Sun, Feb 21, 2016 - Page 7 News List

White House hopefuls face new test

SCRAMBLE FOR VOTES:Ahead of the Nevada caucus, both Democratic candidates are trying to appeal to the minorities, as they make up half of the state’s population

AFP, CHARLESTON, South Carolina

Supporters cheer for Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders while waiting for his arrival at a rally in Henderson, Nevada, on Friday.

Photo:AP

White House hopefuls face their third test on Saturday when Republicans square off in South Carolina with Donald Trump enjoying a commanding lead and Democrats battle in Nevada where Hillary Rodham Clinton is seeking a comeback.

As the race moves on, the two parties are on separate battlefields. In South Carolina, Republicans are to vote in a primary, while in Nevada, Democrats are to caucus — grouping themselves together by candidate to voice their support.

Trump is looking for a big symbolic win ahead of “Super Tuesday” — March 1, when about a dozen states would go to the polls, with a quarter of the nominating delegates up for grabs.

“It’s crunch time, folks,” Trump, 69, told voters at a North Charleston rally, his final pitch before the South Carolina primary.

The real-estate billionaire finished second to Senator Ted Cruz in Iowa on Feb. 1, but secured a commanding win in New Hampshire one week later.

Trump took no chances on Friday, urging all of his supporters to troop to the polls.

“I don’t want your money,” added Trump, who is self-funding his campaign. “We want your vote.”

On the eve of the primary, Trump led with about 28 percent of likely Republicans voters backing him, according to an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll.

The ultra-conservative Cruz followed with 23 percent. Trailing were Senator Marco Rubio at 15 percent and former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 13 percent. Rubio and Bush are under intense pressure to fare well on Saturday, as is Ohio Governor John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, whose campaign has struggled to gain traction.

To the west, Democrats were making their closing arguments in Nevada for Saturday’s caucuses.

The key issue is the minority vote: blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans make up roughly half of the state’s population.

Clinton, who won by a hair in Iowa and lost big to rival Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, is counting on a major Hispanic voter turnout, especially among the hotel and casino employees in Las Vegas.

Since Wednesday, the former secretary of state, 68, has visited staff at Caesars Palace, the MGM Grand and the Paris casinos to persuade them to join her camp.

Clinton — seeking to be the US’ first female president — has presented herself as the natural ally of Latino families on the issue of immigration, promising a quick path to citizenship for those in the country illegally if she is elected.

The former first lady has relentlessly attacked the 74-year-old Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, for voting against immigration reform in 2007.

Sanders has defended himself by saying the 2007 law did not do enough to protect “guest workers,” and that he voted in 2013 for an immigration reform bill, which never came to fruition due to Republican opposition in the US House of Representatives.

Clinton received a boost on Friday when she was endorsed by Democrat Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the most senior African-American in US Congress.

Sanders’ camp is nevertheless convinced that young minority voters will back him.

“Because of the momentum that Bernie has created with the win in New Hampshire and the tie in Iowa, we have been able to have the platform to speak to a broader audience, including the Latino community,” Erika Andiola, a Sanders spokeswoman, told AFP in Las Vegas.

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