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_The Nevada Democratic caucuses and South Carolina Republican primary are both taking place today for the third and fourth contests of the 2016 presidential campaign. VICE News reporter Olivia Becker and politics editor Sarah Mimms are on the ground in South Carolina covering the Republicans, and reporter Liz Fields is in Nevada covering the Democrats. _
10:15 pm ET: Ted Cruz Vows to Take On the 'Washington Cartel'
Ted Cruz took the stage at his primary watch party in South Carolina tonight to triumphantly address his supporters, despite finishing behind Donald Trump in a virtual tie for second with Marco Rubio.
"South Carolina has given us another remarkable result," said Cruz, before adding that the results were still being reported. According to exit polls, Rubio beat Cruz for second place with just .02 percent of the vote.
"If you are a conservative this is where you belong because only one strong conservative is in a position to win this race," he added.
Cruz began his speech by congratulating Jeb Bush, who exited the race minutes before.
"Governor Bush focused on policy and ideas, and he brought candor, dignity, and honor to the race. I congratulate him on a hard-fought campaign and wish him and his wonderful family all the best."
Cruz was expected to come in second place in South Carolina, where evangelical voters made up nearly three quarters of the Republican voters and the Texas senator had developed an impressive ground game. But Rubio ended up finishing in a close second place instead, dealing a significant blow to Cruz.
But none of this seemed to phase Cruz and his room full of eager supporters clad in Cruz jerseys.
"We will not go quietly into the night and give up on a brighter tomorrow," Cruz concluded, as the crowd chanted "Ted! Ted! Ted!" -Olivia Becker
9:55pm ET: Rubio: It's Down to Three
Senator Marco Rubio took the stage in South Carolina on Saturday night and declared that the contest for the Republican presidential nomination is now a "three-person race."
Rubio is currently tied for second place in the South Carolina primary with Senator Ted Cruz as results continue to pour in. Both candidates are still running significantly behind Donald Trump, the victor tonight.
Rubio was joined onstage by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a potential vice presidential pick who endorsed him this week, as well as Senator Tim Scott and Representative Trey Gowdy, both popular Republican politicians from the state.
Amid loud chants of "Marco! Marco! Marco!" Rubio thanked his supporters in South Carolina for delivering him a quasi-victory. "This has become a three person race and we will win the nomination," he said.
Rubio also addressed those watching at home, whose support he'll need to earn a victory in the next contest in Nevada and on Super Tuesday, when more than a dozen states will vote for Republican candidates. "I ask you to join us in this effort. This has been a long road," Rubio said, citing many good candidates who have dropped out of the race but would have been considered frontrunners "in any other year."
"But now practically speaking it's down to three," he added again. Rubio's campaign is hinging on the anti-Trump vote, supposing that once the race is down to a one-on-one contest, the establishment candidate will have enough support to knock down the frontrunner.
One of those candidates left the race tonight, just moments before Rubio took the stage: former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Bush had been a mentor of sorts to Rubio in his early political career in Florida, though the relationship between the two had grown tense in recent months as both competed for establishment support and big-donor funding. Rubio thanked Bush and called him the best governor Florida had ever seen.
Bush had been backed by major donors from the across the country, which helped the super PAC supporting him, Right to Rise, to become the best funded outside group in this race. Those donors have been grumbling for months about Bush's weak campaign, and many have talked about switching allegience to Rubio, potentially giving him a significant financial edge over the rest of the GOP field. -Sarah Mimms
9:25pm ET: How They Reacted to Rubio's Speech at Cruz's Campaign Party
9:15pm ET: Trump Delivers Victory Speech in South Carolina
Donald Trump thanked his family and supporters tonight as he accepted his landslide victory in South Carolina with the sort of rambling, triumphant speech that has become emblematic of his campaign.
Trump said his campaign is an "incredible movement with incredible people"
"Lets put this thing away and let's make America great again!" he yelled.
