Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders cruised to early victories in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich is projected to finish second in the GOP race.
Multiple Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, are now battling for a third-place finish.
Trump, a brash billionaire reality TV star who has never run for office, and Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, were both seen as long-shot outsiders when they launched their campaigns. Their victories reflect deep bipartisan discontent at professional politicians and suggest that both the Democratic and Republican races will now be long struggles that could stretch well into the spring.
Trump appeared on stage with a beaming smile on his face and gave a thumbs-up to his crowd of supporters.
“Wow, wow, wow,” Trump said. “We are going to make America great again.”
A hoarse but jubilant Sanders also thanked his supporters with a passionate speech.
“Tonight, we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California,” he said.
His Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, delivered a concession speech that appeared to be an effort to co-opt Sanders’ message about an economy stacked against the middle class while she vowed to fight her rival across the political map.
“Now we take this campaign to the entire country. We are going to fight for every vote in every state,” she said, foreshadowing a long fight for the nomination.
“People have every right to be angry. But they are also hungry. They are hungry for solutions,” she said, adding that she wanted to rein in Wall Street. “But I know how to do it,” Clinton said, implying that Sanders’ calls for a revolution were unrealistic.
A source within the Sanders campaign told CNN’s Mark Preston that his victory meant that the Vermont senator’s operation would transition into a national effort targeting multiple states beyond the next two contests in South Carolina and Nevada. Sanders intends to draw sharp differences with Clinton on the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and other trade issues which could play into the campaign.
Battle for second
Kasich, Rubio and Bush battled for a runner-up finish to assume the leadership of the GOP establishment. Kasich’s victory, however, did not appear sufficiently clear-cut to position himself as the sole establishment candidate going into the big races across the South in the coming weeks. He could, however, win delegates in the Midwest if he can stay in the race well into March.
“Something big happened tonight,” Kasich said. “There is magic in the air with this campaign.”
The continuing crowding of the establishment lane could play into the hands of Trump, the top anti-establishment candidate and Cruz, who proved his social conservative bona fides by winning the Iowa caucuses.
The primary is especially important for Trump, who hopes to bolster his narrative that he is one of America’s perpetual winners after finishing second in Iowa.
Rubio, who came under withering attack from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during Saturday’s presidential debate, said his performance that night stalled the momentum he gained from his stronger-than-expected finish in Iowa.
“I’m disappointed by tonight,” Rubio said. “I did not do well on Saturday night and that will never happen again.”
Christie, who banked his candidacy on a strong showing in New Hampshire, said he would return to New Jersey on Wednesday to “take a deep breath and see what the final results are tonight.”
Staff shakeup for Clinton?
Only hours before the primary, new clouds gathered around the Clinton campaign following a Politico report that the candidate and her husband were disappointed with the direction of her campaign and that a staff shakeup could be in the offing.
Clinton, after a campaign stop in Manchester, responded to the reports of a campaign shakeup in an interview on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Monday, acknowledging her campaign will “take stock” of their operation.
“I have no idea what they’re talking about or who they are talking to,” Clinton said of the Politico report. “We’re going to take stock, but it’s going to be the campaign that I’ve got. I’m very confident in the people that I have. I’m very committed to them, they’re committed to doing the best we can.”
David Axelrod, a CNN senior political commentator and former top adviser to President Barack Obama, suggested that the blame lies at the top.
“When the exact same problems crop up in separate campaigns, with different staff, at what point do the principals say, ‘Hey, maybe it’s US?'” Axelrod tweeted.