Feb. 20, 2016 South Carolina Republican Primary:
Results and Reactions

South Carolina State Election Commission
unofficial results 46 of 46 counties reporting

Jeb Bush
Ben Carson
Ted Cruz
John. R Kasich
Marco Rubio
Donald J. Trump


Jeb 2016


Miami, FL – Tonight, Governor Jeb Bush delivered a thank you speech to his supporters in Columbia, South Carolina. Video and text of the remarks are below.


Jeb: Thank You for the Opportunity to Run for the Greatest Office on the Face of the Earth


When I began this journey in Miami, I committed that, I would campaign as I would serve, going everywhere, speaking to everyone, keeping my word, facing the issues without flinching, and staying true to what I believe. For the better part of a year, I have endeavored to do just exactly that. I have put forward a vision for America that includes all and includes all...because our country deserves a president for everyone. The presidency is bigger than any one person… and it is certainly bigger than any candidate. This is not, we’re different in our country because our head of state is not above us, but because the head of state, the people who aspire to the presidency are of the people. In a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” we elect a president like us…imperfect under God’s watchful eye. I have had a front row seat to this office for much of my adult life. I have seen fallible men rise up to the challenges of our time, with humility, and clarity of purpose… to make our nation safer, stronger, and freer. I firmly believe the American people must entrust this office to someone who understands that whoever holds it is the servant, not the master. Someone who will commit to that service with honor and decency. Our next president will lead an extraordinary country, whose people have always made the improbable, possible… in ways big and small. Every day, Americans test the boundaries of freedom and achieve more than what they could have dreamed. But over the last seven years, our nation’s bright light has become little more than a flicker. We have retreated from the world stage. The American values that have brought peace and opportunity are fading. That is not the America we know and love. America is a country that thinks big, acts boldly and leads without apology. It will be up to the next president to restore that kind of leadership. I’m proud of the campaign that we have run to unify the country. And to advocate for conservative solutions that would give more Americans the opportunity to rise up and reach their God-given potential. But the people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken. I respect their decision. So, tonight, I am suspending my campaign. I congratulate my competitors, that are remaining on the island, on their success in a race that has been hard-fought, just as the contest for the presidency should be because it is a tough job. In this campaign I have stood my ground, refusing to bend with the political winds. We put forward detailed, innovative, conservative plans to address the mounting challenges that we face. Because despite what you may have heard. Ideas matter, policy matters. I truly hope that these ideas that we have laid out will serve as a blueprint for a generation of conservatives leaders at every level of government so that we can take back our country. We laid out plans on everything from reforming our tax and regulatory system, to reviving our economy, to rebuilding our military, to fixing the VA once and for all. Finally, I am grateful to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, for his steadfast support and his amazing humor.  He stole the line that I’m now saying which is that he has become a friend for life. I thank all of the Jeb alumni, many of them are here that have been going door-to-door all across the country, who put their lives on hold for this cause.  To my mom and brother, who came here to South Carolina, America truly loves them and respects them and so do I. I want to thank all of my family, 2.0 is always back there in the back. To my dad, who has always served an inspiration to me and is the greatest man alive. To the volunteers and supporters I have met along this incredible journey. And to all the fellow “grinders” on our campaign, our staff who never ever gave up. I’ve had an incredible life and for me, public service has been the highlight of my life. But no matter what the future holds, here’s the greatest safety landing if you can imagine, tonight I’m going to sleep next to my best friend and the love of my life. I am totally blessed to be the father of three extraordinary children and you might know, four near-perfect grandchildren. And I will be blessed to say I am living in the greatest country the world has ever known. I remain optimistic that, with the right kind leadership, that we all need to work to make sure happens, America’s best days are ahead. With strong conservative leadership, Republicans can win the White House, and we can get back to being in the verge of having the greatest time to be alive and that’s what I honestly believe and I know you do as well. I look forward to working you to make that dream come true. I will do it as a private citizen, just as you are. Thank you for the opportunity to run for the greatest office on the face of the earth. I love you all, God bless you.