"We're going to do a lot of wonderful work," he added. These wonderful things included "terminating Obamacare" and building a wall on the Mexico-US border, paid for by Mexico, Trump added.
Trump vowed to go on to win Nevada and the rest of the southern primaries, where he said "we're going to do very well." He currently has a 16-point lead in Nevada, which he said is "a great state [with] great people."
Trump put his hand on the belly of his daughter Ivanka Trump, who is nine months pregnant. "It could happen at any second here and there's nothing wrong with that!" he yelled before turning over the microphone to her.
"This is an amazing, amazing night," said Ivanka. "My father is an incredibly hard worker and he will be working for each of you. Together we will make America great again."
In a rare show of humility, Trump congratulated his opponents Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. When the crowd began booing, Trump put his hand up.
"There's nothing easy about running for president," he said. "It's tough, it's mean, it's nasty, it's vicious, it's beautiful."
8:45pm ET: Jeb Bush Drops Out
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ended his campaign on Saturday night after a disappointing finish in South Carolina. Bush is currently slated to come in fourth place with just 8 percent of the vote.
Although Bush was initially considered the frontrunner in 2016, his campaign has struggled to find traction throughout this election season. He failed to crack the top three in any state that has voted so far, despite high name recognition and having two former presidents as a father and older brother.
"The people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken and I really respect their decision. So tonight, I am suspending my campaign," said a visibly tearful Bush from his campaign's headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina. "I congratulate my competitors who remain on the island and have fought hard in this race," he added.
Supporters of Sen. Marco Rubio, who is currently tied for second as votes continue to roll in, cheered loudly as the former governor of Florida announced he was suspending his campaign. Bush's announcement opens up the field for second place; Rubio is competing with Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to serve as the party's main alternative to Trump.
His wife Columba teared up on stage as he spoke, flanked by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and his family. "Tonight I am going to sleep next to my best friend and the love of my life," Bush said.
"With strong conservative leadership, Republicans can win back the White House. ... Thank you for the opportunity to run for the greatest office in the world," Bush said. - Sarah Mimms and Olivia Becker
8:30pm ET: 'I'm Disappointed in South Carolina Tonight'
The Trump headquarters might be celebrating tonight, but here at the Ted Cruz primary party in Columbia, at least one volunteer was decidedly distraught at Trump's win.
"People seem to have left their moorings when it comes to Trump," said Michelle Sarbough, a South Carolina Cruz voter who burst into tears when asked how she felt about Trump's victory. "How can you say you are a [Christian] and then vote for someone who lives so immorally?"
"I've cried over this, I've prayed over this," Sarbough added. "I don't understand how you can vote for someone who has been divorced, been to a same-sex wedding, lives the way he does."
Sarbough is a conservative Christian who said she voted for Cruz primarily because of his evangelical faith. Evangelical voters make up Cruz's base and carried him to victory in Iowa, where they made up about 65 percent of the vote. According to exit polls from South Carolina tonight nearly 75 percent of Republican voters were evangelical Christians, although many of them went to Trump.- Olivia Becker
7:45pm ET: The Donald Takes The Palmetto State
Several national news outlets have declared Donald Trump the winner of the South Carolina primary, even though less than 1 percent of precincts are reporting so far. The Associated Press projected that Trump is the winner here, with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio locked in a dead heat for second place. This is Trump's second win after taking the New Hampshire primary and coming in second to Cruz in Iowa. - Olivia Becker
7:30pm ET: Waiting at the Ted Cruz Primary Watch Party
Official results aren't out yet for the South Carolina Republican primary, and Ted Cruz supporters are waiting for the numbers to come out at the senator's watch party.
— Olivia Becker (@obecker928) February 21, 2016
7pm ET: Hillary Addresses Supporters
Hillary Clinton thanked supporters in Nevada on Saturday evening for delivering her a key victory in the Democratic caucuses.
