MANCHESTER, NH, February 10, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two political outsiders soared to victory in New Hampshire last night, as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders handily defeated their foes in the nation's first primary.
With 92 percent of the vote reported on Wednesday morning, Trump won more than twice as many votes as second-place finisher John Kasich.
Ted Cruz pulled ahead of Jeb Bush, who is tied for fourth place with Marco Rubio.
Exit polls show that Trump won among nearly every demographic – age, income, education, and race – and among all ideological segments of the party, from “very conservative” to “moderate.”
Surprisingly, he defeated Ted Cruz among white, evangelical or born again Christians by four percent.
However, Trump came in third among Republican voters who said their most important consideration was that a candidate “shares my values” – signaling a potential weakness as his candidacy moves into South Carolina and multiple Southern states in the next three weeks. Cruz and Kasich led among this demographic.
Trump began his acceptance speech by thanking his late parents and his deceased brother, Fred, an alcoholic whose advice convinced Trump never to drink alcohol. He also acknowledged his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, before promising to repeal and replace ObamaCare, negotiate stronger trade deals, seal the border, and strengthen the U.S. military.
Cruz highlighted social issues in his speech and thanked the “conservative grassroots” for propelling him to a strong third-place finish in last night's primary. “We have to win” in November “for the sake of our kids and our grandkids,” he said, standing in front of campaign state chairman and former U.S. Senator Bob Smith, who led the fight against partial birth abortion in the 1990s.
“To do so, we must stand unequivocally against amnesty” for millions of illegal immigrants, he said. “We must defend the Constitution – defend life, marriage, and religious liberty – and always defend the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
The Republican Establishment's hope to unite behind one alternative to Trump and Cruz was thrown into chaos, as Marco Rubio's campaign imploded after a debate flub this weekend, when Chris Christie said Rubio's answers were too scripted – and Rubio responded by repeating the same line four times. His fifth place finish dissipated a phenomenon the media dubbed “Marcomentum.”
Rubio took full responsibility for his showing in the Granite State. “Our disappointment tonight is not on you, it's on me,” he told his supporters Tuesday night. “I did not do well on Saturday night” at the debate. “That will never happen again.”
Instead of establishing the coming months as a three-man race, Ohio Governor John Kasich came in second, Bush finished fourth, and Rubio took fifth. Kasich hosted more than 100 town hall meetings and burned through a great deal of his campaign war chest – leaving only $4.5 million on hand – on his way to winning 16 percent of the vote (to Trump's 35 percent).
The Ohio governor, a moderate, took an unusually strong stance on defunding Planned Parenthood shortly before his strong finish last night. Kasich's second presidential campaign is being led by John Weaver, a Republican and sometimes Democratic campaign operative who has a strained relationship with Christian conservatives.
Kasich lauded himself for running a positive campaign. “We never went negative,” Kasich said. “Tonight, the light overcame the darkness.”
However, his New Day for America super PAC launched a $2.5 million attack campaign against Donald Trump beginning last fall.
Kasich will become the focus of negative campaigning before the South Carolina primary, scheduled to take place on February 27, sources have learned.
An internal Bush campaign memo leaked to Politico says that Jeb plans a well-financed negative ad campaign in South Carolina focusing on Kasich and Rubio, the latter of whom the memo says is “completely unprepared to be president.”
“Rubio has demonstrated no respect for the nomination process and expects this to be a coronation,” the memo says.
In New Hampshire, Bush's campaign had attacked Rubio as too pro-life.
After a dismal showing in Iowa, Jeb claimed a moral victory in New Hampshire, the state that saved his father's electoral fortunes in 1988.
“This campaign's not dead,” Jeb Bush said at Manchester Community College. “It looks like you all have reset the race.”
Chris Christie finished a distant sixth, leading him to float the possibility that he will drop out of the race in the next few days.
Carly Fiorina won four percent of the vote, twice as many votes as Dr. Ben Carson, who said he would consider becoming Trump's vice president, if the position were offered.
The February 23 Nevada caucus is the next major campaign event for Republican candidates, followed by the South Carolina primary on February 27 and Super Tuesday – sometimes dubbed the “SEC primary” – on March 1.