Donald Trump on Sunday expressed measured optimism about winning the nomination, compared to his bravado after his overnight South Carolina victory, saying he could “always be stopped.”
The front-running Trump won 33 percent of the vote in the Republican South Carolina primary, roughly 11 percent ahead of challengers Sens. Marco Rubio, of Florida, and Ted Cruz, of Texas.
The win is Trump’s second in the first three, early-state contests and now focuses the debate on whether any the four other remaining candidates can stop him, in part by taking the support for Jeb Bush, who suspended his campaign after a disappointing fourth-place finish on Saturday in South Carolina.
“I guess you can always be stopped,” Trump told “Fox News Sunday.” “I have very good competition. … They are very talented people.”
In his South Carolina victory speech, Trump said, “Let’s put this thing away.”
To be sure, Trump appears to be in a good position. Every Republican presidential candidate who has won New Hampshire and South Carolina has taken the party nomination. And he appears to have strong support in the Deep South as the primary season swings into the region next month.
Trump notably held a rally this summer in Mobile, Ala. that attracted an estimated 30,000 people.
The eventual winner will face either Democrat Bernie Sanders or front-runner Hillary Clinton, who on Saturday night won her party’s Nevada caucus over Sanders 53-to-47 percent.
She defeated Sanders in Iowa, but lost to him in New Hampshire.
Rubio told “Fox News Sunday” that he has a “real sense of optimism” after South Carolina. However, Rubio said he is not trying to get other candidates, specifically Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who finished fifth in South Carolina, to drop out, which could give Rubio even more of the so-called establishment vote now that Bush is out.
“The sooner we coalesce, the better we can do as a party,” he said. “It’s going to happen one way or another.”
Cruz told ABC’s “This Week” that Trump is a “formidable candidate” but polls show a majority of voters don’t think he can beat Clinton.
“You cannot come from him at the left,” Cruz said of his primary strategy. “You have to have a true conservative” to win
Rubio and Cruz remain confident they can eventually get more votes as the GOP field continues to narrow, then overtake Trump.
Clinton’s Nevada win came just a week-and-a-half after she lost to Sanders by double-digits in New Hampshire.
“To everyone who turned out in every corner of Nevada with determination and heart: This is your win. Thank you,” Clinton tweeted after the race was called.