Clinton went beyond the typical campaign victory speech tonight, delving into much of her policy platform after thanking supporters for showing up in the Silver State. And although she has run on President Obama's legacy, she acknowledged: "We look at our country and see so much that isn't working the way it should."
Notably, Clinton's speech included several appeals to young voters who, polling shows, are increasingly turning to her rival Bernie Sanders in the Democratic contest.
"I want to say this to all the young people out there: I know what you're up against," she said. "If you left college with a ton of loans, it's not enough just to make college more affordable. You need help right now with the debt you already have. That's why I have a plan to cut your interest rates and cap payments so that you never have to pay more than you can afford."
Clinton also spoke about young children she has met on the campaign trail, including the "brave young girl" who approached her at an event in Nevada saying she was scared that her parents would be deported. That scene is now featured in a Clinton campaign ad.
The former secretary of state also went after her opponent's campaign, repeating lines from the campaign trail and previous debates about his policies not being realistic. "Americans are right to be angry, but we're also hungry for real solutions," she said.
One of Clinton's hardest-hitting lines of the night was not aimed at Sanders, but at Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Clinton spoke of her visit to Flint, Michigan, just a few weeks ago where, she said, "children were poisoned by toxic water just because their governor wanted to save a little money."
Clinton also referenced controversial pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli in her speech, noting: "We see grandparents that are forced to choose between paying rent and buying medicine because a prescription drug company has increased prices 5,000 percent over night."
Clinton told supporters in an email that she will head to Texas tonight before returning to South Carolina, which will hold the fourth Democratic contest next Saturday. The Texas trip this weekend is telling for Clinton, who is keeping an eye on the Super Tuesday contests that will take place on March 1. Her campaign is counting on those contests, which will take place in 11 states including several in the South, to help her begin to build a delegate firewall against the Sanders campaign.
If the race remains close in Nevada as the caucuses continue to submit their results to the state, neither Clinton nor Sanders will have a strong delegate lead leaving this state. South Carolina, where Clinton holds a strong lead in polling, has 59 up for grabs, but those 800-plus delegates available on Super Tuesday could make a huge difference for either campaign. - Sarah Mimms
6:45pm ET: Exit Polls Begin to Trickle Out of South Carolina
The voting booths don't close for another half hour here, but preliminary exit polls are yielding some interesting results that strongly favor Donald Trump. Early surveys show that nearly 75 percent of Republican voters favor an all-out ban on Muslims from coming into the US. That gives a strong indication that Trump will win, considering the idea of a Muslim ban was his to begin with. In New Hampshire, 65 percent of Republican voters favored such a ban.
But 41 percent of Republican voters also said that Trump ran the most unfair campaign. Ted Cruz, who was responsible for the majority of the so-called "dirty tricks" reported in the past week, was in second place with 33 percent. Finally, Trump also got the highest vote of confidence from voters — 43 percent — who said he was best equipped to handle the economy, compared to compared to 21 percent who said the same thing about Cruz. - Olivia Becker
6:15pm ET: The Vegas Card Draw That Decided It For Clinton
In some Nevada precincts, the results ended in a tie between Clinton and Sanders. In Iowa, the ties were broken by a controversial coin toss. As we noted earlier, the state Democratic party in Nevada said it would break the ties by drawing from a deck of cards, since that's how they decide things in the gambling capital of the world.
Here's how it works: a representative from each campaign draws a single card from the deck, and the high card determines a winner, with aces high. If the same card is drawn, the tie is broken by suit in descending order: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs.
Chris Lawhead was a precinct captain for Bernie Sanders in precinct 307, where one of the card draws took place to hand Clinton her win. He posted the video of the draw on Twitter:
— Chris Lawhead (@pyrometheous) February 20, 2016
6pm ET: Sanders Concedes Defeat, Congratulates Clinton
Bernie Sanders has issued a statement conceding defeat to Hillary Clinton in the Nevada caucuses and congratulating his rival on her win. Sanders noted that five weeks ago he trailed Clinton by 25 points, a lead that narrowed to a virtual dead heat today, and that he still stands to win a sizable share of the state's delegates. He also said he was "proud" of the campaign, which he said has "the wind at our back as we head toward Super Tuesday."
