Sanders, Pete Buttigieg emerge frontrunners from Democrats to face Trump
Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg have emerged as frontrunners from the Democratic party.
AFP,Â United States :
Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg stepped forward Wednesday as undisputed frontrunners in the race to take on President Donald Trump in November after finishing first and second in the New Hampshire primary.
The 78-year-old leftist senator from neighboring Vermont and the young former mayor of South Bend, Indiana took 26 and 24 percent of the votes in Tuesday's voting. Last week in Iowa's caucuses they also finished as the top two-with Buttigieg narrowly beating Sanders.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden tried to sound optimistic after his sagging campaign took another awful hit with a fifth-place showing, behind Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator whose star also has dimmed.
The nine candidates left in the race will now turn their attention to primaries in Nevada on February 22 and South Carolina on the 29th. Looming is the big prize of so-called Super Tuesday on March 3, when 14 states hold their primaries.
"Our victory in New Hampshire isn't about me. It's about us. It's about the movement our supporters, volunteers and grassroots donors built, which will transform this country," Sanders tweeted. On Tuesday night he told jubilant supporters his win marked "the beginning of the end for Donald Trump."
Still, Sanders' margin of victory was leaner than polls had predicted. In the 2016 campaign he took a whopping 60 percent of the votes in New Hampshire, finishing far ahead of Hillary Clinton.
The race for the nomination is long and unpredictable, but for now Sanders is a source of worry for those in the party who fear that, with his sweeping and expensive health care reform proposals, he is too far to the left to beat Trump.
"I'm afraid. I'm afraid because if Bernie wins it, half the country is going to side with socialism," Robert Burrows, a 35-year-old mechanic in Manchester, told AFP. "I think it could ruin, destroy the country. It will bankrupt the country," said Burrows.
The race to represent the centrist wing of the party is up for grabs among Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, who finished a solid third in New Hampshire, and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who entered the race late and skipped Iowa and New Hampshire. He is paying for his campaign with his vast personal fortune.
Then there's Biden, the one-time frontrunner in the race banking on his instant name recognition as Barack Obama's vice president and his 50 years of public service. He got only eight percent of the votes.
A new Quinnipiac University poll said this week that Biden has skidded nationally from 26 to 17 percent support since the end of January.