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Clinton, Trump Head Into Super Tuesday With Momentum


South Carolina has voted again. Donald Trump ran away with the state in last week's Republican primary. The numbers are now in for yesterday's Democrat race. And voters there gave Hillary Clinton a sizable victory. Here she is celebrating in South Carolina last night.


HILLARY CLINTON: We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything, and we're not taking anyone for granted.


BERNIE SANDERS: I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her very strong victory. Tuesday, over 800 delegates are at stake. And we intend to win many, many of them.

MARTIN: And of course, that second voice was Bernie Sanders, already on the tarmac last night in Minnesota, one of about a dozen states voting on Super Tuesday. NPR national political correspondent Mayra Liasson is with us now. Good morning, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: A lot of people expected Hillary Clinton to carry the day in South Carolina. It looks like Bernie Sanders thought that as well because he didn't even stick around.

LIASSON: No, he didn't stick around. Hillary Clinton had a huge victory last night. She beat Bernie Sanders by a bigger margin in South Carolina than Barack Obama had beaten her in 2008. She won African-American votes, something like 87 to 13 percent. So Bernie Sanders couldn't make inroads with the African-American community. Now we're on to Super Tuesday, where a lot of the states have similar populations as South Carolina. So Bernie Sanders is looking to the whiter, more liberal states like Massachusetts, Vermont, Minnesota and, surprisingly enough, Oklahoma, who also - which also votes on Tuesday.

MARTIN: All right, before we look forward to Super Tuesday, can we just look back a little bit? Because it was a big week for the GOP in particular. Can you remind us what happened?

LIASSON: Oh, my goodness. It was an incredible week. Trump's - at least for the Republican establishment, Donald Trump's candidacy went from unimaginable to almost surely inevitable. And what had been a slow-motion freak-out in the Republican establishment really turned into a stone-cold panic. So you had the debate, very ferocious debate, and on the stump later, Marco Rubio trying to one-up Trump with snark (ph) and bathroom humor, talking about Trump's spray tan, suggesting he might have wet his pants. You have Trump firing back, talking about Rubio's big ears. Now the establishment has coalesced behind Rubio. It's now promising tens of millions of dollars in an anti-Trump television ad effort. But by the end of the week, Trump, in true Trump fashion, found a way to reestablish his dominance of the news cycle when he rolled out the surprise endorsement of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Or current...

MARTIN: Yeah, current New Jersey governor.

LIASSON: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

MARTIN: And you know, you say that the establishment is kind of coalescing around Rubio now. But Chris Christie, like you said, current governor of New Jersey - governors are considered to be kind of establishment endorsements. So how does this complicate things?

LIASSON: And he was the head of the Republican Governors Association. Well, it's a couple things. Either the establishment is coming around to Trump or the party is in a deep identity crisis and even a civil war. Or it could be the simplest explanation of all, that this is really more about Chris Christie and his own ambitions and grievances. But what you're going to see is the Republican establishment is now going to dump the entire contents of a file cabinet full of opposition research on Trump - his employment of illegal Polish immigrants, allegations of fraud at Trump University. It's all going to be on the air. The big question is, is it too late? And will it move Trump supporters who have so far been very, very loyal? And will these attacks make a difference in upcoming states like Florida, which votes on March 15 and which Marco Rubio has to win?

MARTIN: So much to keep watching and Mara Liasson will help us do that in days and weeks to come. NPR national political correspondent, Mara Liasson. Thanks so much, Mara.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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