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It’s time to think about reducing the deficit, says Pete Buttigieg. Wait, what?

Unexpected. So much so that we’re left to wonder what game he’s playing at here, particularly in light of the timing. Trump’s new budget proposes cuts to Medicare and Social Security, a fact that Democrats will feast on politically all this year. That being so, the last thing they’d want in a nominee, one would think, is a guy who’s also calling for belt-tightening.

No matter how right he might be on the merits.

Out: “This Buttigieg character is grossly underqualified for the position he’s seeking.” In: “This Buttigieg character might be just the technocratic breath of fresh air we need in Washington.”

Asked at a town hall here how important the deficit is to him, Buttigieg said it’s “important” and vowed to focus on limiting the debt even though it’s “not fashionable in progressive circles.”

“I think the time has come for my party to get a lot more comfortable owning this issue, because I see what’s happening under this president — a $1 trillion deficit — and his allies in Congress do not care. So we have to do something about it,” Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said in a packed middle school gym, drawing cheers…

“It’s not fashionable in progressive circles to talk too much about the debt, largely because of the irritation to the way it’s been used as an excuse against investment. But if we’re spending more and more on debt service now, it makes it harder to invest in infrastructure and health and safety net that we need right now,” he said. “And also this expansion, which I think of as, by the way, just the 13th inning of the Obama economic expansion. It isn’t going to go on forever.”

I’ve come to accept some weird realignments on issues in the Trump era, like Democrats becoming stronger advocates of free trade and Republicans becoming stronger advocates of rapprochement with Russia. But I’m fully unprepared, intellectually and emotionally, for Dems becoming the party of deficit hawkery.

No matter how grossly unjust it would be for the GOP to lay claim to that title.

My instinct is that Buttigieg is just following his political rebranding here to its obvious conclusion. He began the race as a basically dogmatic progressive (and remains one deep down, no doubt) but wised up after Elizabeth Warren started rising in the polls and realized that there wouldn’t be room in the left lane of the primary with her and Bernie both in contention. So he shifted right, believing — shrewdly — that Biden might ripe for a calamitous fall as the campaign wore on and expecting that Klobuchar wouldn’t get traction in polling. Biden is fading but still alive in the early states right now while Klobuchar has come on in the past few days after her winning debate performance on Friday night, which means there’s momentarily a three-way fight to become the champion of centrist Democrats — with Mike Bloomberg set to make it a four-way fight in a few weeks. Mayor Pete’s just showing how far he’s willing to go to out-centrist the rest with his deficit comments.

And of course, by insisting on fiscal responsibility, he’s underlining the blowout deficits that Bernie Sanders’s agenda would saddle America with.

But wait. That can’t be his strategy. Yeah, fine, Buttigieg has made a bold gesture here to show how moderate he is, but it’s possible to be too moderate for the electorate’s tastes. Embracing deficit reduction in a Democratic primary to set up a contrast with Bernie’s domestic policy is a bit like embracing a nuclear strike on Iran to set up a contrast with Bernie’s foreign policy. Even if Pete frames the issue in more Democrat-friendly terms, by emphasizing tax hikes to close the gap between revenue and expenditures instead of spending cuts, he’s still aligning himself with an idea famously championed — if not implemented — by right-wingers. Even if he wins the nomination, he’ll need progressives to turn out next fall. Will they after this?

I think his deficit spiel may be a short-term strategy that he’ll abandon in due course, as circumstances require. I’m thinking back to this CNN story from two weeks ago, shortly before Iowa went to vote:

Pete Buttigieg will close out his campaign in Iowa focusing on his ability to win over disaffected Republicans who backed President Donald Trump in 2016, his campaign tells CNN, hoping that Democrats who are hellbent on defeating Trump in November will be wooed by a candidate who can eat into the President’s support…

Conversations with dozens of voters reflect that this strategy could be successful for the former mayor. Voters who backed Trump in 2016 but are considering backing Buttigieg in 2020 tell CNN that they were drawn to the fact he is a veteran, openly talks about his faith and appears to have an integrity they believe is lacking in the White House.

He did okay with that approach on caucus night. And he has a reason to double down on it in New Hampshire since NH allows independents to vote in either party’s primary on Election Day. Fully 42 percent of the state’s electorate is unaffiliated with either party and there’s no competition on the Republican side this year to draw right-leaning indies away into the GOP primary. Buttigieg is hoping/expecting that conservative independents will turn out to vote in the Democratic primary tomorrow night and decide to opt for the most centrist choice on the menu in the name of defeating socialism. Chattering about deficit reduction is bait to those people.

Exit question: Could Buttigieg’s deficit talking points be his way of claiming Obama’s legacy, something he’s been eager to do throughout the primary as a young midwestern pol who’s long on cerebral charisma and short on actual legislative achievements? O had mammoth deficits in the thick of the Great Recession but the tea-party wave in Congress and the slow economic recovery cut those deficits in half by his second term. “I’m a fiscal conservative like Barack,” Buttigieg might say, inducing aneurysms in conservatives everywhere. Or, better yet, “I’m more of a fiscal conservative than Donald Trump.” Which may well be true.

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Trump looks to ‘shake up the Dems’ with New Hampshire rally

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Eager to put on a show of force in a general election battleground state, President Donald…

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Eager to put on a show of force in a general election battleground state, President Donald Trump aimed to rattle Democrats on Monday with a rally in New Hampshire on the eve of the state’s first-in-the-nation primaries.

Trump, on a high after his acquittal last week on impeachment charges, couldn’t resist taking a dig at the Democrats for lingering uncertainty over the outcome of the party’s kickoff caucuses last week in Iowa, where the results are still under dispute.

