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Hillary Clinton edges closer to Democratic nomination with South Carolina primary win

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event at the Old City Council Chambers in City Hall, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton moved one step closer to the party’s nomination Saturday with a win in the South Carolina primary.

“Tomorrow this campaign goes national,” Clinton said after the win. “We are not taking anything, and we are not taking anyone, for granted.”

South Carolina was a big test for both Clinton and her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders. The state was the party’s first foray of 2016 into the South and a test of each candidate’s support among black voters.

Prior to Saturday’s vote, Clinton received the endorsement of Jim Clyburn, South Carolina’s top Democrat and one poll said she had a nearly 20-point lead over Sanders.

Clyburn said “my heart has always been with Hillary Clinton” when he endorsed the former secretary of state.

Clyburn has never endorsed a candidate before, saying the Democratic National Committee asked him to stay neutral since South Carolina started its primary in 2004 so the races would be competitive for all candidates.

Fresh off a win over Sanders in Nevada, Clinton claimed the final victory of February as both candidates prepared for a March that could lock the party’s nominee. One Arizona insider believes Nevada all but wrapped up the race in Clinton’s favor.

More than half the 2,383 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination will be determined in the 28 states that hold primaries and caucuses in March. Clinton and Sanders should have enough money to stay in the race for weeks afterward, but the delegate tally at the end of the month could make the results inevitable.

Following the loss, Sanders released a statement congratulating Clinton on the win.

“Let me be clear on one thing tonight. This campaign is just beginning,” Sanders said in the statement.

Sanders has yet to prove he can consistently expand his base of support beyond white liberals and young voters. His campaign cited progress with Latinos in Nevada, but his advisers are clear-eyed about the challenges on Super Tuesday. They are mapping out plans to stay close to Clinton in the delegate count until the race turns to friendlier territory later in March.

“Because we can do the long game, once we get past March 1, the calendar changes dramatically,” said Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager. “It’s frontloaded for her, but we have the ability to stay in the long game.”

For Sanders, strong showings in March are more important because of Clinton’s lead with superdelegates — the party leaders who can support any candidates regardless of how their states vote.

Clinton has captured the support of 451 superdelegates compared with Sanders’ 19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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