Newspaper article News Sentinel

Tenn. Helps Candidates ; Clinton, Trump Shore Up Support for Nominations

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Tenn. Helps Candidates ; Clinton, Trump Shore Up Support for Nominations

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Voters in Tennessee and other Super Tuesday states might not have thrown the knockout punches that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton needed, but they cemented the two candidates' status as front-runners for their parties' nominations for president.

Trump scored a decisive, 14-point victory in Tennessee's primary and won in six other states, giving him momentum that will be hard for his rivals to overcome going forward in the battle for the Republican nomination.

Clinton throttled Bernie Sanders by 34 points in Tennessee and swept six other states -- five of them in the South -- widening her delegate lead and making it almost impossible for Sanders to catch up in the race for the Democratic nomination.

"Trump looks like he will be favored for the Republican nomination, but it's not over yet," said Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University political scientist who studies elections.

While Clinton hasn't yet clinched the Democratic nomination, she's in a much stronger position and her pathway seems a lot more certain after Tuesday's primaries and caucuses, Oppenheimer said.

In Tennessee, which saw a record turnout for a presidential primary, both candidates dominated their opponents.

Trump won in 94 of the state's 95 counties. The lone exception was Williamson County, which Florida Sen. Marco Rubio carried by four points. Rubio might have been helped there by the high-profile endorsements of Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, Oppenheimer said. Or, "It may just be that he's attracting the more affluent Republican base," he said.

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, a Johnson City Republican, said there's no question Trump's message resonated in Roe's congressional district, which spans a dozen counties in upper East Tennessee.

Roe publicly endorsed Rubio on Monday, the day before voters went to the polls, but "no matter who our nominee ends up being, we need to focus on staying united as a party and preventing President Obama's job-killing policies from continuing for a third term, whether it's through Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders," Roe said Wednesday. …

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