“Will be in Manchester, New Hampshire, tonight for a big Rally. Want to shake up the Dems a little bit – they have a really boring deal going on,” Trump tweeted. “Still waiting for the Iowa results, votes were fried. Big crowds in Manchester!”

It’s a tried-and-tested tactic for Trump: Scheduling counter-programming to divert attention from Democratic debates and other major moments, keeping him in the spotlight and building supporters’ enthusiasm in the months before Election Day.

And though it won’t be the same show of force as last week, when dozens of Trump’s surrogates, including officials from across all levels of government, flooded the state of Iowa, the Trump campaign made its presence known in New Hampshire before the state’s Democratic primaries.

Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, got to the state ahead of the president to do some campaigning.

Also being deployed by the president’s re-election campaign were Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and Trump’s former campaign manager, New Hampshire resident Corey Lewandowski.

The marquee event was to be Trump’s rally, held in front of a massive crowd at a downtown arena. Images of bundled-up supporters camped outside the SNHU Arena in Manchester as early as Sunday broke through the news coverage of the Democratic primary. As Air Force One touched down in New Hampshire, a stream of TrumpWorld luminaries — including Vice President Mike Pence and first son Donald Trump Jr. — preceded the president to the stage.

New Hampshire has always loomed large in Trump’s political lore as the first nominating contest he won during 2016’s heated Republican primaries. He was about to take the stage at a rally in Manchester that October when news broke that the FBI was re-opening its investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails, breathing new life into his then-struggling campaign. And it was the site of the penultimate rally of the 2016 contest — an extravagant send-off just hours before a post-midnight rally in Michigan.

Though Trump narrowly lost New Hampshire in the general election four years ago, his team believes it is one of the few states that could flip to red in November. Democrats in the state had a different view.

“It’s obvious that Trump and the RNC are desperate to put New Hampshire in play after losing the state by 3,000 votes in 2016. But we’ll make sure that Granite Staters know that he has broken his promises to his state and he will lose here again in November,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley told reporters.

The president relished the idea of dominating the stage in New Hampshire and stealing some of the media oxygen from the Democrats. Advisers hoped that Secret Service moves in downtown Manchester to secure the area for the president’s arrival would make it harder for Democratic candidates and their supporters to transverse the state’s largest city in the hours before the primary’s first votes are cast.

At least for now, similar counter-programming rallies have not been planned for the next two nominating states, Nevada and South Carolina. But the Manchester rally comes days after Trump was acquitted by the Senate after becoming just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. Before his departure, Trump was still stewing at Democrats as well as Sen. Mitt Romney, the lone Republican to vote to convict him.

At a White House meeting with more than 30 governors from around the country, he slammed Democrats for “wasting time” on impeachment and teasingly asked Utah Gov. Gary Herbert: “How’s Mitt Romney? You can keep him. We don’t want him.”

With his reelection effort heating up, Trump also suggested he’s trying to turn the page and notch a couple of legislative victories before November.

The president said he was hopeful that Democrats would work with him to pass an infrastructure bill as well legislation to lower prescription drug prices, despite the rancor and divisions.

__

Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani in Washington and Holly Ramer in Manchester contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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US election 2020: Five charts on the Democratic race to take on Trump

Voters have begun the process of choosing which Democratic candidate will go up against Donald Trump on 3 November. But who is leading the pack?

Joe Biden remains the frontrunner in national polls but lacklustre fundraising and a fourth place finish in the Iowa caucus suggest his star is fading.

Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, are on the up after finishing in a virtual tie in Iowa and topping polls in New Hampshire, the next state in the primary process.

We’ve taken an in-depth look at the polls, the fundraising numbers and a few other things that can help shed some light on the current state of play.

There were nearly 30 Democrats running just a few months ago, but the field has narrowed to just 11 candidates now – and only a handful of them have a real shot at winning.

No consensus amid Iowa chaos

Only twice since 1976 has the Democrat who won the Iowa caucuses not gone on to become the party’s presidential nominee, so the state usually offers a clue as to how the race is shaping up.

This time, however, just 0.1% separated the top two candidates – Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders and moderate millennial Pete Buttigieg (it’s pronounced boot-edge-edge, by the way).

The results in Iowa took several days to emerge, with party officials blaming the delay on a coding error in an app that was being used for the first time to report the votes.

Even now, there are questions over the validity of the results with The Associated Press, a news organisation that traditionally verifies election results, yet to declare a winner.

Biden ahead nationally – but for how long?

If you look at the national polls, there is a clear top tier of candidates: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Biden’s lead was pretty steady throughout 2019, hovering between 25-35% apart from a short jump to 40% after he officially announced his candidacy last April. Warren very briefly overtook him in October, but her numbers dropped after that and she soon fell back behind Sanders.

We don’t have much data to go on yet when it comes to assessing how the Iowa results have changed things, but it does appear as if Sanders is the one with the momentum at the moment.

His numbers were on an upward trajectory even before Iowa, suggesting that a very public disagreement between him and Warren about whether he did or didn’t say a woman could not win the presidency hasn’t hindered his chances.

One other notable thing is how quickly Michael Bloomberg has risen. The billionaire only joined the race in November, but he is well positioned to gain if Biden continues to lose support.

Turbulent few weeks ahead

If you look at the chart below, it shows the latest average for candidates in five states that vote in the next month – New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, California and Texas.

Of those five contests, Joe Biden leads in three and Bernie Sanders is ahead in two.

Elizabeth Warren’s best hope is in California, where she is currently second in the polls, but she’s a long way off the top in the other states at the moment.

Michael Bloomberg doesn’t feature in the next three states as he’s chosen to focus on Super Tuesday on 3 March, when more than a dozen states, including California and Texas, cast their votes – but even there, his current numbers are low.

Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, looks set to give Bernie Sanders a fight in New Hampshire after the bounce from his performance in Iowa. But unless he gets a surprise victory there and receives another bounce, it looks unlikely that he’ll have a shot in the other four states.

Of the others, only hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer is showing any sign of challenging the top tier candidates, sitting in second place in South Carolina and fourth in Nevada.

Sanders campaign in good shape

The amount a candidate raises is no firm sign of their eventual success – Jeb Bush, for example, led the Republican money race in 2016, but was still beaten by Donald Trump.

It is, however, a useful guide to how much enthusiasm there is for their candidacy and in Bernie Sanders’ case, there is still an awful lot of energy behind him.

As the chart above shows, he raised the most money from individual donors last year, and his $34.4m haul in the fourth quarter was the highest quarterly total of any candidate. Joe Biden, by comparison, raised $23.2m.

Much of Sanders’ power comes from the network of supporters he built during his battle with Hillary Clinton in 2016. A detailed analysis by the New York Times showed that network stretched right across the US – whereas most candidates get the majority of their support from the areas they have represented.

The other thing to note is just how well Pete Buttigieg has done up to now. He raised $76m last year, $5m more than Elizabeth Warren and over $15m more than Joe Biden – although the former vice-president entered the race after the first quarter.

Can Bloomberg’s cash change the dynamic?

Michael Bloomberg is not accepting donations to his campaign – hence why he’s at the bottom on $0 in the chart above – but that isn’t affecting his spending power.

Along with Tom Steyer, the other billionaire in the race, he has spent huge sums of money on an advertising campaign that included a 60-second ad during the Super Bowl that reportedly cost around $10 million.

The bad news for Joe Biden is that both men are targeting his supporters and not those of Bernie Sanders.

There are signs the Bloomberg campaign is having some success, most notably his climb in the national polls mentioned above, but it’s still hard to imagine him winning enough delegates to become the Democratic nominee.

If, however, we get to July and there is still no clear winner, there would be a “contested” convention where “superdelegates” could break the deadlock. Many of these delegates are senior party officials past and present and they may look kindly on a centrist candidate like Bloomberg who has donated millions to the Democratic Party in the past.

The party convention is a long way off yet though.

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Biden slumps, Bloomberg surges nationally as Democratic race heats up: poll

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Support for former Vice President Joe Biden’s U.S. presidential bid has tumbled nationally following a lackluster finish in last week’s Iowa caucuses, while interest is surging among Democrats and independents for the upstart candidacy of billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg, according to a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll released on Monday.

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event in Gilford, New Hampshire U.S., February 10, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Feb. 6-10 poll found that 17% of registered Democrats and independents said they would vote for Biden, down five percentage points from a similar poll that ran last week before Iowa held its first-in-the-nation nominating contest.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders led other candidates in the poll with 20% support, up one point from last week, while 15% supported Bloomberg, an increase of six points.

Another 11% backed U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, 8% supported former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 5% said they would vote for New York businessman Andrew Yang and 3% supported U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.

The poll underscores what has been a steady decline in support for Biden, who until recently was considered the favorite to win the highly contested race for the party’s nomination.

Biden’s primary appeal to voters has been his claim to be the most electable of all of the candidates. Yet he finished in fourth place in Iowa, behind Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren. And the Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that Democrats and independents are now just as likely to believe that Sanders can win the White House in the Nov. 3 election as they are Biden.

When asked which candidate was “most likely to beat President Trump,” 21% picked Biden, which is down nine points from last week. Another 21% said Sanders had the best chances to win, and 15% said it was Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, who has not participated in the nationally televised debates and will not be on the ballot in many of the early statewide nominating contests, has instead banked his candidacy on his comparatively strong name recognition and millions of dollars of personal expenditures into campaign advertising.

The poll found that Bloomberg would beat Trump by four points among registered U.S. voters if the two were running against each other in November’s presidential election. In comparison, Sanders also would beat Trump by four points and Biden would beat Trump by two points.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 952 registered voters, including 556 who identified as Democrats or independents. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about five percentage points.

Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Alistair Bell

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Sanders and Buttigieg on top in New Hampshire, Bloomberg rising in national poll

WASHINGTON — With one day to go before the New Hampshire primary, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg sit at the top of the newest polls of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters. 

Sanders secures 29 percent in the newest results from CNN and the University of New Hampshire’s three-day tracking poll, with Buttigieg trailing at 22 percent, a margin within the poll’s plus-or-minus 5.1 percent margin of error.  

Then, there’s a pile-up significantly behind those two candidates, with former Vice President Joe Biden at 11 percent, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 10 percent, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 7 percent, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at 5 percent and businessman Andrew Yang at 4 percent. 

Then there’s the WBZ/Boston Globe/Suffolk University tracking poll, which has the same top two candidates with Sanders at 27 percent and Buttigieg at 19 percent, within the plus-or-minus 5.6 percent margin of error 

But that poll shows Klobuchar in third place with 14 percent, ahead of Biden and Warren’s 12 percent each. 

While part of the CNN poll was conducted before Friday night’s debate, all of the WBZ poll was conducted after that debate, which could help to explain some of the differences between the two. 

Both polls show that a significant portion of the electorate is open to changing their mind before Tuesday’s vote —  almost half of the CNN/UNH respondents say they’re only leaning toward a candidate or still trying to decide, while 38 percent of WBZ poll respondents say they’re open to changing their mind. 

Looking beyond New Hampshire, Quinnipiac University dropped another national poll that found Sanders holding firm and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg rising. 

Sanders leads with 25 percent, followed by Biden at 17, Bloomberg at 15, Warren at 14, Buttigieg at 10 and the rest of the pack very far behind. That sample has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points. 

