Donald Trump claimed victory in the New Hampshire Republican primary elections on Tuesday, predicting before a raucous crowd in Manchester that he’ll also win the next presidential nominating contest in South Carolina.
In a 15-minute speech full of greatest-hits moments that followed a much longer oration from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – who had just grabbed the Democratic Party’s brass ring from Hillary Clinton – Trump swung in the socialist politician’s direction.
‘In all fairness we have to congratulate him,’ Trump told a packed banquet hall three hours after polls closed and he was declared the winner.
‘He wants to give away our country, folks! He wants to give it away. We’re not going to let it happen!’
With 92 per cent of the votes counted, Trump led the field with 35.17 per cent of the total vote and 10 delegates, John Kasich was in second with 15.84 per cent and three delegates, Ted Cruz third with 11.66 per cent and two delegates, Jeb Bush fourth with 11.07 per cent and two delegates, Marco Rubio fifth with 10.52 per cent and Chris Christie sixth with 7.47 per cent.
Trump has yet to unlace his rhetorical boxing gloves in the eight months since he launched his unlikely presidential bid. He also hasn’t stopped hammering home a reliable menu of conservative red meat pledges.
‘In a nutshell, we’re going to make great trade deals, we’re going to rebuild our military … we are going to take care of our vets,’ he said Tuesday night.
‘We’re going to have strong, incredible borders and people are going to come into our country but they’re going to come into our country legally!’
‘We’re going to build a wall. It’s going to be built,’ Trump added, tying America’s border crisis to a drug addiction epidemic in New England. ‘It’s not even – believe it or not, it’s not even a difficult thing to do!’
Shouts of ‘Build the wall! Build the wall!’ followed.
So did his well-worn pledge to ‘knock the hell out of ISIS,’ the Islamist terror army whose videotaped beheadings of ‘infidels’ have forced politicians to take hard-line approaches to the Middle East.
Speaking to CNN via phone on his way out of New Hampshire, Trump said his victory ‘started with trade, and the fact that we’re being just ripped off by everybody, whether it’s China, Japan, Mexico.’
‘And I think it ended up being very much borders, and security, and other things having to do with security. And then you have the migration. And you have ISIS.’
‘It seems,’ he added, ‘that the whole security thing, the military thing, the fact that I’m going to take care of the vets far better than anyone else will be able to, it all sort of came down to that.’
‘But it seems like pretty much of a victory in every category.’
Trump thanked a long list of family members including his late parents Mary and Fred.
‘They’re up there looking down and they’re saying, “This is something very special”,’ he said.
Although Trump put his gold-medal hopes on hold a week ago, the tycoon claimed the top prize in New Hampshire as he defeated a gaggle of establishment politicians and the outsider senator who bested him in Iowa.
And Ohio Gov. John Kasich answered the hotly contested question of who would take the silver, asserting himself as the anti-Trump to watch.
‘Bernie talked so long I thought he was going to hit his 77th birthday before he got off the stage,’ Kasich said in his late-night remarks after Trump spoke.
‘And I mean, Hillary – you just need this much,’ he mocked, holding his thumb and forefinger an inch apart, ‘and head to South Carolina because it’s not working here!’
Kasich’s heart-strong speech was a tremendous contrast from Trump’s over-the-top braggadocio.
‘There’s something that’s going on, that I’m not sure that anybody can quite understand,’ he said. ‘There’s magic in the air with this campaign because we don’t see it as just another campaign.’
‘We see this as an opportunity for all of us – and I mean all of us – to be involved with something that’s bigger than our own lives. To change America. To re-shine America. To restore the spirit of America. And to leave no one behind.’
‘We will move through South Carolina, all across this country, and we’ll end up in the midwest,’ Kasich pledged.
‘And you just wait! Let me tell you: There’s so much gonna happen, if you don’t have a seat belt, go get one!
With 88 per cent of the votes counted in the Granite State, Trump led the field at 35.15 per cent of the total vote in an election that poll-watchers expected would set a new record for voter participation.
The margin of victory was stunning even in the face of late polls that had the billionaire real estate developer ahead by double digits.
In contrast to a lackluster Iowa performance that saw his voting haul lagging six percentage points behind his polling average, Trump outperformed the pollsters’ wildest estimates in New Hampshire.
Trump supporters, in other words, actually went out to vote on Tuesday. And New Hampshire’s GOP elites were perplexed.
‘By name, I only know five people supporting Donald Trump,’ former Gov. John Sununu told The New York Times. ‘So I say I cannot understand this electorate.’
Kasich, the Ohio governor who made a late surge on the strength of a longstanding in-state organization, was sitting in second place at 15.89 per cent.
His communications director told Fox News that his boss was calmly having dinner as results poured in, and was ‘at peace.’
The rest of the second tier looked to be bunched up at between 12 and 10 per cent, with margins so narrow that the results won’t be known for hours.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz held third place with 11.55 per cent, keeping pace with his numbers in an average of the final New Hampshire polls.
Cruz, whose positions lined up nicely with Iowa’s heavily evangelical GOP electorate, ran up against a buzz-saw of moderate New Hampshirites out of step with his own hard-line conservatism.
But South Carolina, the next contest in line, is thick with born-again Christian conservatives. Finishing first in Iowa and third in New Hampshire will make for a promising resume moving forward.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was just over than a thousand votes behind Cruz at 11.1 per cent.
Read more: Daily Mail