Story is credited to Rick Hampton, a national reporter for USA Today.
(Photo Credit to: Joe Raedle, Getty Images)
Propelled by strong support among African-American voters, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton stormed across the South on Super Tuesday, grabbing six easy victories in Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and — the big prize — Texas.
She also won in comparatively liberal Massachusetts and lost to her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, in Oklahoma, Colorado, Minnesota and his home state of Vermont.
Many of Clinton’s wins were called by the Associated Press and major networks shortly after polls closed. In states such as Virginia, Alabama and Georgia, Clinton reversed her losses to Barack Obama in 2008.
Clinton was also poised to significantly extend her lead in pledged delegates which, coupled with her already overwhelming edge with superdelegates, puts her well on the path to the Democratic nomination.
A hoarse Clinton greeted jubilant supporters in Miami. She struck populist themes, tipped her hat to Sanders and implicitly blasted the contentious Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
“I believe what we need in America today is more love and kindness,” she said.
Sanders spoke to supporters early in the evening in Essex Junction, Vt., evoking loud cheers with a familiar refrain: “This is not just about electing a president. It’s about making a political revolution!”
He said that given Democratic primary rules, which provide for proportional allocation of delegates rather than winner-take-all, “by the end of tonight, we are going to win many hundreds of delegates.” That sparked frenzied chants of “Bernie! Bernie!”
Front-runner looking ahead
Clinton seemed confident that a series of primary victories would cripple Sanders’ nomination hopes, and on the campaign trail Tuesday, she increasingly focused on her likely opponent in November — Trump.
In her victory speech, she rejected Trump’s promise to make America great again: “America never stopped being great. We have to make America whole — fill in what’s been hollowed out.”
Trump and the other Republican candidates “are now running their campaigns based on insults,” she said earlier in the day. “It’s turned into a kind of one-upmanship on insulting, and I don’t think that’s appropriate in a presidential campaign.’’ She faulted the GOP candidates for “a lot of … bigotry and bullying.’’
Her greatest challenge Tuesday might not have been to beat Sanders as much as to avoid alienating his many enthusiastic, young supporters.
And so on Tuesday night Clinton congratulated Sanders on “his strong showing.” Earlier in the day, Brian Fallon, Clinton’s spokesman, said: “Senator Sanders has done a great job of extending the Democratic brand.’’
Even as the Clinton camp extended the olive branch to Sanders, it braced for blows from Trump, who stressed in an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America that he had not yet begun to fight: “I haven’t even focused on Hillary Clinton. … I can tell you the one person that Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to run against is me.”
But a new CNN/ORC poll found that Trump was the only major GOP contender Clinton would beat if the election were held now. And Sanders, despite lagging in the Democratic race, beat them all.
Unlike some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, Clinton did not say Trump was disqualified for the presidency by his recent comments about support from former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. She said the statement should be “repudiated upon hearing it. .. We can’t let organizations and individuals who hold deplorable views about what it means to be an American to be given any credence at all.”
In Virginia, Clinton had people like Roberto and Baljn Narneta, who voted at a Newport News community center, to thank for her victory. “I came to America during Clinton time and the economy was good,” said Baljn, 44. “I know that she’s not her husband, but their views are kinda the same, and I kinda feel that … it will be like having two presidents there.”
And though the couple said they liked Sanders’ policies, she described them as unrealistic — “kinda good, but kinda imaginary,” she said. “I can dream like that too, but what he’s proposing is not a clear cut plan. … It’s impossible, and he’s repeating too many times. It’s annoying me, actually.”
Clinton looks to build formidable lead
Clinton hoped the year’s biggest single-day delegate haul — 865 of the 2,383 needed to nominate — would put her on a path to becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee. In addition to her state victories, Clinton won in American Samoa, picking up four of six delegates.
If Clinton ultimately captured 500 delegates across the 11 Super Tuesday states, Sanders would need to win 53% of the delegates in the remaining contests just to tie Clinton, according to Cook Political Report analyst David Wasserman.
Clinton had won three of the previous four early voting contests, including South Carolina on Saturday. She owed her victory there over Sanders to overwhelming support from black voters — which also was key to her success across the South on Tuesday.
Across the South, black voters gave Clinton a huge advantage. Clinton got more than 8 in 10 black votes in every Southern state except Oklahoma, where three-quarters of blacks backed her. Blacks made up more than a quarter of the overall Southern electorate Tuesday, ranging from nearly half in Alabama and Georgia to about 15% in Oklahoma and Texas.
The candidates found support even in each other’s strongholds.
Cami Thibodeau, voting on Town Meeting Day in Shelburne, Vt., said she supported Clinton “to the max’’ over her state’s junior U.S. senator: “I do not believe that Bernie can change the world as he says he’s going to. I just trust Hillary.’’
And in Eureka Springs, Ark. — a state where Clinton was once first lady — Tom Swenson walked out of a polling place on Passion Play Road and said he’d voted for Sanders.
“He seems to have a character, meaning it would be easy to write a eulogy for him,” Swenson explained. “You could write a résumé for Hillary or Trump, or any of the others, but you couldn’t write a eulogy.”
Sanders had the money to stay in the race until the bitter end. His campaign announced it raised more than $41 million in February. “This is a campaign that is going to the Philadelphia convention in July,” he said when he voted Tuesday monring.
The transplanted Brooklyn native was upbeat. “If there is a large voter turnout today across this country, we are going to do well,” Sanders said after voting in Burlington, where he was once mayor. He made a joke: “After a lot of deliberation, I know that Bernie Sanders, here in Vermont, got at least one vote. I was working on my wife, so I probably got two.”
Larry David couldn’t have put it better.
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