Donald Trump now has 61 of 1,237 delegates needed.
SOUTH CAROLINA, US (AA) - Presidential hopeful Donald Trump on Saturday won the South Carolina Republican primary. Trump received 33 percent of the vote with 98 percent of the total counted.
Following his victory in the New Hampshire primary earlier this month and a second-place finish at the Iowa caucuses, Trump said he is now heading to Nevada with “a tremendous motivation” for the Nevada Republican caucuses Tuesday.
Trump’s strong showing Saturday occurs amid a row with Pope Francis about the billionaire’s plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Francis said if reports are true about Trump, he would question his Christian credentials for saying he would build such a wall and deport millions of undocumented migrants in the country.
Sens. Marco Rubio edged Sen. Ted Cruz for second place with 22.5 percent to Cruz’s 22.3 percent after several fluctuations.
With a disappointing showing, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced he was suspending his campaign after receiving less than 8 percent of the vote to finish in fourth place. “The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken and I really respect their decision,” Bush said after dropping out.
Without mentioning Bush, Trump acknowledged the difficulties of running for the highest office in the land. “There’s nothing easy about running for president, I can tell you. It’s tough, it’s nasty, it’s mean, it’s vicious, it’s beautiful,” he said.
Bush and Trump fought a mostly contentious battle until Saturday and at times it became personal with the two candidates often trading jabs. Ohio Gov. John Kasich managed 7.6 percent of the vote Saturday while Dr. Ben Carson finished at 7.2 percent. With his win Saturday, Trump now has 61 of 1,237 delegates needed to secure his party’s nomination for president. Cruz follows with 11 delegates and Rubio has 10.
Kasich stands at 5 and Carson has 3 delegates.