Sunday 17 December 2017

Trump and Clinton ease to victory in NY

Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump with his wife Melania at his New York primary night rally in Manhattan, New York Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump with his wife Melania at his New York primary night rally in Manhattan, New York Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

David Lawler

Billionaire Donald Trump and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton won sweeping victories in the New York primary yesterday, bolstering their bids to secure the Republican and Democratic nominations for the White House.

It was the most decisive New York primary in decades and leaves self-styled democratic socialist Bernie Sanders with a tough decision on how to proceed as Ms Clinton extends her overwhelming lead over the Vermont senator.

Ms Clinton relished the victory in her adopted home state to stall momentum generated by Mr Sanders, who had won seven out of the eight previous nominating contests.

"Thank you New York," she said to chants of "Hillary, Hillary, Hillary" from jubilant supporters in a Manhattan hotel, where she walked on stage with her husband Bill Clinton and heavily pregnant daughter Chelsea.

"Today you proved once again there's no place like home," said the 68-year-old candidate looking to make history as the first woman president of the United States.

"The race for the Democratic nomination is in the home stretch and victory is in sight," Ms Clinton added.

She noted that she had gained more than 10 million votes and won in every region of the country.

The former first lady and New York senator won 57.9pc of the vote to 42.1pc for Bernie Sanders, CNN said, based on more than 90pc of precincts.

Her win in New York followed some of the most heated personal exchanges of her campaign against Mr Sanders.

After her victory in New York, Ms Clinton extended an olive branch to supporters of Mr Sanders, who has galvanised millions of young voters with his calls for healthcare as a right, free college education and campaign finance reform.

"I believe there's much more that unites us than divides us," she said.

But she could not resist a dig at her rival, repeating language she has used recently to criticise Mr Sanders (74) for offering vague policy ideas without a concrete explanation of how he would achieve them.

"In the bright lights of New York, we have seen it's not enough to diagnose problems, you have to explain how you actually solve them," she said.

Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Mr Sanders, said the senator still has a path to the Democratic presidential nomination but will need to perform well in primary contests next week.

While New York City is largely Democrat, Republicans in rural areas and fallen manufacturing cities upstate warmed to Mr Trump's populist message, despite his insults towards women, Mexicans and Muslims.

The three main candidates all claimed New York as home: Mr Trump, who has never lived anywhere else; Ms Clinton, who was twice elected the state's US senator; and Mr Sanders, who was raised in Brooklyn.

The 74-year-old Mr Sanders had hoped for a much closer margin to keep alive his White House dreams.

Ms Clinton now leads with 1,930 delegates compared to 1,223 for Sanders, according to a CNN tally - putting her even more firmly on course to clinch the 2,383 needed to secure the party's presidential nomination.

New York's 247 Democratic delegates and 44 super-delegates are the party's second- largest state haul, second only to California, which votes in June.

But there were deep frustrations over New York's strict rules governing the vote, particularly among independent voters not allowed to participate and who could have been expected to favour Mr Sanders.

Voters and rights monitors reported numerous errors on voting lists in Brooklyn, including the purging of entire buildings and blocks of voters from the electoral roll.

Only New York's 5.8 million Democrats and 2.7 million Republicans who registered by last October - four months before the nation's first caucus election in Iowa - were eligible to vote.

Mr Trump was on course to win more than 60pc of the vote and take around 90 of the 95 delegates on offer.

The result meant that is was still possible that the billionaire Republican could secure the 1,237 delegates needed to avoid a contested convention in July and secure an outright victory.

He said his win meant that his rival Ted Cruz was "just about mathematically eliminated".

"We don't have much of a race anymore based on what I'm seeing on television," Mr Trump said.

"To the people that know me the best - the people of New York - when they give us this kind of a vote, it's just incredible," Mr Trump said to his cheering supporters inside his Manhattan Trump Towers skyscraper.

Mr Cruz was pushed into third place by Ohio governor John Kasich.

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