Those results represent a modest increase for Sanders and a modest decrease for Biden when compared to Quinnipiac’s last national poll from two weeks ago. But Bloomberg’s share of the vote shot up significantly from 8 points in late January to 15 points now. 

And while the margin of error for smaller groups is larger, Biden’s numbers with black voters dropped 22 points between the two polls, while Bloomberg’s rose by 15 points. 

In head-to-head matchups against President Trump, Bloomberg performed the best, ahead by 9 points. Sanders led Trump by 8 points, Biden by 7 points, Klobuchar by 6 points, and Warren and Buttigieg by 4 points each.  

Sanders and Buttigieg campaigns request partial recanvass of some Iowa caucus precincts

DES MOINES, Iowa — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, are officially calling for a partial recanvassing of the results of last week’s Iowa caucuses, claiming they found discrepancies in the party’s official results that hurt their campaigns.  

The state party announced Sunday that Buttigieg had won 14 national convention delegates from what it said was a narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses. Sanders received 12 delegates; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren won eight delegates; former Vice President Joe Biden secured six delegates; and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar won one delegate. 

But while those results were based on the party’s revised results, the NBC News Decision Desk has not called the race for any candidate or issued its own delegate allocation after a series of delays and inconsistencies surfaced in the days following the caucuses

The Sanders campaign says it wants the Iowa Democratic Party to recanvass 25 precincts and three satellite caucuses, arguing that there are errors in the data that could flip a national delegate to Sanders. 

“Our volunteers and supporters worked too hard, and too many people participated for the first time to have the results depend on calculations that even the party admits are incorrect,” Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement.

“Once the recanvass and a subsequent recount are completed in these precincts, we feel confident we will be awarded the extra national delegate our volunteers and grassroots donors earned.” 

The Buttigieg campaign requested a recanvass in 66 precincts and the in-state satellite caucuses in what a campaign aide told NBC News was in direct response to Sanders’ request. 

In a letter sent to Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price, the Buttigieg campaign contends this recanvass would result in a net gain of 14 State Delegate Equivalents for Buttigieg. A campaign aide notes that the Sanders’ campaign recanvass request would at most result in a net gain of fewer than six SDEs.

New Hampshire leaders stay on the sidelines ahead of primary

WASHINGTON — Less than 24 hours before the New Hampshire primary, the only member of Congress from the state who is endorsing a presidential candidate is Democratic Rep. Ann Kuster.

Kuster, who has represented New Hampshire’s second district since 2013, announced her endorsement of former South Bend Mayor, Pete Buttigieg, on January 15.

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg visits The Works Cafe with Rep. Annie Kuster in Concord, N.H., on Jan. 17, 2020.Elizabeth Frantz / Reuters file

“With our country so consumed by division, @PeteButtigieg is the leader who can finally turn the page on the Trump presidency and bring our nation together,” Kuster tweeted that day. “He has the courage to break from the past to lead us to a better future — I’m excited to endorse him to be our next president.”

Buttigieg shortly after thanked Kuster for her backing, writing in a statement that amid a time of dysfunction in Washington, Kuster has united constituents and “spent her career delivering results for New Hampshire families.” 

The congresswoman co-chairs the campaign and has hit the trail with Buttigieg. 

No other national politicians from the state have yet to formally support a 2020 presidential candidacy for the first-in-the-nation primary. The Granite State’s lack of endorsements also stands in contrast with the number of Iowan endorsements issued ahead of last week’s caucuses.

Three out of four congressional districts in Iowa are represented by Democrats and all of them announced endorsements of 2020 Democrats prior to the February 3 caucus in the state.

Democratic Reps. Abby Finkaneur and Cindy Axne of IA-01 and IA-03 respectively endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in January. David Loebsack of the Hawkeye State’s second district endorsed Buttigieg the same month.

Sanders, Buttigieg raised more money online in N.H. than rest of Democratic field

WASHINGTON — Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg sit at the top of the polls in New Hampshire one day before the state’s primary. And new data shows they raised more money online from the state last year than the rest of the Democratic presidential field. 

Sanders raised the most New Hampshire online dollars of any candidate in 2019 through the Democratic online-fundraising platform ActBlue. He raised $727,410 from Granite Staters through the platform, which handles virtually all online donations for Democratic candidates, an NBC News analysis shows. 

Buttigieg finished 2019 in a clear second place for New Hampshire online donors, significantly behind Sanders but also well above his other competitors. He raised almost $510,370 through the platform. 

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren raised $344,600 through ActBlue from voters in her neighboring state, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden’s $253,380, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s $190,000 and businessman Andrew Yang’s 147,610.  

That order — Sanders at the top, followed by Buttigieg then Warren then Biden then Klobuchar then Yang — mirrors the ActBlue fundraising results from Iowa. It’s also almost exactly how the candidates finished in the state’s caucus last week, according to the state Democratic Party’s results, with Sanders and Buttigieg locked in a virtual tie, followed by Warren, then Biden and Klobuchar. 

However, Iowa’s results have been marred by concerns about accuracy and the NBC News Decision Desk has not called a winner or allocating any delegates as a result of the caucuses at this time. 

ActBlue is the primary online fundraising tool that candidates use to accept donations. Fundraising totals through ActBlue don’t include offline donations, like checks sent to campaigns directly.  

Klobuchar releases new ad ahead of New Hampshire primary

KEENE, N.H. — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is making her final pitch to New Hampshire voters the day before the first-in-the-nation primary with the release of a new closing ad airing on cable, digital and radio.

The ad, “Empathy,” includes excerpts of Klobuchar’s closing debate statement on the stage. The senator’s debate performance has widely been viewed as strong fueling additional interest in her candidacy and sparking significant fundraising totaling about $3 million. 

