Columbia (South Carolina), Feb 28: Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton cruised to a commanding victory over Bernie Sanders in South Carolina primary, drawing overwhelming support from the state's black Democrats and putting her in a strong position as the race barrels toward crucial multi-state contests on Tuesday.
Clinton's win provided an important boost for her campaign and a moment to wipe away bitter memories of her loss to Barack Obama in the South Carolina primary eight years ago.
"To South Carolina, to the volunteers at the heart of our campaign, to the supporters who power it: thank you," Clinton wrote on Twitter. At a campaign victory party in Columbia, supporters broke into raucous cheers as the race was called in Clinton's favour. Sanders, expecting defeat yesterday, left the state even before voting was finished and turned his attention to some of the states that vote in next Tuesday's delegate-rich contests. In a statement, Sanders vowed to fight on aggressively.
"This campaign is just beginning," he said. "Our grass-roots political revolution is growing state by state, and we won't stop now." Black voters powered Clinton to victory, with 8 in 10 voting for her. The former secretary of state also won most women and voters aged 30 and older, according to early exit polls.
Clinton's victory came at the end of a day that saw Republican candidates firing insults at each other at rallies in states voting on March 1, or Super Tuesday. Donald Trump, working to build an insurmountable lead, was campaigning in Arkansas with former rival Chris Christie and calling Florida Sen.
Marco Rubio a "light little nothing;" Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was asking parents in Atlanta if they would be pleased if their children spouted profanities like the brash billionaire, and Rubio was mocking Trump as a "con artist" with "the worst spray tan in America."
Clinton made a stop in Alabama, a Super Tuesday state, on Saturday before returning to Columbia, South Carolina's capital, for an evening victory party. Sanders, expecting defeat, left South Carolina even before voting finished and turned his attention to some of the states that vote in next Tuesday's delegate-rich contests.
He drew 10,000 people to a rally in Austin, a liberal bastion in conservative Texas, the biggest March 1 prize. While Sanders spent the end of the week outside of South Carolina, his campaign did invest heavily in the state. He had 200 paid staff on the ground and an aggressive television advertising campaign.