From the Sanders campaign:
Clinton also took to Twitter to thank her campaign and supporters:
5:20pm ET: The Associated Press Calls Nevada for Clinton
The AP just said Hillary Clinton is going to win the Nevada caucuses. The news organization made the call at 5:15pm ET.
Clinton also took to Twitter to declare victory:
To everyone who turned out in every corner of Nevada with determination and heart: This is your win. Thank you. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton)February 20, 2016
According to the latest results, with 25 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton leads Sanders 52 percent to 48 percent.
5pm ET: Here's Where the Candidates Stand in Nevada
With 20 percent of precincts reporting, Hillary Clinton has the narrowest of leads over Bernie Sanders, 51 percent to 49 percent.
4:45pm ET: College Campus or Rubio Campaign Headquarters?
In Columbia, just a couple of blocks down the street from Cruz HQ, is Marco Rubio's campaign office, which is about five times the size and twice as loud. There were about 50 volunteers at the office, almost all of whom were college students busy making phone calls, handing out lawn signs and eating stale pizza. VICE News arrived just after Rubio himself stopped by, and the volunteers were still buzzing with excitement.
Taylor Klauza and Grace Swindler, both students at University of South Carolina and volunteers at the Rubio campaign headquarters, explained that there was a competition going on between the interns for who could make the most calls. The winner would be awarded a football signed by Rubio that was kept in the back of the office.
"I'm very competitive and I don't even care it's a football, I just want to win it," said Swindler.
"Yeah, I don't care if it's a [signed] napkin," added Klauza.
The only thing that seemed to temporarily dampen their spirits was a mention of the recent deluge of "dirty tricks" from the Cruz campaign. They were both troubled by the recent reports that the Cruz campaign was making robocalls to voters spreading false allegations about Rubio. Their discomfort, Klauza said, was at least partially due to the fact that they were both in sororities, where "being classy is just sort of programmed into our minds."
"I'm still young and so when you look up to politicians and see them doing that stuff it's just disappointing," she added. - Olivia Becker
4:20pm ET: Clinton Wins Caucus at Caesars Palace — But It's Still a Dead Heat Statewide
Both groups — both Clinton and Sanders — reached viability at Caesars today, and so the proceedings quickly shifted to a final alignment headcount. As the precinct chair announced that 190 people turned out for Clinton compared with 81 for Sanders, a loud cheer erupted in the room. The precinct chair did some quick delegate mathematics and determined that Clinton got 28 delegates while Sanders got 12, a result that was followed by more cheers.
Across the state, support for the candidates has not been as clearly defined as the caucus results from Caesars Palace. Clinton currently has 49 percent of votes, while Sanders has 50 percent, with 14 percent of precincts reporting. - Liz Fields
4pm ET: Get Out the Vote Time at Cruz HQ
The Cruz campaign offices in Columbia are located in a small storefront around the corner from the Jeb Bush offices. When I arrived midday on Saturday, about 15-20 volunteers were crammed in the space making calls.
"We've got a very enthusiastic base of support here," said a man named David who was taking a brief break from the phones to corral staffers, volunteers, and the occasional nosy reporter around the office. In the past few days, David said, the campaign has been making an average of over 50,000 calls a day.
Most of the people at the office were college-aged. But the two most energetic volunteers there were 74-year-old Cleta Dunaway and Cyndi Nelson, who is 69. They have been volunteering for Cruz since January. When I stopped by, they were setting out a lunch of enchilada chili for the office.
Nelson said she'd been on the phone all day and had spoken to many undecided voters. "We're okay with that because we can call 'em and tell 'em just exactly who is the best candidate is!"