“There is a complete lack of empathy in this guy in the White House right now, and I will bring that to you,” Klobuchar says in the new ad. “If you have trouble stretching your paycheck to pay for that rent, I know you, and I will fight for you. If you have trouble deciding if you’re going to pay for your childcare or your long term care, I know you and I will fight for you. Please, New Hampshire, I would love your vote, and I would love the vote of America.”

It’s a message and sentiment Klobuchar often emulates on the campaign trail, especially in the final days while campaigning in the Granite State.

Recent polling has suggested Klobuchar is in or near third place in New Hampshire, a state where there are still many undecided voters and high independent and undeclared electorate counts. 

The Minnesota candidate has also received endorsements from the only statewide newspaper in New Hampshire, The Union Leader, and two other papers in the state, The Keene Sentinel,and Seacoast Media Group

Steyer to skip primary night in New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Billionaire Tom Steyer will be skipping New Hampshire primary night to campaign in the more diverse early states of Nevada and South Carolina, his campaign confirms to NBC News.

In lieu of spending election day in the Granite State, he will kick off a bus tour in Reno, NV.

“Like he said on the debate stage, Democrats have to build a national, diverse coalition in order to defeat Donald Trump in November,” his spokesman Jake Lewis said in a statement. “So Tom stopped in Nevada the day after the Iowa caucuses and will be traveling to South Carolina today then on to Reno on the 11th for his bus tour across Nevada because these states are critically important to his strategy to build that broad coalition Democrats need to beat Donald Trump.”

His South Carolina trip had been previously announced but the campaign had not made his plans for Tuesday public until today.

Steyer spent the last five days in New Hampshire, but has only held 32 public events across seven trips to the first-in-the-nation primary state.

Sanders on his medical records: I ‘released as much’ as ‘any other candidate’

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had a heart attack last year, said Sunday that his campaign has released “as much” medical information as other candidates.

Sanders argued on “Meet the Press” that his rigorous campaign schedule stands out among his fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls as proof of his good health, but that once you start releasing medical records, “it never ends.” 

“We have released as much documentation, I think, as any other candidate,” Sanders said. 

“You can start releasing medical records, it never ends. We have released a substantive part.” 

He added that his doctors have confirmed “that I am in good health. I am in good health.”

Sanders had previously told reporters last September that releasing medical records is “the right thing to do.” 

“The American people have the right to know whether the person they’re going to be voting for president is healthy, and we will certainly release our medical records before the primaries, certainly before the first votes are cast,” he said at the time.

The Vermont senator released three letters from doctors at the end of last year, which concluded he was “more than fit enough” to be president. The letters included some test results as well as more explanation of Sanders’ heart attack and his recovery.

Klobuchar campaign announces it’s raised $2 million after debate performance

DURHAM, N.H. — Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is capitalizing on a strong performance in Friday night’s Democratic debate. According to the campaign on Saturday, Klobuchar has raised $2 million since the debate ended. The campaign said that this is the best fundraising haul for the team after any of the debates. 

“With proven grassroots support, Amy continues to outperform expectations and punch above her weight,” Klobuchar’s campaign manager Justin Buoen said in a statement. “Following her debate performance, we’ve raised $2 million and have seen an outpouring of donations from all 50 states which will allow us to compete in New Hampshire and beyond.”

We apologize, this video has expired.

At an event in Durham, N.H. on Saturday, Klobuchar leaned into her debate performance telling rally-goers that it’s important to her to get to know the voters in each state. 

“I had an opportunity last night to address the people of New Hampshire. I think that I was the one that mentioned New Hampshire the most,” Klobuchar said. “Maybe that is because I realize there’s a primary coming up, and I also think it is part of being a good president and being a good elected official. That you represent the people that you see and you get to know the issues and what matters to them. That is what driven me so much in my work in public service.”

Klobuchar has received praise for her debate performances in the past, as well, but those performances haven’t always helped her in polls. In the latest poll out of the Granite State, Klobuchar registered at just 5 percent support. 

Biden hits Buttigieg on experience in new video

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign released an aggressive new video against former Pete Buttigieg on Saturday, contrasting his record on major national issues with the smaller-scale accomplishments of the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.

The video follows Biden’s remarks at the Democratic debate on Friday and on the campaign trail where he has said it’s a risk for the Democratic Party to nominate someone who’s only elected experience is mayor of a small city. On Saturday, he noted that South Bend’s population is smaller than Manchester — New Hampshire’s largest city.

The campaign’s new attack video says that while Biden helped pass the Affordable Care Act and the 2009 stimulus bill, Buttigieg “installed decorative lights under bridges giving citizens of South Bend colorfully illuminated rivers,” and “revitalized the sidewalks of downtown South Bend by laying out decorative brick.”

The video also more seriously targets Buttigieg for firing the city’s first African American police chief. 

Following the video’s online debut, Biden hit Buttigieg directly at a rallying event in Manchester. He told the crowd that for as much as Buttigieg touts how Democrats tend to pick new, underdog candidates as their nominee, he fails to mention that every nominee has won based on support from the African American community in which Buttigieg lacks support.

Buttigieg campaign spokesperson Chris Meagher responded to the ad, saying, “while Washington politics trivializes what goes on in communities like South Bend, South Bend residents who now have better jobs, rising income, and new life in their city don’t think their lives are a Washington politician’s punchline.“

“The vice president’s decision to run this ad speaks more to where he currently stands in this race than it does about Pete’s perspective as a mayor and veteran,” Meaher said.

New Hampshire officials anticipate high turnout, clean reporting for election

MANCHESTER, NH — New Hampshire’s chief election’s officer, Secretary of State Bill Gardner, says he is anticipating a record turnout on Tuesday’s primary, predicting there will be 420,000 ballots cast, including 292,000 cast specifically in the Democratic primary. 

