Donald Trump wins South Carolina, Jeb Bush exits race

Billionaire wins again in White House race as third presidential bid by Bush dynasty ends

Republican Donald Trump is victorious in South Carolina in the third nominating contest of the US presidential race, as Jeb Bush drops out.

 

Republican Donald Trump romped to victory in South Carolina, the third nominating contest of the US presidential race, on a night that ended the presidential hopes of the party’s one-time favourite Jeb Bush.

In the latest Democratic contest for the White House, Hillary Clinton scored a narrow but vital win in the Nevada caucuses over Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in a far closer-than-expected test.

Mrs Clinton ground out victory in the “first in the west” nominating state, beating the democratic socialist by 53 per cent to 47 per cent.

The biggest casualty of the night was in South Carolina’s “first in the south” primary where Mr Bush, hoping to emulate his brother and his father by being elected to the White House, dropped out of the race.

A year ago, the former two-term Florida governor was presumed to be the Republican nominee in the November 8th presidential election.

The humiliation of a poor fourth place with 8 per cent of the vote - well behind senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas who were locked in a dead heat for second - was amplified by the runaway victory of Mr Trump. The businessman had used Mr Bush as a political punchbag throughout the campaign.

Mr Bush’s loss came after a week of even more ferocious attacks by the billionaire who accused his brother, George W Bush, of lying about Iraq and said he should have been impeached for invading the country.

“The presidency is bigger than any one candidate. The people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken,” said a crest-fallen but stoic Mr Bush, ending his dream of being the third member of his family to be elected to the US presidency.

Mr Trump won South Carolina with 32 per cent of the vote, 10 points clear of Mr Rubio. The senator edged out Mr Cruz 23 per cent to 22 per cent with just over 1,000 votes separating the warring candidates after a vitriolic campaign of name-calling and mud-slinging.

Back-to-back wins for Mr Trump in New Hampshire and now South Carolina make him the candidate to beat in the Republican race.

Mrs Clinton’s much-needed win in Nevada halts her surging rival after Mr Sanders’s “virtual draw” in Iowa on February 1st and his landslide win in New Hampshire on February 9th.

The result in Nevada raises questions about Mr Sanders’s viability as a candidate in the more racially diverse states in the country as the two contenders head to next Saturday’s primary in South Carolina where Mrs Clinton has strong support among black voters who sway that race.

“Some may have doubted us, but we never doubted each other, and this one’s for you,” she told her supporters at a victory party in a Las Vegas casino, flanked by her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

She took subtle jabs at her rival, saying that the American people were “right to be angry but we are also hungry for real solutions.”

“The truth is, we aren’t a single-issue country,” she said, to roars of approval from her supporters. “We need more than a plan for the big banks. The middle class needs a raise and we need more jobs.”

Boosted by the support of minority voters and union workers, Mrs Clinton, a second-time presidential candidate, performed strongly in Clark County, home to Las Vegas and Nevada’s most populous city.

Mr Sanders praised his rival for running an “aggressive, effective campaign” in his concession speech but continued to portray himself as an insurgent who has again undermined the once presumed nominee.

“Five weeks ago, we were 25 points behind in the poll. We’ve made some real progress,” said the 74-year-old senator.

The South Carolina primary marks a remarkable reversal of fortunes for the Bush dynasty where Republicans strongly backed Jeb Bush’s father and brother in past elections but turned its back on another Bush.

Republican voters in the state set George W Bush on course to win the party’s nomination and ultimately the presidency in 2000. He made the only appearance of his brother’s flagging presidential campaign in South Carolina when he appeared at a rally for his brother on Monday.

Jeb Bush’s fourth-place finish in New Hampshire had raised a chance that he might be able resurrect his campaign after finishing close to Mr Rubio, but 8 per cent of the vote in South Carolina spelt the end of a campaign that never fired up Republicans.

His decision to drop out is a watershed not just for his family but for his party: the last time Republicans won the White House without a Bush on the presidential ticket was 1972.

George W Bush, in a statement, said that he was proud of his younger brother for “running a campaign that looked to the future, presented serious proposals and elevated the tone of the race.”

“Jeb’s decision to suspend his campaign reflects his selfless character and patriotism,” said the 43rd president.

Mr Rubio claimed something of a victory from his strong runner-up finish in South Carolina after his poor fifth-place finish in New Hampshire, one place behind Mr Bush.

“After tonight, this has become a three-person race and we will win the nomination,” said the 44 year old who will likely be the biggest beneficiary from the withdrawal of his fellow Floridian from the race.

The southern state would “always be the place of new beginnings and fresh starts,” he said.

Cruz, his closest rival and the conservative firebrand, tried to claim a victory in South Carolina, even though he should have beaten Mr Trump given the influence of voters on the Christian right in state and Bible-quoting, constitution-defending campaign.

“We are the only campaign that has beaten and will beat Donald Trump,” said the Texan in his primary-party speech.

Despite winning less than 10 per cent of the vote, Ohio governor John Kasich, on 7.6 per cent, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, on 7.2 per cent, have said that they stay in the Republican race as it moves towards the big, multi-state winner-take-all contests in March.