David explained that the plan today is to call registered Republicans, mostly those who have already been identified as Cruz supporters, and remind them to get out to vote. But sometimes that goes awry.
"One of the first days I worked," Dunaway said, "I called a lady and she said 'I'm a Democrat.' I said, 'Oh I'm so sorry!'" - Olivia Becker
3:50pm ET: Counting Heads By Hand in Las Vegas
As the caucus at Caesars Palace kicked off shortly after midday Saturday, the precinct chair explained the rules to caucus-goers before starting a head count. The process is a very imprecise measure of attendees: One guy stands on a chair and does a head count by pointing at attendees and counting out loud.
The first count found 278 eligible attendees at the hall. After that number was contested, the chair announced a second count, which came back the same. It has been determined that each presidential preference group, i.e. a group of people caucusing for a specific candidate, must have at least 42 people in it to reach viability. - Liz Fields
3:30pm ET: What to Watch for in the South Carolina Primary Today
South Carolina looks like it will be another easy victory for the unstoppable force that is Donald Trump, who maintains a significant lead in the polls ahead of everyone else. Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio are locked neck-and-neck right behind him with Jeb Bush in fourth place, inching slightly ahead of Ohio Governor John Kasich. Ben Carson, ever the optimist, continues to campaign despite being dead last.
South Carolina has 50 delegates at stake. Whichever candidate comes in first place in the primary here wins 29 delegates and the other 21 get divvied up proportionally between the remaining candidates.
Momentum is the key factor at this stage of the race. If Trump easily wins South Carolina today, it becomes pretty hard for him not to win Nevada on Tuesday and then many primary states after that. Trump just needs a plurality in each of South Carolina's seven congressional districts in order to come in first, which judging by the current polls, shouldn't be difficult for him to do.
The candidate with perhaps the most at stake today is Rubio, who is battling Cruz for second place. After coming in a disappointing fifth place in New Hampshire, Rubio needs a strong finish in South Carolina in order to keep up any of the remaining momentum that his campaign started with. This week, Rubio nabbed some of the biggest endorsements in the state, including from Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott, and Representative Trey Gowdy. If that does not help him today, his campaign will be in trouble.
The least fun party tonight will probably be at Jeb Bush's campaign headquarters. The former Florida governor continues to drag in fourth place, despite having pulled his brother George W. Bush — who is a beloved figure in South Carolina — off the bench to campaign with him this week. But even if Bush does as badly here as he is expected to, he's probably not going anywhere anytime soon. His campaign has enough money and infrastructure set up to soldier on to the next primary states, or at least until Super Tuesday on March 1. -_Olivia Becker _
3:15pm ET: Clinton Supporters Out in Force at Caesars Palace
The caucus hall at Caesars Palace is starting to fill up, and there are a lot of Clinton supporters clad in blue shirts chanting "Hillary, Hillary, Hillary."
A CNN/ORC survey of Nevada Democrats released on Wednesday found that the race is essentially tied, with Clinton holding 48 percent support to Sanders's 47 percent. Polling in the state is notoriously unreliable, however, and Clinton recently held a 37-point lead there. - Liz Fields
3:00pm ET: Life Goes On For Gamblers and Tourists on the Las Vegas Strip
While caucuses are taking place across Las Vegas today, it's just an ordinary day at the gaming tables for tourists and gamblers.
There are some 180,000 gaming employees in Nevada, and a survey conducted by the American Gaming Association in December found that the state's casino workers are particularly engaged in this election. According to the survey, 73 percent of the workers said they are closely watching what candidates are saying, while 93 percent of gaming employees who are registered to vote said they would likely vote in a general election. - Liz Fields
2:45pm ET: Candidates Try to Woo Las Vegas Casino Workers to Caucus
Supporters for Sanders and Clinton are stationed everywhere outside and inside Caesars Palace, where caucusing will begin shortly. Richard Santana and Rosa Beltran came with an entourage of 40 Clinton supporters from California to try and convince hotel workers to go and caucus at lunchtime.