“This would be the most votes cast in a presidential primary when an incumbent is running for re-election,” a statement from Gardner’s office said.  

Not only could this be the highest turnout election that Gardner has seen, it will also be the 100th anniversary of the New Hampshire primary, and state officials are working to ensure that it goes off without a hitch. 

Secretary of State of New Hampshire Bill Gardner (center) addresses the audience during the second meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College on September 12, 2017 in Goffstown, New Hampshire.Kayana Szymczak / for NBC News

Gardner, Gov. Chris Sununu and Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald were among state officials who tried to assuage concerns that Tuesday’s primary will have any of the chaos that consumed the Iowa caucuses. Sununu pointed to the integrity of the paper ballots during the press conference. 

“When our citizens cast their ballot, they know their vote will be counted correctly with integrity, and on time,” Sununu said.

N.H. officials are also putting into place several security mechanisms to assure the public of that integrity: there will be an Election Day hotline staffed with a team of attorneys ready to respond to issues, and every town will be visited by a polling place inspector from the Department of Justice, including midnight voting towns which is a new addition this year. 

“This is not a 100 year tradition as much as I think we see it as 100 year responsibility of getting it right,” Sununu said, applauding state officials for ensuring transparency and reliability in the process for years and even decades. “Not just the state, but the nation and even the eyes of the world do look upon New Hampshire and trust New Hampshire to lead the nation to get it right every single time.”

The primary’s results are expected to be known around 9:30 p.m. on election night, according to Gardner. At each location, moderators will read the ballot results out loud, the county’s clerk will write down the results and return envelopes to one of 36 counting locations statewide. At 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, officers will pick up the envelopes and deliver them directly to the Secretary of State’s office by 7 a.m.

Given inconsistencies in the Iowa caucuses surrounding an app that was used, officials assured that optical scanner devices used to count ballots are not connected to the internet, and instead rely on manually secured memory cards, an issue that Gardner says distinguishes New Hampshire from Iowa.

“We don’t have apps that deal with voting or tallying the votes,” Gardner said.

And as to why teams of attorneys may be needed, MacDonald said it is so issues can be resolved “collaboratively.” 

“To the extent that any issues do arise on election day — it has been our experience that they can be resolved cooperatively, collaboratively working with local election officials,” MacDonald said. 

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said he is fully confident that Tuesday’s primary will be done and counted cleanly. 

“We’ve had 100 years without an issue,” Buckley said. “We have 100 percent confidence our local election officials along with our state officials will make sure everything runs perfectly.”

Sanders hits Buttigieg for billionaire support ahead of New Hampshire primary

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., went after Pete Buttigieg Friday for the former South Bend mayor’s support from big-money donors at the final New Hampshire Institute of Politics’ “Politics & Eggs” event of the cycle.

Sanders singled out Buttigieg and billionaire candidates Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg in the same breath while speaking to the crowd at Saint Anselm College, reading a series of newspaper headlines like Forbes’ “Pete Buttigieg has most exclusive billionaire donors than any Democrat” and The Hill’s “Pete Buttigieg tops billionaire donor list,” among others.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg at the Democratic presidential primary debate on Jan. 14, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

“I like Pete Buttigieg, nice guy,” Sanders said to awkward laughs in the room. “But we are in a moment where billionaires control not only our economy but our political life.”

Sanders also mused about a general election against President Trump, saying that he has read that “some of his advisors tell him that I will be the toughest candidate for him to run against.”

The senator faced the reality that turnout in Iowa — where he and Buttigieg remain essentially tied amid questions about the accuracy of the vote count — was not what his campaign had hoped for but pointed out some positives. 

“The Iowa caucus is behind us and while the voter turnout is not as high as I would have liked, you know what did happen? We saw a 30 percent increase in young people under 29 voting,” Sanders said. “If we’re gonna defeat Trump, we need a huge increase in young people’s participation in the political process.”

He added that his campaign needs to reach out to “some of Trump’s working class supporters and make it clear that they understand the fraud that he is.”

Sanders was asked about criticism that his candidacy is similar to that of Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn, a left-wing candidate who lost badly in last month’s elections there, and whether he was concerned that could foreshadow what happens in the United States in 2020. 

Sanders responded that while Trump will be a difficult opponent to run against, he believes that having the largest voter turnout in history will be key for Democrats.

“I think we are the candidate,” Sanders added. “We are a multi-generational, multi-racial campaign that has the capability of reaching out to communities all across this country, bringing them into the political process to defeat Trump.”

The New Hampshire Institute of Politics’ “Politics & Eggs” is sponsored by companies such as Comcast, Bank of America and Eversource Energy — in other words, the entities Sanders consistently attacks.

The room’s walls were plastered with the groups’ signage and many audience members present work for the companies. This was not a typical crowd for a Sanders event. Instead of the usual chants of “Bernie, Bernie!,” Sanders was met with polite applause. 

Sanders and Buttigieg will both attend ABC News’ presidential debate tonight. 

-Liz Brown-Kaiser contributed.

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‘A lying, dog-faced pony soldier’: just what was Joe Biden talking about? | US news

It was all going so badly for Joe Biden. And then it got worse.

Concerns for the former vice-president’s 2020 bid were mounting after he was caught on camera calling a woman a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier” at a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Sunday.

When Madison Moore, a 21-year-old economics student, asked Biden whether voters could remain confident in his campaign after his poor performance in the Iowa caucuses, Biden asked her if she had ever attended a caucus. When Moore said yes, Biden responded: “No you haven’t! You’re a lying, dog-faced pony soldier.”

There didn’t seem to be any hard feelings – footage showed the audience laughing at Biden’s quip, and even Moore seems to be having a little giggle.


