Trump declared winner in South Carolina, Jeb Bush drops out of race

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during a South Carolina Republican primary night event, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 in Spartanburg, S.C. Trump is the winner in the South Carolina Republican primary. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – The nation’s first Southern state primary helped launch Donald Trump to a strong victory and forced a former front-runner to drop out of the race.

“We expect to do very, very well,” said Donald Trump at a rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on Saturday night. The real-estate mogul easily won the Palmetto state primary while Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio battled it out for every vote in second place.

Trump on path to the nomination

Donald Trump’s victory on Saturday night in South Carolina guaranteed him the front-runner spot the media had latched on for several months.

“We’re going to start winning for our country,” said Mr. Trump during his primetime speech covered live by the cable news networks. The Trump campaign tried to dampen expectations in South Carolina after an impressive win in New Hampshire but second place finish in Iowa. Mr. Trump doubled down on his efforts to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and to end the controversial White House healthcare plan commonly called Obamacare.

Bush unable to capture the family momentum

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush failed to capture the momentum his family once found in South Carolina and decided on Saturday night to drop out from the 2016 race. Addressing supporters in a crowded ballroom in South Carolina, the former GOP front-runner choked back tears while suspending his campaign.

Second is the new first

The race between Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio remained too close to call as of 9 p.m. Saturday. The candidate who finishes in second place will be able to walk away from South Carolina with much needed momentum heading into Super Tuesday.

For the latest in the Race for The White House, follow @markpmeredith on Twitter.

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