NATION

South Carolina Democratic primary: Clinton wins by nearly 50 points; Sanders vows to go on

Hillary Clinton wins the South Carolina Democratic primary, giving her a boost going into Super Tuesday.

Hillary Clinton erases doubts about minority support, and other takeaways from South Carolina

 (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)
(Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton’s campaign had a rocky start in the Democratic nominating contests with a narrow victory in Iowa and a thorough drubbing by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. But she scored a clear win in Nevada last week and then racked up an even bigger margin over Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday.

Clinton hopes momentum from the dominating performance carries her through Super Tuesday next week, when Democrats cast ballots in 11 states and one territory, and on to her party’s presidential nomination. "Tomorrow, this campaign goes national!" Clinton said to big applause Saturday night in Columbia. "We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything and we're not taking anyone for granted."

A few takeaways from South Carolina:

Joe Biden: Republicans have 'gotten meaner'

 (Ben Margot / AP)
(Ben Margot / AP)

Wading in to the contentious presidential race that he once considered joining, Vice President Joe Biden told California Democrats at the party's convention here that the Republican candidates haven't changed their positions, only their tone.

"They haven't changed at all, folks," said Biden. "They've just gotten meaner."

Sanders, after loss: My campaign is about 'transforming America'

Speaking in Minnesota after his double-digit loss to Hillary Clinton in South Carolina, Bernie Sanders said Saturday that his presidential campaign was more about "transforming America" than winning the race.

"What this campaign is about is not just electing a president," Sanders said at a rally in Rochester. "Yeah, that's really important, but there's something that's more important.... It is about transforming America; it is about thinking big and the kind of country we want to become."

Sanders, who spent little time in South Carolina in recent days as a big loss for him was forecast, said he needs more than just voter support at the polls.

"Yeah, I'm going to be asking for your vote on Tuesday, but I need more than that from you," Sanders told the crowd. "I need your help the day after the general election because I can't do it alone."

He asked supporters to help him fight Wall Street, corporations, corporate media and big campaign donors.

Sanders also highlighted what he described as key differences between himself and Clinton, noting her vote in support of the war in Iraq and her fundraising for outside groups that are allowed unlimited spending on political campaigns. 

Sanders, who has run a largely positive campaign against Clinton, has been baring his teeth a bit more in recent days just before Super Tuesday next week, when Democrats in about a dozen states go to the polls. 

He called again for Clinton to release the transcripts of speeches she gave to the financial firm Goldman Sachs, saying they must have been good, given the six-figure sums she was paid to deliver them.

Subdued Bernie Sanders goes quickly back to core campaign themes

On a given night, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Tonight, we lost.

Bernie Sanders on his loss to Hillary Clinton in South Carolina's Democratic primary, where nearly complete results showed him losing 3 to 1.

Key African American ally says Clinton was rewarded in South Carolina

 (Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton's top African American surrogate in South Carolina attributed her decisive win here to her commitment to building on the Obama administration’s efforts to create jobs and grow the economy.

Clinton's loyalty to the administration did not go unnoticed, said Rep. James E. Clyburn. Among blacks, President Obama remains widely popular, and Clinton has repeatedly reminded voters here of her ties to him.

“South Carolinians have said if you work hard, if you build the resume, if you remain true to your own principles, if you remain loyal to the administration that got this economy out of the ditch, and if you lay out a plan on how you would build on that record … you will be rewarded,” Clyburn said as he introduced Clinton on Saturday night at her victory party.

“Tonight, you have rewarded Hillary Clinton and she will reward each and every one of us and this great nation.”

Exit polls showed 6 in 10 voters in the primary here were black – an uptick from 2008 when Clinton competed with Obama in the Democratic primary and black voters made up about 55% of the electorate. 

Super Tuesday analysis

Hillary Clinton vows to help black voters, a base of support in her South Carolina win

 (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton -- confident, fiery and prepared to move on to Super Tuesday -- vowed to push an agenda that benefits African Americans like those who helped propel her to a strong victory in South Carolina on Saturday.

“We have to face the reality of systemic racism that, more than a half a century after Rosa Parks sat, Dr. King marched and John Lewis led, still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind,” Clinton, noting current and past civil rights leaders, said inside a gymnasium on the campus of the University of South Carolina. “We have to invest in communities of color.”

Clinton, who traversed the state in recent weeks to meet voters at churches and diners, also called for more help for low-income students who attend historically black colleges, several of which are facing funding crises.

“We’re going to give special support to our historically black colleges and universities,” she said to deafening cheers.

To appeal to the concerns of blacks about police brutality, Clinton had sought and received the endorsements of several African American mothers whose sons died in encounters with police that caused national outcries and brought accusations of bias.

“They all lost children, which is almost unimaginable, yet they have not been broken or bitter,” Clinton said of the mothers. “They are reminding us of something deep and powerful in the American spirit.”

Clinton also pointed to Flint, Mich., a majority black city in the midst of a water-supply crisis due to lead contamination.

“There are many other Flints out there, communities that have been left behind, but for every problem we face, someone, somewhere, is working to solve it,” she said. “Our country was built by people who had each other's backs.”

In her brief remarks, she also sought to hit Republicans. She did not name GOP front-runner Donald Trump but did jab at the billionaire businessman who calls for the need to “make America great again.”

“We don’t need to make America great again. America never stopped being great,” she said.

Whole lotta blue

Here's a screenshot of our results map. Hillary Clinton was designated in blue; Bernie Sanders was in brown.

