Hillary Clinton focuses on Super Tuesday after key win in South Carolina
Published 28/02/2016 | 18:21
Hillary Clinton resoundingly reclaimed her position as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination with a commanding victory over Bernie Sanders in South Carolina, giving her momentum heading into the key Super Tuesday contests.
For Mr Sanders, the roughly 50-point defeat crystallized his weakness with black voters, a crucial segment of the Democratic electorate, and if he loses black voters by similar margins in the southern states that vote on Tuesday, Mrs Clinton is likely to take a delegate lead difficult for him to overcome.
In total, 865 Democratic delegates to the party's national nominating convention are up for grabs in the Super Tuesday contests in 11 states and American Samoa. Mr Sanders aims to stay close to Mrs Clinton in the south while focusing most of his attention on states in the Mid-west and north-east, including his home state of Vermont.
As Mrs Clinton relished the most sweeping victory of her political career, her focus was already on Super Tuesday.
"Despite what you hear, we don't need to make America great again," Mrs Clinton said at a rally on Saturday night, alluding to Republican front-runner Donald Trump and his campaign slogan.
"America has never stopped being great," she declared.
Mr Sanders acknowledged getting "decimated" in South Carolina, but said on Sunday on NBC's Meet The Press that his campaign is "looking to the future, not looking back" as the contests move outside the south.
Like Mrs Clinton, Mr Trump has won three of the four early voting contests. He has cleared the field of nearly all his rivals, but is engaged in an increasingly bitter contest with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, two senators scrambling to stop the billionaire from running away with the Republican nomination.
On Tuesday, Republicans will vote in 11 states, with 595 delegates at stake.
Mr Cruz acknowledged that a strong showing by Mr Trump on Tuesday could perhaps seal the nomination for the real estate magnate. The Texas senator told CBS' Face The Nation on Sunday that "there is no doubt that if Donald steam-rolls through Super Tuesday, wins everywhere with big margins, that he may well be unstoppable."
Whatever the polls, Mr Rubio expressed confidence that Mr Trump will not be the Republican presidential nominee. But the Florida senator warned on Face The Nation that if Mr Trump does win the nomination, "it will split us and splinter us in a way that we may never be able to recover".
For Mrs Clinton, South Carolina was a moment to wipe away bitter memories of her loss to Barack Obama there eight years ago. She won the support of nearly nine in 10 black voters, crucial Democratic backers who had abandoned her for Mr Obama in 2008.
She also won most women and voters aged 30 and older, according to exit polls.
Mr Sanders continued to do well with young voters, his most passionate supporters. He also carried those who identified themselves as independent, and most white voters.
Mrs Clinton's campaign hopes her strong showing in South Carolina foreshadows similar outcomes in states such as Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia that vote on Tuesday and have large minority populations.