Carson America

Dr. Ben Carson’s Statement on South Carolina Primary

Greenville, South Carolina - February 20, 2016 - With only three states casting votes for the Republican presidential nomination, Dr. Ben Carson stands as one of only five candidates remaining of the original 17, and received as many delegates in South Carolina as all other candidates but the winner. Dr. Carson is humbled by the support and donations from hundreds of thousands across the country who look to him as their voice for change in a system that has left “We the People” behind. His consistent message of faith, integrity and common sense solutions has resonated with the people; he continues to be viewed more favorably than any other candidate and routinely polls as the most honest and sincere person in the race. And a poll out today confirmed he would beat Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head race.

“Thank you to my many supporters and volunteers in South Carolina and around the country,” said Dr. Carson. “While professional politicians have long written off our efforts to return the government to the people, we remain undaunted. We’ve barely finished the first inning, and there’s a lot of game left. I look forward to carrying on to the Nevada caucuses, sharing my message to “Heal, Inspire, and Revive” this great nation. As more Americans have their say, they will see the true strength of our movement.”

A. Larry Ross
Communications Director

Kasich for America

"Tonight it Became a Four-Person Race"

Kasich for America Chief Strategist John Weaver issued the following statement tonight after the polls closed in South Carolina:
"Tonight it became a four-person race for the nomination.  Only four candidates have top-three finishes in any of the early states and can justify staying in.  At the same time, John Kasich has now won the so-called 'Governors Bracket' by continuing to run strong and beat expectations.  While others were making their last stand in South Carolina, John Kasich strengthened his organization and support--despite being outspent by tens of millions of dollars.  He also focused on the key states ahead for us, like Michigan, where he is currently second, Massachusetts and Vermont.  Next week the governor campaigns in Virginia--where he is third, Georgia, and other states where he is rising.  As the race narrows to four candidates and enters the next phase, it also turns toward states that favor the governor and make his path to the nomination increasingly clear."
Bush: $13,783,000
Cruz: $7,070,000
Kasich: $882,000
Rubio: $12,050,000
Trump:    $1,780,000


Marco Rubio for President

Election Night Rally With Marco

Marco Rubio

Columbia, South Carolina

February 20, 2016


MARCO RUBIO: Thank you. First of all, I want to begin by -- I want to begin by congratulating Donald Trump. We haven't had a chance to speak yet. He won here tonight. But after tonight this has become a three-person race, and we will win the nomination!


I also a few moments ago got to see on television -- I have not had a chance to speak to him yet -- Governor Bush and his announcement. I have an incredible affection and admiration not just for Governor Bush but for his family and for their service to our country. 


Jeb Bush has many things to be proud of. He is an extraordinary husband. He's an extraordinary father. He was the greatest governor in the history of Florida.


And I believe, and I pray that his service to our country has not yet ended. And I thank Jeb Bush for everything he did for the state of Florida and for running a campaign based on ideas. And I pray for him and his family tonight as they move forward in other endeavors in their life. 


Tonight here in South Carolina, the message is pretty clear. This country is now ready for a new generation of conservatives to guide us into the 21st century. 


For the time has now come after eight years of failure to return to the Constitution of the United States that made us the freest people that have ever lived. The time has now come for leaders that will re-embrace free enterprise, which made us the most prosperous people that have ever lived. And the time has come to rebuild our military, because the world is a better, a safer, and more stable place when we are the strongest military in the world.


We as a nation have faced troubling times before. In fact, 36 years ago this nation faced a period of doubt. After a failed presidency it felt like America was in decline, our economy was stagnant, and the American Dream felt like it was slipping away. And then we elected a president that inspired us, a president who asked us to remember who we were and who believed as we do that America's greatest days always lie ahead. Ronald Reagan -- 


Ronald Reagan made us believe that it was Morning in America again. And it was. Well now the children of the Reagan revolution are ready to assume the mantle of leadership.


Now those of us who grew up when it was morning in America and Ronald Reagan was in the White House are ready to do for our generation - are ready to do for the next generation what Ronald Reagan did for ours. 


And who is this conservative movement in the 21st century? Because our principles remain the same. But who are we? My friends, the 21st century conservatives are the son of a single mother who grew up in poverty and was almost lost. And today he serves this state as its junior senator, Tim Scott. 


