White House runners focus on battles ahead

Washington, Feb 11 (IANS) As rival presidential candidates turned to battles ahead, Republican Donald Trump basked in the glory of his huge win in New Hampshire as Democrat Bernie Sanders quickly cashed on his stunning win over Hillary Clinton. And after her 22 point blowout defeat at the hands of self-styled Democratic socialist, the Clinton camp sought to regroup focusing her campaign’s energies on African-American voters ahead of the next caucus round in Nevada on February 20.

The same day Republicans will clash in South Carolina and make their choice in Nevada on February 23, while the Democrats will have their next primary in South Carolina on February 27.

The Republican presidential field meanwhile narrowed down to six with New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina calling it quits after their poor sixth and seventh place finish.

But retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson gamely stayed on despite finishing at the bottom of the table while Florida Senator Marco Rubio the new establishment favourite prepared for his second act after the exit of his tormentor Christie.

Trump celebrated his victory by firing at other White House hopefuls from both political parties at a rally in Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.

He mocked former Florida governor Jeb Bush saying “I hate to waste time on this guy because he’s not going to win.”

“Who thinks Hillary is going to make it?” he asked the crowd turning his ire at Clinton. “She’s got to make it through this wacky socialist guy Bernie.”

And “This guy Sanders is up ranting and raving like a lunatic that he won. I’m shocked that he won,” said Trump. “What are we coming to? I just don’t see a socialist as the head of our country.”

After Clinton’s poor performance, her spokesman Brian Fallon started lowering expectations in Nevada suggesting Sanders will “have the momentum coming out of New Hampshire presumably, so there’s a lot of reasons he should do well.”

Clinton also sent out a fundraising pitch to supporters. “Last night’s results in New Hampshire weren’t what we hoped for. But I woke up this morning ready to keep fighting for the issues you and I believe in. Are you with me?” Clinton asked.

President Barack Obama hasn’t endorsed a candidate, but his former press secretary Jay Carney told CNN that Obama has a clear preference.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that he wants Hillary to win the nomination and believes that she would be the best candidate in the fall and the most effective as president in carrying forward what he’s achieved,” he said.

Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, triggered a fundraising avalanche and plotted a nationwide campaign after his rout of Clinton.

He raised $5.2 million in the 18 hours after polls closed in New Hampshire, his campaign announced. He also met civil rights activist Al Sharpton in a New York City restaurant in Harlem Wednesday to win his support.

Clinton and Sanders will have their next showdown in a Democratic debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Thursday, while Republican candidates will have their debate in Greenville, South Carolina, on Saturday.

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