UPDATE: 9:05 p.m. EST – Amid chants of “USA!, USA!,” businessman Donald Trump took to the stage of his campaign headquarters in South Carolina on Saturday evening to accept his victory in the state's Republican primary.
Trump said the U.S. was no longer “winning” across the globe. He echoed campaign talking points, saying a wall would be built along the U.S.-Mexico border and that Mexican politicians would pay for it.
The New Yorker said he loves “many of the countries that rip us off,” accusing China of conducting the “greatest single theft” against the U.S. Trump said past American leaders had been incompetent and that he would put business leaders in charge of trade negotiations to ensure that America will “be great again.” He also spoke about protecting the Second Amendment and “loving” the military and police.
Trump thanked his volunteers, who have now shifted their focus to races in Nevada and Texas. The real estate mogul said he will head to Nevada next. “We go back to war tomorrow morning,” he said after congratulating Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who were still battling for second place as results continued to arrive from across the Palmetto State.
The real estate developer joked that his pregnant daughter Ivanka could give birth at any minute, as his family flanked him onstage. His wife Melania, who has rarely spoken on the campaign trail, said her husband would make an amazing president, while Ivanka called her father “a hard worker.”
Meanwhile, former Florida Gov. Jed Bush dropped out of the race Saturday evening after a poor showing. Trump, who has had an acrimonious campaign relationship with Bush -- the brother of former President George W. Bush and a son of former President George H.W. Bush -- did not mention Jeb Bush in his remarks.
UPDATE: 8:45 p.m. EST – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has suspended his campaign for the presidency after a disappointing showing for his campaign in South Carolina. Bush said the country “deserves a president for everyone.” He said he wanted the American people to elect a “servant” and not a “master” to the presidential office in remarks at his South Carolina headquarters Saturday evening.
He said he was proud of the campaign he had run and the conservative solutions he put forward. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz were neck-and-neck battling for second place as results continue to be reported from across South Carolina in the Republican primary. Businessman Donald Trump won the state’s primary and the Associated Press is predicting he will win at least 38 out of 50 delegates.
BREAKING: Jeb Bush announces he is suspending his presidential campaign https://t.co/OPUke2FW8m
— ABC News (@ABC) February 21, 2016
Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson who is polling in fifth place told his supporters he was planning to stay in the race.
UPDATE: 7:35 p.m. EST – The Associated Press has called the South Carolina Republican primary for businessman Donald Trump. NBC News also has Trump as the winner.
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 21, 2016
People (pundits) gave me no chance in South Carolina. Now it looks like a possible win. I would be happy with a one vote victory! (HOPE)
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2016
UPDATE: 7:19 p.m. EST -- With the polls having closed at 7 p.m. EST, preliminary results have begun to roll in, according to CNN, which is reporting that businessman Donald Trump was enjoying an early lead for South Carolina's Republican primary. Trump has registered a double-digit lead over Texas Sen ted Cruz, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
That trio is followed in descending order by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who placed second in the New Hampshire contest earlier this month.
A Fox News exit poll also has Trump in the lead, only not as large.
— Saving Liberty (@LibertyUSA1776) February 20, 2016
UPDATE: 6:58 p.m. EST -- South Carolina voters weighed in on the topic of immigration, according to preliminary exit poll data, which showed the group overwhelmingly supports a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S., a proposal first tossed by Republican presidential leader Donald Trump. Seventy-four percent of GOP voters in the Palmetto State want the ban, while 23 percent do not, reported ABC News.
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) February 20, 2016
For Republican voters in South Carolina, terrorism is chief among the issues they care about during the 2016 presidential primary cycle, according to exit poll data announced by CBS News Saturday afternoon as the state's GOP presidential primary took place.
The political trio of businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio were battling it out, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich rounded out the remaining slate of GOP White House hopefuls.
The polls close at 7 p.m. EST.
Before the primary took place, Trump, who has long maintained front-runner status in the race, was found to have lost his considerable lead in the state among the candidates, according to a poll released Friday. Having previously enjoyed the support of 42 percent of the state's Republican voters, that number decreased to 36 percent -- still good for a double-digit lead over his closest rival, Cruz.
Rubio and Cruz have been exchanging sharp accusations throughout the week, and hours ahead of Saturday's vote, it all came to a head when Rubio complained about Cruz's controversial campaign tactics of sending out mailers to voters. The mailer showed a Photoshopped image morphing Rubio's face with that of President Barack Obama, invoking the ire of the Rubio campaign.
“Proving that he will say or do anything to win an election, Senator Cruz is actually attacking someone for holding the same position he held and making the exact same vote he did,” Rubio's campaign spokesperson Joe Pounder said, Yahoo News reported.
That was said in response to Cruz's campaign spokesperson Rick Tyler, who blasted accusations that the ploy had racist overtones to it. “The image makes the point that if you like Barack Obama’s trade policy, you’ll like Marco Rubio’s because they are same,” he said. “That is all the image is meant to convey.”