The nomination contest to the 2016 US Presidential elections has kick-started with the Iowa caucus. Final counting has revealed that Texas Senator Ted Cruz handed a shocking defeat to billionaire Donald Trump in the Republican camp and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton only managed a narrow win over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic camp.
45-year-old Cruz bagged almost 28 per cent of the total votes as against Trump’s 24 per cent. Marco Rubio was a close third with 23 per cent. The crowded Republican presidential race now appears to be a three-way contest as Marco Rubio did unexpectedly well.
On the Democratic side, Clinton, who is aiming to become US’ first woman president got almost 50 per cent votes defeating Sanders by a whisker.
All eyes were on real estate tycoon Trump who had been dominating the Republican Presidential nomination race by his controversial remarks.
“We finished second. I am just honoured. I want to congratulate Ted (Cruz),” said Trump added that he didn’t expect to do this well when he started his campaign in June last year.
Meanwhile, Cruz, in his Iowa victory speech, said, “Tonight is the victory for courageous conservative. Iowa has send notice that the next Republican nominee or the president would not be chosen by the media, would not be chosen by the lobbyist, or by the Washingtonians…would be chosen by the American people.”
In her speech, Clinton reiterated her ambition to make US the clean energy super power of the world, and protect the rights of women and immigrants and stand up to the strong gun lobby. She also lashed out at the divisive policies of the Republican candidates.
“I am a progressive to get things done for the people…Status quo is not good enough,” said Clinton claiming victory.
Sanders, who lost by a narrow margin said, “It’s a virtual tie. We do not represent the interest of the billionaire class and corporate America.” He also added that his campaign will do well in the other states.
Meanwhile, the third Democratic party presidential aspirant Martin O’Malley announced to suspend his campaign.
From Iowa, the race to the White House now moves to New Hampshire where the primaries are scheduled for February 9 and then to South Carolina. And polls say that Trump is leading the Republican camp by a huge margin in both these states.
Over the coming months, all US states and territories will vote for the party nominees. Each states’ delegates will be tallied and a nominee will become apparent towards the middle of the year.
In November, the US will pick the next president who will assume office in January 2017.
(With inputs from agencies)