The 21st century conservative movement is the daughter of immigrants from India who wanted desperately for their children to have all the opportunities they never did. Who faced a string of prejudice and yet because of the greatness of our country today, Nikki Haley is the governor of a state where it's always a great day. 


And the 21st century conservative movement is the son of a bartender and a maid from Cuba who tonight stands one step closer to being the 45th president of the United States of America. 


AUDIENCE: Marco! Marco! 


RUBIO: We are a nation -- we are a nation and a people that celebrates success. We are a nation that admire people that have worked hard and moved ahead. And as conservatives we will always celebrate success. But we fight for those who are still trying to make it. If tonight you are that single mother who has made it the purpose of your life to leave your children better off than yourself, in the 21st century we conservatives will fight for you. If you are watching tonight and you are that father that works two jobs so that your kids could have all the chances you never did in the 21st century, we conservatives will fight for you. 


If you're the 17-year-old high school student who wants a big future, and so you get up well before dawn to take two buses to a better school halfway across town, who gets home late at night to do homework because you know that God has made you for more than what people around you tell you, you were made for. in the 21st century we conservatives will fight for you. 


We will fight for you because we come from where you are now. Because we lived the way you live now, and we know that limited government and free enterprise and a strong national defense is a better way forward for you, for me, for us, and for the United States of America.


Tonight, for those watching at home, I ask you to join us in this effort. This has been a long road. There were many people on this campaign when it first started, many good people.  Many of whom in any other year would have been a frontrunner. But now, practically speaking, it's down to three. And I know that our campaign gives us the best chance not just to come together, not just to unify our party but to unify our country and to grow this movement.


I ask you to go on our website. If you're watching tonight, I ask you to go on our website right now, marcorubio.com, and join our campaign.

Sixty years ago a young couple from Cuba came to America in search of a new beginning, a second chance, a fresh start, and America changed their lives. Of course I'm talking about my parents. Ten days ago their son arrived in South Carolina, after a difficult election in New Hampshire, in search of a new beginning and a fresh start. And many thought it was over. Somehow doubts about whether we would wind up here even now. For me the state of South Carolina will always be the place of new beginnings and fresh starts.


I know that God's hand is on everything, and so whatever God's will is in this election is what will ultimately happen to us and to our country. But if it is God's will that I should serve as the 45th president. If it is God's will that we should win this election, then history will say that on this night in South Carolina we took the first step forward in the beginning of a New American Century. Thank you, South Carolina! 


fundraising email...

Fellow Conservative,
After the results in New Hampshire, the media and Marco's opponents wrote our campaign off.
They said Marco had no chance, that he wasn't angry enough, that Americans weren't buying into his positive vision, that Republicans didn't want a nominee who could speak to all Americans.
Well, tonight in South Carolina we proved them wrong.
But Fellow Conservative, this fight is just beginning. Marco's taking nothing for granted in this election.  We are now in a three-man race for the nomination, but that's going to be a long, tough battle.
Marco's opponents both have millions upon millions of dollars that they've shown they'd be happy to use to mudsling. In order to fight back, it's going to take all hands on deck.

We put together personalized links just for you, Fellow Conservative, to make a special donation on this historic night.


We need to channel tonight's great results into action and movement across the country. And we don't have any time to waste! On Tuesday, voters in Nevada will caucus for their presidential choice and then the following week more than a dozen states will vote!


Will you stand up and show your support for Team Marco right now by making a financial contribution to our campaign?


We can win the Republican nomination and then the general election, but Fellow Conservative, this isn't going to be easy. Marco's opponents and the media are watching the campaign's every move to see how we take last night's results and turn them into even better results.


We need to know right now if we can count on you. Your donation, no matter the size will make a HUGE impact for our campaign.


Thank you for your commitment to our team and our nation's future. We are going to win this!


Team Marco

P.S. We know we've emailed you a lot, and we count on your support quite often, but we wouldn't do this unless we absolutely had to. We plan on celebrating on the evening of November 8th, and we hope you'll be celebrating too -- but it's only going to happen if we have your support today.

and the spin continues the next day...

