MANCHESTER, N.H. — Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont scored victories Tuesday here in the nation’s first presidential primary, tapping into anger at the political establishment from different sides of the political spectrum.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich finished a distant but important second among Republicans, keeping the other candidates from breaking out of the pack. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who banked on a New Hampshire break out, was running sixth.
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Trump, the outspoken billionaire whose campaign style has shaken mainstream Republicans, cruised to an easier victory in the GOP primary, drawing more than twice as many votes as any rival.
It was the first victory for an unconventional campaign that insiders believed would fall apart before the primaries started. Eschewing old-fashioned tactics, Trump has drawn huge crowds to rallies where he’s called opponents losers and vowed to make Mexico build a wall along the U.S. southern border.
He entered his victory party Tuesday night to the Beatles’ song “Revolution.”
“We are going to make America great again!” Trump told cheering supporters, repeating his campaign theme. “Nobody is going to mess with us. We are going to preserve our very sacred Second Amendment . . . We are going to knock the hell out of ISIS.”
Referring to the other candidate who won Tuesday, Trump said: “I heard parts of Bernie’s speech. He wants to give away our country. We’re not going to let them.”
From the left, Sanders channeled anger about Wall Street, a “rigged economy” and fat-cat political donors to defeat Hillary Clinton easily, 60 percent to 38 percent (with 81 percent of precincts reporting).
The win was expected — Sanders led Clinton by more than 20 points in polls leading up to the primary — but it also showed that Sanders won’t fade as easily as some predicted.
“The people want real change,” Sanders told supporters after his victory. “We won because we harnessed the energy and excitement that the Democratic Party will need to succeed in November.”
Sanders said he was “overwhelmed” and “deeply moved” by the millions of small donors who contributed to his campaign. Repeating a line from the debates, Sanders took a shot at Clinton in saying it was “too late” for “establishment” politicians.
Clinton conceded after early results showed Sanders with an insurmountable lead.
“I know I have some work to do, particularly with young people,” Clinton told supporters at Southern New Hampshire University. But she ended upbeat, implying the nominating contest will change as it shifts south and west.
“It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get back up,” she said in a fiery speech.
She already began pointing ahead to the next primary, in South Carolina. There, she enjoys stronger support than Sanders does, especially among African-Americans, who were a key part of her short speech.
Looking to brush aside Tuesday’s result, she said: “Now we will take the fight to the entire country.”
Like Sanders, Trump led in all the polls leading up to Tuesday and a key focus became whether any of the other Republicans could break out of the pack.
Kasich, who had been targeting moderate Republicans and independent voters, garnered second place with 16 percent of the vote in early results, compared with Trump’s 35 percent.
Kasich was banking on strong showing here to reshape a campaign by making him the moderate alternative to Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who won last week’s Iowa caucus with strong support from evangelicals.
Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush were vying for third, each with 11 percent. Bush declared “this campaign is not dead.”
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was headed for fifth place. He finished third in Iowa and was thought to be surging before badly stumbling in the last debate before the New Hampshire primary, in which the freshman senator was criticized for lacking experience.