Washington, Feb 10 (IANS) Two outsiders – Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders-cruised to early victories in the first primary battleground of New Hampshire turning the nomination contests into a long drawn battle that may well stretch into spring.
With his win, Trump, the brash real estate mogul and celebrity who had never run for public office before, recovering from his second place finish in Iowa caucuses, seemed to legitimise his status as the frontrunner among the Republicans.
With about 80 percent results in shortly before midnight, Sanders had a double digit 59.9 per cent to 38.5 percent lead over Clinton, while Trump was sitting pretty among Republicans with 34.5 percent – more than double his nearest rival Ohio governor John Kasich with 16.4 percent.
Trump appeared on stage with a beaming smile on his face and gave a thumbs-up to his crowd of supporters. “Wow, wow, wow,” Trump said. “We are going to make America great again.”
A hoarse but jubilant Sanders also thanked his supporters with a passionate speech. “Tonight we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California,” he said.
His Democratic rival, Clinton, delivered a concession speech that appeared to be an effort to co-opt Sanders’ message about an economy stacked against the middle class while she vowed to fight her rival across the political map.
“Now we take this campaign to the entire country. We are going to fight for every vote in every state,” she said, foreshadowing a long fight for the nomination.
“People have every right to be angry. But they are also hungry. They are hungry for solutions,” she said, adding that she wanted to rein in Wall Street. “But I know how to do it,” Clinton said, implying that Sanders’ calls for a revolution were unrealistic.
She also sent an email to supporters vowing to keep fighting and asking them to chip in with $1.
“I wish tonight had gone differently,” she wrote. “But I know what it’s like to be knocked down-and I’ve learned from long experience that it’s not whether you get knocked down that matters. It’s about whether you get back up.”
With Trump cruising to victory as expected, the interest in the Republican race centred on who would win the second place.
That distinction went to Kasich with Iowa winner Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio battling for a third-place finish.
Victories of Sanders and Trump reflect deep bipartisan discontent at professional politicians and suggest that both the Democratic and Republican races will now be long struggles that could stretch well into the spring, CNN said.
The Washington Post said Sanders’ decisive victory embarrassing Hillary Clinton in a state she won eight years ago against then Senator Barack Obama upends the Democratic contest and sets up an intense race for nomination.
Sanders’s victory “confirmed the strength of his iconoclastic appeal and the power of an insurgent message that cast Clinton as a creature of the old guard,” it said.
But the New York Times noting that “New Hampshire is in fact a drop in the bucket of delegates needed to win the nominations” advised the ‘the candidates who go on, the trick is not letting these results go to their heads, or get under their skins.”
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])