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Trump Proves He Has Staying Power

Trump Proves He Has Staying Power
(Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

By Wednesday, 10 February 2016 08:25 AM Current | Bio | Archive

With New Hampshire in the rear view mirror (Donald Trump topped the field at 35 percent and John Kasich in second with 16 percent), the race moves to South Carolina. 

Once there, no less than five heavyweight contenders will battle it out  (with the three runners-up: Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio).

As for the other lagging candidates, Chris Christie, the sixth-place finisher with 9 percent, told reporters he was canceling a planned flight to South Carolina and “re-evaluating” his candidacy. Dr. Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, who finished the primary with 4 percent and 2 percent respectively, insisted they would remain in the race.

For Trump, New Hampshire provided recovery from the black eye he received a week ago after losing to Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses. In taking his campaign to South Carolina, the triumphant billionaire will now compete in a state in which he has both major endorsements and a strong grass-roots organization.

“Donald Trump's ground game in South Carolina is for real and reaches down deep into rural areas,” former State GOP Chairman Van Hipp, who is neutral in the presidential race, told me.

Recalling how his state was pivotal to George H.W. Bush securing the presidential nod in 1988 and George W. Bush rebounding against John McCain in 2000, Hipp said Trump’s strong organization suggests “he took a page out Bush 41 and W's playbook and made South Carolina the campaign's firewall.”

For Kasich, South Carolina will be decisive in showing whether he truly does have momentum after finishing second in New Hampshire or whether that performance was simply the result of the strong time and effort the Ohio governor invested in the Granite State.

In South Carolina, Kasich has an organization headed by State Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford of Horry County. He has received the endorsement of several other state legislators.

Cruz has widespread backing through South Carolina. Along with his base among the state’s large evangelical community, the Texas senator enjoys backing among other grass-roots conservatives. His organization is former Spartanburg County GOP Chair LaDonna Ryggs. Two other state leaders for Cruz, Lee Bright and Bill Connor, are past primary opponents to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Cruz also has a growing team in other states that will soon select national convention delegates. In Nevada, for example, he just received the endorsement of popular State Attorney General Adam Laxalt. In Michigan (which holds its primary on March 8), the Cruz effort is headed up by conservative former State GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis.

The mediocre performances of Bush and Rubio in New Hampshire raise the priority most Floridians must now place on South Carolina. For Bush, the importance of the state’s primary to the campaigns of his father and brother almost demands a strong showing by him on Feb. 20.

Prior to a debate performance last Saturday that was widely judged disastrous, Rubio had been gaining ground in South Carolina as well as key endorsements in other key primary states such as Michigan. But after his weak showing in New Hampshire, talk of the inevitability of Rubio as the eventual nominee as faded. Even supporters say he will have to turn in a better performance in South Carolina and other primary states in March.

So Republicans move from New Hampshire to South Carolina and beyond with less certainty of their nominee than before the primary Tuesday. About the one thing that can be said for sure about the GOP contest is that is now likely to be less of a sprint and more of a marathon.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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With New Hampshire in the rear view mirror (Donald Trump topped the field at 35 percent and John Kasich in second with 16 percent), the race moves to South Carolina.
trump, cruz, rubio, kasich
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 08:25 AM
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