After a day of confusion and incomplete information, the two candidates who, at least for now, appear to have finished first and second in the Iowa Caucuses – Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders – spoke to enthusiastic crowds Tuesday evening. Both of them claimed Iowa victories...in New Hampshire.
It felt sort of like a victory party for Buttigieg in Laconia … except in the wrong state … and on the wrong day … and in front of people who haven’t voted yet. But there he was, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor, claiming that, thanks to Iowa, his campaign had "taken its place at the front of this race."
"They’re not complete, but results are in from a majority of precincts," Buttigieg told the crowd. "And they show our campaign in first place."
Buttigieg was all over New Hampshire Tuesday, including stops in Nashua, Manchester, the Seacoast, the Lakes Region and Concord. And for the most part, he stuck to his stump speech, not the chaos in Iowa.
But when the Iowa Democratic Party finally released partial caucus results, just before Buttigieg's evening speech in Laconia, he said the news was proof his message is resonating.
"It validates for a kid, somewhere in a community, wondering if he belongs or she belongs or they belong in their own family," Buttigieg said, appearing to hold back tears. "That if you believe in yourself or your country, there’s a lot backing up that belief."
It's still unclear when the rest of the Iowa numbers will come in, and how that could change the results.
But Buttigieg said, even if he moves to second or third place, Tuesday's news is still the best he's gotten since he entered the race.
Sanders: "I look forward to winning here in New Hampshire"
Sanders was the last candidate to campaign in New Hampshire following the Iowa confusion. His first event of the day didn’t start until around 7 o'clock in the evening in Milford.
The Sanders campaign says more than 1,300 people showed up, making it his biggest event in New Hampshire so far this cycle. The uncertainty from Iowa hung over that crowd: for voters still looking to make up their minds, but also for campaign volunteers like Cara Ciminello and Peter Sughrue from Massachusetts. They called the partial results from Iowa “sketchy” and said they're worried it could be part of an effort to hamstring the Sanders campaign.
"We don’t have a lot of trust for the system," Ciminello said.
Moments later, Sanders appeared onstage and tried to establish a simple narrative out of the incomplete Iowa results: that he had won.
"I’m very proud to tell you that, last night in Iowa, we received more votes on the first and second round than any other candidate," he said.
Having declared victory in Iowa, he predicted victory of a more conventional type, in New Hampshire.
"For some reason, in Iowa, they’re having a little bit of trouble counting votes," Sanders said. "But I am confident that here in New Hampshire, I know they’ll be able to count your votes on election night. And when you count those votes, I look forward to winning here in New Hampshire."
Sanders closed his speech by saying he is best positioned to defeat President Trump in the general election.
That match-up was the focus of Sanders' last event of the evening, in Manchester, where supporters stayed up late to hear him offer a rebuttal of Trump’s State of the Union address.