Memo: Takeaways From The South Carolina Results

To:          Team Marco and Interested Parties
From:      Terry Sullivan, Rubio Campaign Manager
Date:       February 21, 2016
Subject:  Takeaways From The South Carolina Results

South Carolina’s results reflect the overall strength of Marco’s candidacy, campaign, and message for the country. It also demonstrates his resiliency as a candidate, with an ability to mount a comeback in a crunch. After a setback in New Hampshire, Marco went into South Carolina with a determination to ensure that his positive vision for a New American Century was shared with people all across the state. The results show that Marco was heard loud and clear by South Carolinians. In the last week, we were buoyed by a strong debate performance, great earned media, and powerful endorsements.
In the weeks ahead, we stand to benefit from a conservative movement and party coalescing around Marco’s candidacy like we saw in South Carolina, as leaders like Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott, and Representative Trey Gowdy as well as numerous state, local, and grassroots leaders united behind him. Today, Marco makes stops in Tennessee and Arkansas as we end the day in Nevada ahead of the caucuses there. To date, only 4 percent of the delegates have been allocated. As I’ve said repeatedly for months now, this is going to be a long delegate fight and we have a candidate and a campaign built to prevail.
Here are 9 key takeaways from last night:
1) This is a three-man race: As we said after Iowa, this is now and will remain a three-man race for the Republican presidential nomination. As the field consolidates, polls have shown that Marco benefits the most. We have always been the candidate with the most room to grow, unlike Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. He is consistently the second choice of voters who support other candidates and has the highest favorability of anyone in the race.

2) Marco is the strongest candidate in the race: Marco rebounded from a disappointing result in New Hampshire. In total, he faced $10.4 million in negative advertising and a wave of dirty tricks from his opponents in South Carolina. Despite all of that anti-Marco spending, their attacks did not break through. According to exit polls, Marco actually won amongst those who preferred their next president have political experience with 36 percent of the vote. Going forward, Marco’s favorability remains strong and he has broad appeal across all elements of the conservative movement and Republican Party.
3) Like Iowa, we built a strong ground game and seldom talked about it: Over the last few months, the campaign built a strong ground game in South Carolina. In the last week at our four offices in the state, our team of staff and volunteers made 20,000 calls per day. Through our on-the-ground operation, digital effort, and data operation, we surpassed our total vote goal and even over-performed in the Upstate. Unlike other campaigns, our field organization is built for success in all 50 states, not just one or two.
4) Voters know Marco is the candidate who can defeat the Democrats: For those who said winning in November was their top candidate quality, Marco won with 49 percent. Marco is consistently the only Republican to beat Hillary Clinton in head-to-head polls.
5) South Carolina was made for Ted Cruz and he fell short: If Ted Cruz can do no better than third place in a state like South Carolina where 73 percent of the electorate described themselves as “born-again or evangelical Christian,” where else can he win? As Fox News described it, the “big distress signal for the Cruz campaign” was the split of the evangelical vote with Donald Trump. Marco himself took a significant part of the vote. As Erick Erickson noted, “with that ground game and that evangelical turn out, why is Cruz at that level?” The Cruz campaign ultimately touted making 50,000 calls per day and knocking on 7,000 doors per day. And yet, as Fox News’ Carl Cameron noted, Cruz’s “ground game doesn’t appear to have materialized” in South Carolina.

6) Ted Cruz will truly say anything at all to get elected and ran the nastiest campaign South Carolina has ever seen: 
In South Carolina, Senator Cruz continued his campaign of lies, falsehoods, and under-handed tactics that first began in Iowa with false rumors about Ben Carson. Just in the past week, we saw the Cruz campaign and their allies unleash a wave of lies about Marco’s record, false rumors that Marco was dropping out, anonymous push polls, outrageous robocalls in both English and Spanish, fake Facebook posts, personal insults directed at popular South Carolina leaders, and ads that had to actually be taken down. 

