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Victorious Clinton slowly pivoting toward Republicans?

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Washington: Buoyed by her recent triumphs, Hillary Clinton is opening a dual-track strategy in her bid for the White House, slowly pivoting toward Republicans even as she works to expand her lead across more than a dozen states voting this week in ‘Super Tuesday’ primaries, a media report said today.

“Tomorrow, this campaign goes national,” Clinton said today soon after she trounced Senator Bernie Sanders in South Carolina Democratic primary, reveling in her historic victory in a speech to supporters, signaling a new phase of the nominating contest.

“The aircraft carrier is definitely shifting to the general election this week,” a top Democrat close to the 68- year-old former secretary of state told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid getting ahead of the campaign and alienating Democrats who have yet to vote.

The wide margin of her South Carolina victory over Senator Bernie Sanders accelerates her transition to the general election. Clinton has mentioned Sanders less and less in recent days and in her victory speech targeted Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner.

Advisers to Clinton increasingly believe Trump is more likely than not to be the Republican nominee, which injects a considerable dose of uncertainty into any fall contest. A Clinton-Trump match-up, should that ultimately develop, could mean a new general election battleground, with states like New Jersey, Michigan and even Pennsylvania potentially competitive for Republicans.

Clinton’s campaign, feeling more confident than it did after a narrow win in Iowa and a double-digit defeat in New Hampshire, has started to evaluate how it would run against the now smaller Republican field and what each candidate would mean for Clinton, the report said.

Senator Marco Rubio, aides to Clinton believe, is also a worrisome foe. But he is seen as a more traditional candidate that would allow the campaign to focus on many of the same swing states then-Senator Barack Obama had to win in 2008, namely Florida, Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

Looking ahead, Clinton’s aides know they are not going to knock Sanders out on March 1, but they hope by the end of the night on Tuesday — where 865 delegates are at stake — their campaign will have at least a 100 earned delegate lead over the Vermont senator.

Clinton left for Tennessee shortly after claiming victory in South Carolina and in the coming days she will visit Arkansas, Virginia and Massachusetts, among other states, in an effort to solidify her support.

“We are going to compete for every vote in every state,” Clinton said last night. “We are not taking anything and we aren’t taking anything for granted.”

Clinton’s top aides are confident they will run sizable delegate totals in the South, winning states like Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

And though they concede that Sanders will score big in Vermont — his home state — they think they can win in Oklahoma and Minnesota.

Their tightest battles, aides said, will be in Massachusetts and Colorado.

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