"Not every worker has an opportunity to vote," Santana said. "This is very unique because when you caucus you have to stay there for a long amount of time. This is the only caucus where there is only a short window for them to be in the room to pick a candidate."
The caucus will last anywhere between half an hour to an hour depending on how many people show up.
In the upper convention center area, where the caucuses are about to take place, Miriam Madamba, a nurse who also travelled with 200 colleagues from California on Wednesday, is rallying workers to caucus for Sanders. The nurses are stationed in the six at-large caucus precincts located on the Las Vegas strip.
Casino employees make up about 15 percent of the Nevada electorate, one of the largest voting blocs in the state. - Liz Fields
2:05pm ET: South Carolina Polls Open Amid Deluge of "Dirty Tricks"
It's primary day in South Carolina for the Republicans, and the bare-knuckle fighting between the candidates is only getting nastier.
At about noon today, Senator Marco Rubio's campaign sent an email demanding that Ted Cruz repudiate reports of a new wave of false robocalls to voters. In the email, Rubio's spokesperson said Rubio ended a rally early last night when a man in the crowd passed out. Some people in the crowd who were suspected of being affiliated with Cruz began writing scripts for robocalls to tell voters that Rubio was dropping out of the race.
The Rubio campaign demanded that Cruz address the calls, which mirror a similar tactic that the Cruz campaign used against Ben Carson in Iowa.
"Because of his track record in spreading such false rumors as he did in Iowa, Senator Cruz should immediately repudiate these calls," Rubio's advisor Joe Pounder said in the email.
"In the past 24 hours, Senator Cruz and his allies have flooded South Carolina with false and outrageous lies," the email continued. "Having realized he has run out of positions to flip-flop on, Senator Cruz has settled on a strategy to steal elections through rumors and lies."
In a statement to VICE News, the Cruz campaign called the Rubio camp's allegations "completely false."
This is only the latest battle in the increasingly dirty war that the Republicans — particularly Cruz — have been waging this entire week in South Carolina.
On Thursday, the Cruz campaign created a website to exclusively highlight Rubio's dealmaking with President Barack Obama. It featured a photoshopped image that purportedly showed Rubio shaking hands with the president over an immigration deal.
Also on Thursday, a pro-Cruz super PAC began robocalling 180,000 households with a recorded message criticizing Donald Trump's support for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol.
Rick Shaftan, a spokesman for Courageous Conservatives, the group responsible for the robocall and an accompanying radio advertisement, told VICE News the purpose of the call is to get Trump supporters to move over to support Cruz instead. - Olivia Becker
Watch the VICE News documentary America's Election 2016: Trump Carolina:
2pm ET: **Cards Not Coins Could Break a Tie in Nevada Caucuses **
Residents of the Silver State have begun lining up outside around 250 caucus locations, including schools, churches, public libraries, and even casinos, to declare their preference for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton — the two remaining Democratic candidates. VICE News will be reporting from Caesars Hotel, one of six at-large precinct caucusing halls on the Las Vegas strip set up specifically for shift workers — hotel staff, croupiers, and restaurant servers — so they don't have to go to their home precincts to vote.
In Iowa, a coin toss was the deciding factor to award caucus delegates at a half-dozen precincts where results were too close to call. In gambling-haven Nevada, a similar process is used to break a tie, except that groups use a deck of cards instead of the coin toss. Each campaign representative draws a single card from the deck, and the high card determines a winner, while aces are high. If the same card is drawn, the tie is broken by suit in descending order: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs.
Based on Saturday's precinct-level caucus results, 23 pledged district-level delegates will be chosen to represent candidates at the Democratic National Convention. Nevada will ultimately send 43 delegates and three alternates to the convention later this year, including unpledged delegates otherwise known as superdelegates, and pledged party leaders and elected officials.
Here's a breakdown of the types of delegates: