DES MOINES, Iowa – Game on.
Eight years after being upstaged in Iowa by Barack Obama, Monday night brought more disappointing results for Hillary Clinton, who leaves the state with a razor-thin lead over Democratic rival Bernie Sanders after the first nominating contest of 2016.
“I am a progressive who gets things done for people,” Clinton declared to supporters in Des Moines, saying she was “excited about really getting into the debate with Sen. Sanders about the best way forward to fight for us and America.”
The former secretary of state, whose once formidable lead over Sanders evaporated over months of campaigning, promised to “finish the job of universal health care coverage for every man, woman and child.”
And after pledging to sustain the Democratic vision in the face of Republican opposition, she concluded, “I stand here tonight, breathing a big sigh of relief . Thank you, Iowa. … I will keep doing what I have done my entire life.”
With 95% of precincts reporting, Clinton and Sanders both finished with nearly 50% of the vote. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who couldn’t crack 1%, announced earlier in the night that he was suspending his campaign.
Bernie Sanders earned a hard-fought draw in the Iowa caucuses Monday night, dealing Hillary Clinton a setback as the race turns to New Hampshire even if she is ultimately declared the victor.
“Given the enormous crisis facing our country,” Sanders said in a jab at the former secretary of state, “it is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics.”
The Vermont senator described the murky final score as a “virtual tie,” but his supporters treated it like a victory, interrupting his remarks to chant, “Feel the Bern!’
“As I think about what happened tonight, I think the people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment and, by the way, to the media establishment,” he continued, thanking Iowa for starting a “political revolution.”
“So you guys ready for a radical idea?” Sanders asked with a smile. “So is America. We are going to create an economy that works for working families, not just the billionaire class.”