemed more dubious) “we’ve got an excellent chance to win many” Super Tuesday states.
“But I also know that, on Super Tuesday…we are going to be taking on a very powerful and well-funded Super PAC, and a Super PAC that receives significant amounts of money from Wall Street and wealthy special interests,” he said of the Clinton campaign. That knocked about 20% of the effectiveness, TV-wise, off of Clinton’s victory-lap line to viewers that of the more than 750K people who have gone to HillaryClinton.com and “contributed what you could, the majority of you have given less than $100.”
Clinton also spent a good-ish portion of her speech addressing students, who have flocked to Sanders, pronouncing their generation “the most tolerant and well-connected our country has ever seen” and that “I know what you’re up against…It’s not just enough to make college more affordable, you need help to deal with the [student loan] debt you already have.”
Fox News Channel said the win breathes “new life into her campaign just a week-and-a-half after she lost to Sanders by double-digits in New Hampshire,” and that while her win is a narrow one, Clinton hopes it undercuts Sanders’ momentum.
CNN noted Clinton faced a surprisingly brisk challenge from Sanders, and that a win by Sanders, after trouncing her in New Hampshire primary, would have dealt Clinton a major blow.
MSNBC noted Clinton eked out her tight win in Nevada by relying on key groups that supported her in prior contests – particularly women and older voters – and lost the Hispanic vote to Sanders, but won the overall nonwhite vote because of strong support from black voters.