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Clinton Wins South Carolina

Updated: Saturday, February 27, 2016 – 4:04 PM

Hillary Clinton has won the South Carolina primary.

Clinton has bolstered her front-runner status with a strong showing in the South Carolina Democratic primary, gaining the support of black voters and a heavy turnout among African – American voters.

Younger voters continue to show the gap, largely supporting Bernie Sanders.

Marco Rubio continues his attacks on Donald Trump, drawing a big crowd in Atlanta where the stakes are high for Super Tuesday.

Posted: Saturday, February 27, 2016 – 3:54 PM

(AFP) Hillary Clinton is eyeing a decisive win in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential nomination race, hoping to gain momentum against Bernie Sanders before the high-stakes “Super Tuesday” contest.

One week after Donald Trump barreled to victory in the state’s Republican vote, Democrats took center stage Saturday in South Carolina, where 55 percent of voters in the 2008 party primary were black.

The Republican race churns along as well, with Trump exchanging heated barbs on the campaign trail with rival Marco Rubio, who has finally retorted by launching harsh broadsides against the billionaire real estate mogul.

Rubio accosted Trump for “flying around on hair force one,” and having “the worst spray tan in America,” continuing the series of mocking attack lines from their Thursday debate clash.

“I want to save the (Republican) party from a con artist,” Rubio said at a stop in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Trump pushed back during a speech in Arkansas, one of the dozen states voting Tuesday.

“I watched this lightweight Rubio, total lightweight, little mouth on him, bing, bing, bing,” Trump sneered. “I’m a con man, right? I built a great business!”

Among Democrats, Clinton is expected to handily win South Carolina, and leads in the national delegate count at this early stage, having won two of the first three nomination contests — in Iowa, narrowly, and Nevada.

Polling stations opened at 7:00 am (1200 GMT)and were to close 12 hours later, at which point a projected winner could be announced if one candidate has a clear lead.

While Sanders has support of some high-profile African Americans including film director Spike Lee and rapper Killer Mike, Clinton is backed by many local and state elected officials and black community figures.

The 68-year-old also has the backing of many of the same voters who supported her husband, Bill, whose popularity rivaled even that of Barack Obama.

Both presidents are men whom Clinton knows well, she jokes, and is a part of their political lineage.

“I’m not running to do either one of their third terms, but I do think they really did a good job for America, and it would be foolish not to learn from them,” Clinton said Friday.

In South Carolina, Clinton’s campaign has worked hard to hammer home the message that she is the only candidate who can break down barriers still preventing minorities from getting ahead.

And the brawling among Republicans may reinforce Clinton’s argument that she has the temperament and experience to be commander in chief.

“It does not help us to form a coalition with them when a leading candidate for president spends half his time insulting them,” Clinton said in Birmingham, Alabama, referring to the difficulty in cobbling together a coalition to fight Islamic State extremists in the Middle East.

“You know, when you run for president it’s not just Americans who pay attention,” said.

– ‘Super Tuesday’ -Some Clinton supporters say Sanders, a self-declared Democratic Socialist who represents Vermont in the US Senate, is little known in the South.

Although Sanders, 74, was in South Carolina Friday, his prospects in the state are poor and he has invested less time here than his rival.

Both left the state to campaign in Super Tuesday locales, although Clinton is scheduled to return at night to celebrate the primary.

Sanders headed to Texas, where he told some 10,000 people that he has been this election’s comeback kid.

“We were more than 30 points down in Iowa and it was a virtual tie. We were 30 points down in New Hampshire and we won. We were 25 points down in Nevada and we came within five points,” Sanders told the huge crowd at an Austin race track. 

“And now we move on to Super Tuesday.”

Sanders is also focusing on states like Ohio and Minnesota that vote later in March, when a whopping 45 percent of the delegates who will attend the nominating convention are up for grabs.

Only three percent of delegates for July’s nominating convention in Philadelphia will have been awarded by Saturday’s end.

But the 11 states that hold Democratic nominating contests next Tuesday will send a whopping 18 percent of the delegates to Philadelphia.

Clinton is ahead in most, but Sanders has the edge in Massachusetts and his home turf of Vermont.

– Clinton’s ups and downs -Retired teacher Elvira Kennedy, 70, voted for Clinton in Columbia.

“She’s the best candidate,” said Kennedy, an African American. 

“We never had a woman president, it’s about time we give a woman a chance to mess everything. Men have been doing it for 300 years.”

Tessa Blackwell, 29, a white restaurant manager, said she voted for Sanders.

“I really love that he’s doing such a grassroots campaign, and that he’s not bought by any corporation,” she said. 

“He’s more for the people, by the people.”

A win here would mark Clinton’s third since February 1, and could silence critics who say she has led a sluggish campaign.

A Fox News poll carried out last week gave Clinton a clear advantage in South Carolina: about 56 percent compared to 28 percent for Sanders.


© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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