Christie, Fiorina Drop Out; Rest Of The GOP Presidential Field Pushes On
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
The New Hampshire primary didn't really settle the Republican presidential race. It did winnow the field a little bit. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina are now out. The rest of the field quickly moved on to South Carolina, where the Republican primary is just over a week away. NPR's Sarah McCammon has done a scene shift as well. She joins us on the line from Columbia, S.C. Sarah, good morning.
SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Good morning.
GREENE: So after that big win in New Hampshire, am I safe to assume that Donald Trump is out there sounding like a frontrunner right now?
MCCAMMON: Sure enough he is feeling pretty good. He was speaking last night in South Carolina, clearly feeling some momentum and, you know, praised New Hampshire for giving him the big win, also told South Carolina now it's their turn. Last night at Clemson University, he spoke in actually a big livestock arena with a dirt floor. And he told that crowd - another big crowd of, like, 5,000 people that if he wins here in South Carolina, he really has the nomination locked down.
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DONALD TRUMP: If you vote for Trump - and again, I don't want your money; I want your vote - you vote for Trump, we win here, we're going the table. If we win here after winning so big in New Hampshire, all of these characters are going to give it up. We're going to run the table, and we will make America great again. That I can tell you, OK?
MCCAMMON: And as we saw after Trump's win in New Hampshire, you know, some of his rivals did get out. He's predicting more casualties after South Carolina, which, by the way, is known for some pretty brutal politics.
GREENE: All right, so he calls them characters. Some would say they are other candidates. And there are - I mean, the field's smaller but not small - Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, others - I mean, many hoping South Carolina will give them some momentum, right?
MCCAMMON: Yeah. And South Carolina - you know, as a whole, the Republican Party here is pretty conservative. It also has a strong track record of picking nominees - Newt Gingrich being a big exception four years ago. But this year, the two people who are doing well are not the establishment candidates at all - Trump and Ted Cruz. So take John Kasich - not seen as especially competitive here. He is campaigning in South Carolina, but clearly looking past the state to Michigan, for instance, which holds its primary next month. Jeb Bush did better than expected in New Hampshire, but his campaign is still struggling. He will be getting some help soon from his brother, former President George W. Bush. He says his brother is popular here in South Carolina and will be campaigning for him for the first time here soon. The campaign is also, by the way, using the former president in a radio ad for Jeb Bush. And then Rubio admitted that his performance in last week's debate hurt him, but he has a chance to make up for that on Saturday when Republicans debate again.
GREENE: You know, you talk about South Carolina being conservative. Ted Cruz won Iowa with a lot of support from conservatives, evangelicals. Could that really help him here?
MCCAMMON: You know, that is certainly his plan. He's been saying now that it's a two- man race. And in Myrtle Beach yesterday, he told reporters that he's the only one who can beat Trump.
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TED CRUZ: So if you don't believe Donald is the right person to be the Republican nominee, if you don't believe he's the right person to go head-to-head with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, if you don't think he's right person to be commander-in-chief, what we're seeing is conservatives uniting behind our campaign.
MCCAMMON: And that's something, David, he's been saying, by the way, for a while. But it could be true here because in South Carolina, there a lot of evangelicals and Tea Partiers. Cruz is popular with both of those groups.
GREENE: All right, NPR's Sarah McCammon, following the Republican presidential race in South Carolina. Sarah, thanks.
MCCAMMON: Thank you.
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