Steve Guest
(@SteveGuest)

Joe Biden to New Hampshire voter asking about why he lost in Iowa “you’re a lying dog-faced pony solider” pic.twitter.com/H7F6zwjLkL


February 9, 2020

But his remark has still left people wondering what on earth Biden was referencing.

It’s not even the first time Biden has used the phrase. At a 2018 campaign event, talking about the Republican senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Biden said: “As my brother, who loves to use lines from movies, from John Wayne movies … there’s a line in a movie where an Indian chief turns to John Wayne and says: ‘This is a lying, dog-faced pony soldier.’”

Biden’s spokespeople said the line comes from a John Wayne film – but it’s not clear it does. There is a 1952 western called Pony Soldier, but it does not star John Wayne, and no one is called a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier” in it, according to Slate. There is, reportedly, a line in the film in which a chief says: “The pony soldier speaks with a tongue of the snake that rattles.” Swings and roundabouts; dogs and rattlesnakes, I suppose.

For those worried about what the misattributed quote might do to Biden’s support, fear not. A recent video of Biden’s supporters chanting his name to the tune of Everybody by Backstreet Boys proves love is not only blind, but also deaf – they probably haven’t even noticed.

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Biden plummets in new national poll, ceding top spot to Bernie

While former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg got a 4-point bump after appearing to narrowly edge Sanders out for first place in the Iowa state delegate count — results which Buttigieg and Sanders are both challenging — Buttigieg came in at 5th place nationally in the Quinnipiac poll, with 10 percent of the vote. Sen. Amy Klobuchar rounds out the top six with 4 percent, a drop of 3 points, while no other candidate broke 2 percent in the poll.

The Quinnipiac survey is the latest yet to show a still-fluid race in the Democratic primary, but continues a trend in which both Sanders and Bloomberg are on the rise, while Biden, once considered the prohibitive frontrunner, is losing standing.

Sanders looks likely to continue gaining momentum, heading into Tuesday’s primary as the candidate to beat in New Hampshire. Bloomberg’s steady rise, meanwhile, comes as he’s continued to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into advertising nationally. He’s also shirked the critical spotlight of the debate stage thus far, and has been banking on mixed results for his rivals out of the first four early voting states before the Super Tuesday contests he’s staked his candidacy on.

Monday’s poll finds the former vice president with his lowest national numbers yet in a Quinnipiac poll, but his weakened stance nationally is likely not the only cause for concern for Biden’s campaign.

The survey also shows that Bloomberg is successfully eating into Biden’s popularity among black voters, a key Democratic voting bloc that had been considered the vice president’s firewall should he falter in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

While Biden is still holding onto his lead among black voters, according to the poll, his support has plummeted from 49 percent before the caucuses to 27 percent. Bloomberg, meanwhile, has rocketed into second place among black voters, with 22 percent support compared to 7 percent late last month.

The poll also brings Bloomberg one step closer toward qualifying for the next Democratic primary debate, which is on Feb. 19 in Nevada. He needs to hit at least 10 percent in two more polls by Feb. 18 to qualify. So far, Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren have qualified for the debate, according to POLITICO’s tracking of public polling and delegate allocations.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted from Feb. 5-9 among 1,519 self-identified registered voters nationwide, including 665 Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic. Results among Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Zach Montellaro contributed to this report.

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Justice Department would examine Ukraine information from Giuliani, Barr says

Attorney General William Barr confirmed that the Justice Department theoretically would assess information from Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine-related investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden.

“We had established an intake process in the field so that any information coming in about Ukraine could be carefully scrutinized by the department and its intelligence community partners so that we could assess its provenance and its credibility,” Barr said during a Justice Department press conference on Monday. “That is true for any information that comes to the department related to the Ukraine, including any information Mr. Giuliani might provide.”

Barr’s comments came after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham announced on Sunday that Barr told him he was “receiving information coming out of Ukraine” from Giuliani and that DOJ “would see if it’s verified.”

The South Carolina Republican said he’d spoken with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and Barr about how to handle Giuliani’s foray into Ukraine, which was a part of the recent impeachment effort against President Trump. Graham said the two men told him to “take very cautiously anything coming out of the Ukraine against anybody.”

Giuliani has said he is “ramping up” his investigations into the Bidens following Trump’s acquittal by the Senate.

In January, the DOJ rejected as “100% false” allegations made by Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Giuliani, that Barr was “absolutely” involved in Giuliani’s Ukraine scheme. Last month, DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the department’s position “has not changed” since September, when the Ukraine controversy broke via an anonymous whistleblower complaint, and the department emphatically distanced itself from Giuliani’s efforts.

A DOJ official confirmed with the Washington Examiner on Monday that the department stood by its September statement. The DOJ official said a process had been set up outside of DOJ headquarters to determine the accuracy of any information Giuliani or others might obtain from Ukraine.

“The President has not spoken with the Attorney General about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son, and the President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine — on this or any other matter,” the DOJ said last year. “The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine — on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani.”

During a Monday press conference announcing indictments against Chinese military hackers, Barr said he was open to receiving information from Ukraine but would be careful to ensure it wasn’t disinformation.

“The DOJ has the obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant. But as I did say to Sen. Graham, we have to be very careful with respect to any information coming from the Ukraine,” Barr said. “There are a lot of agendas in the Ukraine, a lot of cross-currents, and we can’t take anything we receive from the Ukraine at face value.”

Barr was reportedly dismayed to discover Trump grouped him in with Giuliani during a controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July. A transcript showed Trump saying Giuliani could help the country investigate the Bidens.

“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call, and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call, and we will get to the bottom of it,” Trump told Zelensky.