7) Ted Cruz’s dishonest tactics have left him with permanent damage: 
 According to exit polls, 32 percent of voters thought that Senator Cruz ran the most unfair campaign. What Senator Cruz did in Iowa to Ben Carson and tried to do to Marco Rubio in South Carolina will continue to echo through this race. National Review’s Alexis Levinson captured this when she wrote today:
But one of the more problematic upshots of the past ten days for Cruz could be that it has crystallized a new line of attack that will continue to dog him as he moves on: the perception that he is a “liar” campaigning on a dishonest premise.

As we saw in South Carolina, Senator Cruz’s willingness to say or do anything in order to win an election does not wear well on voters.

8) Donald Trump has a ceiling: 
Donald Trump’s electoral ceiling is in the mid 30s. He has the highest negatives of any candidate by far and the most voters who say they would refuse to vote for him. Simply put, Donald Trump can never get to 50 percent and only will continue as a frontrunner as long as the field is crowded.

Looking ahead…

9) John Kasich has no path to the nomination:  Looking ahead, the process for awarding delegates in March states shows that Marco is positioned to end the month with a solid delegate count, while the path for winning the nomination for John Kasich looks unrealistic given the threshold requirements in most states. With the current state of the race, Kasich is currently not in contention for 81.7 percent of the delegates awarded during the week of March 1st. He hasn’t shown any ability to appeal to voters outside the very small moderate/liberal subset of the Republican primary electorate. He has fewer resources, lower name ID and less national infrastructure than Jeb Bush, who last night determined there was no path to the nomination.


Democratic National Committee

DNC Chair Statement on Donald Trump’s Win in South Carolina

WASHINGTON - DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued the following statement on the results of the Republican primary in South Carolina:

“After Donald Trump’s decisive GOP primary victories in both New Hampshire and South Carolina, and Ted Cruz’s victory in Iowa, there is no longer any question over just how out-of-touch and extreme today’s Republican party has become.

“Despite their best efforts to disrupt Trump’s momentum, the rest of the Republican field has faltered even as they’ve spewed campaign rhetoric as extreme as his. Whether it’s Ben Carson's daily confusion and reports that he is running out of cash or Marco Rubio’s growing desperation to spin his way out of three consecutive losses -- even with the endorsement of South Carolina’s popular governor, the once Grand Old Party is now the Party of Trump.

“The Republican Party’s problems extend beyond the primary. Exit polls showing that Nikki Haley’s highly sought-after endorsement barely registered as a factor for 72% of South Carolina voters will severely damage any chance she had of being tapped as a Vice Presidential running mate. And after painting themselves as the new faces of the party, South Carolina’s Republicans responded by strengthening Trump’s extreme grip over the GOP. Trump’s win sends a powerful message: that the Republican Party has rejected the values of the American people, making it all the more clear that we must elect a Democrat as the 45th President of the United States to keep America moving forward.”


"Not Good Enough" – Rubio’s Continued Losses Are Not Sustainable

Commentators are starting to see through Marco Rubio's spin tonight. The results of today's Republican primary in South Carolina made a few things clear. Donald Trump has successfully boxed out the competition on the GOP’s road to the nomination, forcing major candidates like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker to withdraw, and he has left Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio with few and lessening paths to the nomination. As Brett Baier said tonight on Fox News, a bronze medal is just not good enough for Marco Rubio, who has lost every caucus and primary held to date.


Today FEC reports also showed that Rubio’s campaign took in $4.9 million in January but spent $10.3 million, while a big portion of their fundraising can only be used in a general election. Like Jeb Bush, who just dropped out, it’s an unsustainable burn rate while continuing to lose primaries and caucuses.

So while the Tea Party-darling in establishment clothing just tried to spin his loss in South Carolina in a sweaty concession speech, it’s important to highlight exactly why this loss is so devastating. Take a look:


Rubio’s campaign has long promised South Carolina would serve as its firewall state, and had coaxed donors with promises of a 3-2-1 strategy that would have him building momentum in New Hampshire and coming out on top in the Palmetto State.

Rubio invested heavily in South Carolina for years – so much so that he’s been referred to as the “adopted prince” by the state’s GOP royalty. In fact, Rubio’s campaign and Super PAC are both led by veteran South Carolina operatives, and one of his top advisors helped propel the last three Republican presidents to their victories in the state’s primary. 