Meanwhile, awaiting Bernie Sanders in Minnesota

Hillary Clinton eyes Donald Trump in victory speech: 'America has never stopped being great'

Hillary Clinton basked briefly in an overwhelming victory in South Carolina on Saturday, but quickly began to look ahead to the widening battlefield in the Democratic nomination race and even the general election as she called for greater civility in politics.

"Tomorrow, this campaign goes national," Clinton told supporters at an election night rally in Columbia, the state's capital.

"We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything and we're not taking anyone for granted."

Clinton congratulated her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, on a well-fought campaign in the state and again seemed to absorb some of his populist messaging. She made an early plea for online contributions, thanking the more than 850,000 grass-roots donors that she said "are powering this campaign."

Her message included some of the staples of her recent stump speech -- promising to build on the progress of President Obama while pledging to break down the barriers that she said still hold too many Americans back.

Clinton also praised the courage of mothers whose children died in racially charged encounters, saying they "have channeled their sorrow into a strategy, and their mourning into a movement." And she again highlighted the water crisis in Flint, Mich., praising ordinary people who have stepped up to help the city's residents.

But she also seemed to look past Super Tuesday next week to offer an early hint of her strategy against the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump.

"Despite what you hear, we don't need to make America great again. America has never stopped being great," she said, as the audience roared at the clear reference to Trump's campaign slogan.

"But we do need to make America whole again," she continued. "Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers. We need to show by everything we do that we really are in this together."

Later, she cited the Bible as she called for Americans to lift one another up. The verse she mentioned was from 1 Corinthians; Trump took some flak for referring to 2 Corinthians as "two Corinthians," rather than the more colloquial "second Corinthians," in a campaign appearance at an evangelical Christian university.

"I know it sometimes seems a little odd for someone running for president in these, in this time, to say we need more love and kindness in America," Clinton said. "But I'm telling you from the bottom of my heart, we do."

Clinton was introduced by South Carolina's lone Democrat in Congress, Rep. James E. Clyburn, who had offered a well-timed endorsement just as the campaign shifted to his state.

South Carolina voters, he said, "have started Hillary Clinton on her way to the White House."

Decisive win among black voters spurs Hillary Clinton's victory in South Carolina

 (Win McNamee / Getty Images)
(Win McNamee / Getty Images)

How did Hillary Clinton do it? Her decisive win in South Carolina was carried by overwhelming support from black voters, the biggest voting demographic in the first-in-the-South Democratic primary.

According to an exit poll of nearly 1,400 voters Saturday, about 2 in 3 voters were black, and Clinton won about 85% of that group.

Given her struggles with the youth vote in previous nominating contests, Clinton notably also won among black voters under the age of 30, garnering the support of more than half to Sanders' 4 in 10. 

She also won the support of nearly all black voters over the age of 65.

Clinton's strong performance exceeded even then-Sen. Barack Obama's in 2008. In a three-candidate race then, Obama won 78% of the black vote compared with 19% for Clinton and just 2% for John Edwards.

The results appear to have also surpassed even the most hopeful Clinton campaign expectations, and follow a strategy in which the former secretary of State worked aggressively to highlight her connection to President Obama as a member of his administration, and her commitment to build on his legacy.

A major question heading into a general election campaign with Clinton as a potential nominee is whether she could replicate the strong African American turnout that contributed to a more diverse electorate and helped boost him to two terms in the White House.

It's too soon to say whether these results in one primary augur well for her chances of doing so in the fall. But it may indicate she is well-positioned for a strong night next week on Super Tuesday, when African Americans make up a sizable share of the electorates in many of the states being contested.

Hillary Clinton in victory speech: 'Make America whole again'

Biden on Democratic race: 'Proud of both of them'

Vice President Biden is speaking to the California Democratic Party convention, which we're covering over on the Essential Politics live blog

He informed the crowd of local party activists and delegates gathered in San Jose that Clinton had won in South Carolina, to applause.

(Like that video? You can follow latimespolitics on Snapchat.)

Bernie Sanders: 'This campaign is just beginning'

 (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Bernie Sanders congratulated Hillary Clinton on her victory in South Carolina in a statement released just minutes after polls closed in the state. But he made it clear that he isn't giving up on the race for the Democratic nomination.

"This campaign is just beginning," Sanders said. "Our grass-roots political revolution is growing state by state, and we won't stop now."

Like he did after his loss to Clinton in Nevada last week, Sanders highlighted how much name recognition and support he gained in South Carolina, where, he said, he was "all but unknown when this campaign began 10 months ago."

Although the support was not enough to push him to victory, Sanders said it helped create momentum that will carry him to what he described as even more important nominating contests next week on Super Tuesday. 

"In just three days, Democrats in 11 states will pick 10 times more pledged delegates on one day than were selected in the four early states so far in this campaign," Sanders said. 

His statement ended with a jab at Donald Trump, who is looking to secure the Republican presidential nomination with his own run on Super Tuesday. 

“When we come together, and don't let people like Donald Trump try to divide us, we can create an economy that works for all of us and not just the top 1%," Sanders said. 

This campaign is just beginning. 

Bernie Sanders, promising a fight for the Democratic nomination in his statement congratulating Hillary Clinton on her win in the South Carolina primary Saturday night.

Watch what happens when supporters at Hillary Clinton's victory party hear she won

Hillary Clinton wins South Carolina primary, giving her a boost going into Super Tuesday

 (David Goldman / Associated Press)
(David Goldman / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary in South Carolina on Saturday, the Associated Press projected, giving her campaign new momentum over insurgent Bernie Sanders and bolstering her advantage with the minority voters crucial to her bid to win the party's nomination for president.

Clinton now heads into next week's Super Tuesday contests with growing confidence and commanding leads in opinion polls in most of the high-stakes states.

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