Bernie Sanders scored an upset victory over Hillary Clinton in Michigan’s Democratic primary on Tuesday, boosting his campaign at a time when Clinton had started turning her focus to a potential GOP rival.
But even with Sanders’ surprise showing, Clinton could extend her delegate margin after she won a lopsided victory in Mississippi.
Sanders, speaking to reporters in Florida before the race was called, said that the close results from Michigan showed that voters there “repudiated” the polls and pundits “who said Bernie Sanders is not going anywhere.”
Clinton, with a substantial delegate lead, was considered the likely winner given recent polling. A blowout victory in both states would have bolstered notions that she was pulling away with the nomination.
Instead, the race may go on longer that expected, particularly with a boost that Sanders may get in fundraising off his victory.
Voters appeared to have responded to Sanders message, about a “rigged” economy that has only grown worse by corporate-driven free trade deals and economic policies that favor Wall Street. In their most recent debate in Flint, Mich., on Sunday, Sanders tried to characterize Clinton as inconsistent on one of the most recent deals, the Trans Pacific Partnership.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump won primaries in Michigan and Mississippi and a caucus in Hawaii, while Ted Cruz won the primary in Idaho.
Trump said that his victories were a sign that an escalating barrage of TV attack ads to block his path to the GOP nomination weren’t working.
On Tuesday, dubbed “Super Tuesday II” by some media outlets, Michigan and Mississippi held presidential primaries, while Idaho was holding a Republican primary and Hawaii a GOP caucus.
At a rally in Cleveland earlier in the evening, before Michigan’s results came in, Clinton turned her attention to a potential Republican rival.
“Running for president shouldn’t be about delivering insults. It should be about delivering results,” she said, albeit not mentioning Trump by name.
“If we reach for love and kindness instead of bluster and bigotry, we can see the best in each other, not the worst,” she said.
But her speech came in the midst of a press conference by Trump, and some networks stayed on the real estate mogul’s remarks.
As he spoke to reporters at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., his press conference at times took on the tone of an infomercial, as he waved an issue of Trump magazine, and made reference to a gallery of Trump brands, including wines, champagne and steaks, which were stocked in the room. He touted his business successes, along with friendships with figures like golfer Jack Nicklaus.
“What this shows is advertising is not as important as competence,” Trump told reporters.
Trump was referring to a wave of anti-Trump TV spots, including one that began running on Florida on Tuesday attacking Trump’s use of offensive language. It came from the American Future Fund, a conservative outside group that is registered as a 501(c) organization and not required to disclose its donors. Last week, Mitt Romney urged GOP voters to stop Trump, as he and other GOP figures warned that his candidacy would be disastrous for the party.
According to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, 62% of all GOP spending for the first week of March was for anti-Trump advertising, from 15% in the first week of February.
But Trump said that the results of Tuesday’s primaries showed that the attack ads against him weren’t working. he even suggested that the American Future Fund spot would end up helping him.
He also said that the GOP establishment should “embrace” his campaign, noting its ability to draw higher turnout.
“We will win the election easily,” he said.
His campaign unveiled an ad characterizing Marco Rubio as “corrupt.” A Trump win on March 15 could force Rubio from the race, and the Florida senator was running fourth in Michigan and Mississippi in Tuesday’s voting.
Trump also posted a YouTube video in which he named two former students at Trump University, Bob Guillo and Kevin Scott, who have appeared in American Future Fund videos contending that they were scammed by the real estate seminar program. Trump held up course evaluations he said show that Guillo and Scott each gave their experience high marks.