And with Rubio locking up endorsements from the state’s most popular GOP office-holders, including from Governor Nikki Haley in the closing days, the Senator should have carried the state.  

Instead, his loss raises the serious question: if he can’t win here given the institutional ties, key endorsements, make-up of the electorate, and heavy investments, how will he win anywhere else?

Below is a quick look at these facts:


Rubio’s campaign and Super PAC identified South Carolina as the campaign’s firewall because of their institutional and organizational advantages in the state. South Carolina was cited as a “natural home for Rubio.” The New York Times wrote back in July:

“But if there is one group that encapsulates what the Rubio base is, it would probably be the Republican voters of South Carolina. The electorate here, with its close replication of all three legs of the Republican Party’s stool of fiscal, social and national defense conservatives, essentially fits the Rubio campaign’s playbook.”

The head of Rubio’s Super PAC, Warren Tompkins, previously said Rubio “matches up very well” with South Carolina. 


National Journal reported last May that Rubio has become “an adopted prince of South Carolina’s political royalty … quickly identified South Carolina as the home base for his eventual presidential effort….snatching up the state's top talent for his political operation, cultivating personal relationships with influential people on the ground, and making repeated trips to keep tabs on his burgeoning circuit of supporters in the state.”

Rubio’s inner circle is stacked with South Carolina veterans – his super PAC is headquartered in Columbia, and “for years, he has been laying a foundation, often informally.” Rubio was also the first candidate to file for South Carolina’s GOP presidential primary.


The active support of Senator Tim Scott, Governor Nikki Haley and Congressman Trey Gowdy – three of South Carolina’s most popular Republicans – should have propelled Rubio into first place. On top of that, Rubio gained the support of numerous South Carolina business leaders, and made a big play for evangelical voters, which made up 74% of South Carolina’s GOP voters, according to exit polls today.


Rubio’s campaign and Super PAC spent almost as much on South Carolina advertising as the Bush team. The campaign purchased $2.4 million on air in South Carolina in the three weeks leading up to the state’s primary, while his Super PAC, Conservative Solutions, bought more than $2 million in airtime alone in the last three weeks. Bush dropped out and Rubio lost again.

3-2-1 HAS NOW BECOME 3-5-¯\_(ツ)_/¯ -Brokered Convention

There has been no Republican candidate who has made as many shifts to their nomination strategy as Marco Rubio, and no modern Republican nominee has won without a win in Iowa or New Hampshire. Rubio’s path forward now looks worse than uncertain and it’s far cry from his team’s claim in July 2015 that “we could win in each of the first four early states.”

More recently, reports surfaced in January that Rubio’s team expected to take third in Iowa, second in New Hampshire and win in South Carolina. Nothing past Iowa has gone according to plan. This month, Rubio said he only needs to make it past March 15 to start gaining delegates, and now his campaign talks of a brokered convention.

Going into Nevada on Tuesday, a state in which Trump holds a nearly 30 point lead over his closest competitors, Rubio’s claims just don’t seem credible.  



Mark Paustenbach 

Correct The Record
CONTACT: Correct The Record
Lizzy Price / Daniel Wessel


Washington, DC — Correct The Record President Brad Woodhouse released the following statement in response to Donald Trump’s victory in South Carolina.
“Today’s results confirm what we already knew — that Donald Trump is the frightening face of the Grand Old Party,” said Brad Woodhouse, President of Correct the Record. “With a first place finish in New Hampshire and now this win in South Carolina, Trump has made clear that a Republican platform that directs anger against Muslims and minorities, promises to kick out and keep out hardworking immigrants, and targets women with sexist attacks and out-of-touch policies can and will bring out voters in the Republican primary.

“With Super Tuesday in less than two weeks, and his poll numbers surging, Trump is on the march to become his party’s nominee. The other GOP candidates have all tried to match Trump and his extreme positions, but they learned tonight that there is nothing like the original – this is the Party of Trump, and he is here to stay.”

Correct The Record is a strategic research and rapid response team designed to defend Hillary Clinton from baseless attacks.

Correct The Record ∙ http://correctrecord.org/Facebook@CorrectRecord