In the call, immediately after Zelensky expressed interest in purchasing anti-tank weaponry known as Javelins, Trump asked Zelensky “to do us a favor though,” to look into a CrowdStrike conspiracy theory and possible Ukrainian election interference in 2016. Trump later urged Zelensky to investigate “the other thing,” referring to allegations of corruption related to the Bidens.

The FBI’s Deputy Director David Bowdich was pressed on Monday about how the DOJ receiving information from Giuliani was different from it receiving information from British ex-spy Christopher Steele, whose unverified dossier was used in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants targeting Trump campaign associate Carter Page. The former MI6 agent was paid by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which had been hired by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee through an intermediary.

“I will stand on the attorney general’s previous answer,” Bowdich said. “We’re taking information as we would in any case. We will evaluate it appropriately.”

“I’m not going to be the Republican Christopher Steele,” Graham said on Sunday.

When asked if the FBI was investigating the Bidens, the FBI deputy director declined to say. Last week, a memo from Barr made it clear that the FBI must obtain the attorney general’s signoff before investigating any 2020 candidates or campaigns.

“I’m not going to talk about any investigation, as I never would. We don’t talk about open investigations,” Bowdich said.

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Joe Biden said Bernie Sanders would cost Democrats the Senate. Is he right?

“Well, you know, you know that — with regard to Senator Sanders, the President wants very much to stick a label on every candidate,” Biden said of how President Donald Trump would approach running against the Vermont senator. “We’re going to not only have to win this time, we have to bring along the United States Senate. And Bernie’s labeled himself, not me, a democratic socialist. I think that’s the label that the President’s going to lay on everyone running with Bernie, if he’s a nominee.”

“And that’s why, as — as you all look at it up here in New Hampshire and around the world — excuse me, around the country — you have to ask yourself, ‘Who is most likely to help get a senator elected in North Carolina, Georgia? Who can win Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota? Who can do that?'”

And then again toward the end of the debate, Biden went back to this idea: “You’ve got to be able to not just win. You’ve got to bring along a United States Senate, or this becomes moot.”

That argument is one that, in theory, Democratic base voters might respond to. After two Supreme Court Justices and nearly 200 total federal judgeships that have been approved under Trump with the aid of the Republican-led Senate, there’s no doubt that Democratic base voters understand how important it is to not just win back the White House but also reclaim the Senate in 2020.

But what about the argument itself? Is Biden right? Does Sanders cost Democrats any chance to win the Senate majority in November?

Before we get to that, let’s set the stage: There are 23 Republican seats up this fall as compared to 12 for Democrats. To win back the Senate majority, Democrats need to net three seats (if they win the White House) or four (if they don’t).
At the moment, the Cook Political Report, a non-partisan handicapping tipsheet, rates three GOP seats (Arizona, Colorado and Maine) as “toss-ups,” while it sees the seat of Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones seat leaning toward Republicans. Cook also has three GOP seats in the lean GOP category: The Kansas open seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts as well as those of North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and appointed Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

All of which means that Democrats need to win in states that Trump won in 2016 (and is likely to win again in 2020) if they want to win the Senate back. Because of the 23 seats Republicans are defending, just two — Maine and Colorado — were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Now, it’s obviously difficult to gauge in February whether Sanders would jeopardize the ability of down-ballot candidates in, say, North Carolina or Georgia, or even Maine or Arizona, to win.

The conventional wisdom is that Biden, who is running as a pragmatic centrist who can win back states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that Trump won in 2016, is the safer bet for down-ballot Democrats. That Biden is safe. And that Sanders, who identifies as a democratic socialist and is proposing trillions more in federal spending on things like “Medicare for All” and the “Green New Deal,” is, um not. The conventional wisdom also seems to be that Trump will label every Democrat on the ballot with Sanders as a socialist and they won’t be able to fight back effectively because of Sanders’ party affiliation and past statements on why he believes what he believes.

Maybe!

There’s relatively limited polling out there to compare Sanders at the top of the ticket to, say, Biden, so it’s difficult to judge how much better or worse Sanders would perform at the top of the ticket in November. Or whether, even if he was solid at the top of the ticket, there would be down-ballot repercussions from either his party affiliation or hugely liberal policy positions.

But as of today, what Biden appears to be basing his Sanders-will-cost-us-a-chance-at-the-Senate argument on is just the conventional wisdom that nominating a more overtly liberal candidate in more conservative-minded areas will hurt down-ballot Democrats. Again, maybe! But the numbers — at least so far — don’t bear that out.

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Sanders asks for recanvass of 25 Iowa caucus precincts — RT USA News

Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has formally requested a partial review of last week’s Iowa caucuses, after getting more votes but fewer delegates than rival Pete Buttigieg.

The recanvass request would apply to 25 precincts and three satellite sites. The Sanders campaign suggested they might ask for a full recount afterward.

“While a recanvass is just the first step in the process and we don’t expect it to change the current calculations, it is a necessary part of making sure Iowans can trust the final results of the caucus,” campaign adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement on Monday.




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Feel the Bern? Sanders takes lead in New Hampshire, him & Buttigieg gain ground nationwide after Iowa caucus fail – polls



Last Monday’s caucuses turned out to be a disaster of epic proportions for the Democrats, as the smartphone app intended to tally results “glitched” and the reporting phone lines collapsed under the workload. Full results were not available for days, and when they finally trickled in, they showed Buttigieg 0.1 percent ahead of Sanders and getting one more delegate as a result – but Sanders winning more of the popular vote.

The Sanders campaign has pointed to numerous issues and inconsistencies with the count and the reporting, saying that they should be awarded another delegate. Meanwhile, Buttigieg rode the publicity of winning the caucuses all the way to Friday night’s debate, ahead of the primaries in New Hampshire. 




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Iowa caucuses fiasco is a ‘spectacular’ first step for Democrats to get Trump re-elected



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