Clinton, Sanders fight after tight Iowa race

Clinton, Sanders fight after tight Iowa race

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE on Tuesday sparred over their debate schedule and Iowa’s delegates after a tight finish in that state’s Democratic caucuses.

Clinton emerged from Iowa with a victory, but only by the slimmest of margins — two-tenths of a percentage point. 

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Team Clinton quickly signaled she intends to make the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9 as competitive as possible with an email to its vast alumni network calling for volunteers to help the former secretary of State’s presidential campaign.

Clinton is a heavy underdog against Sanders in New Hampshire, where she trails the Vermont senator by about 18 points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls.

Her campaign urged donors to contribute, citing an “uphill battle” in a state where Sanders has already outspent Clinton on television by more than $2 million.

Mike Cuzzi, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPatagonia files suit against Trump cuts to Utah monuments Former Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report Eighth Franken accuser comes forward as Dems call for resignation MORE’s deputy New Hampshire director in 2008, argued the close contest in Iowa was a wash for the two candidates in that it failed to deliver a meaningful victory to either side.

“Iowa effectively punted the ball, and that raises the stakes considerably for New Hampshire,” he said.

Clinton must now manage expectations, he said, “so that an anticipated loss in New Hampshire isn’t construed as reflecting some kind of critical deficiency of either the campaign or the candidacy.”

Team Clinton is also seeking to go on offense by pressing Sanders to debate her on Thursday, ahead of the New Hampshire primary.

“I sure hope — we’re in Bernie Sanders’s backyard here in New Hampshire — I sure hope he intends to show up in his neighboring state,” Clinton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday. “Let the people of New Hampshire see us both on the debate stage.”

It’s a flip of the script for Clinton, who Sanders supporters say has benefited from a debate schedule set by the Democratic National Committee that put many of the contests on weekends, when lower viewership was likely.

Sanders and his aides said they were willing to debate on Thursday only if Clinton agreed to a later debate in Brooklyn that might help Sanders ahead of that state’s primary.

Sanders told reporters on Tuesday that he “likes debates” but criticized Clinton for in the last 10 days seeking a change in the rules.

“I would like to see us do a debate in New York City,” he said. “And I am amazed that Secretary Clinton does not want to do a debate in the state that she represented.”

The Sanders team also disclosed Tuesday that it will leave at least one paid staffer on the ground in Iowa in the hopes of wrangling away delegates from the Clinton camp.

Clinton won 700.59 state delegate equivalents to Sanders’s 696.82, according to the state party. Those figures represent delegates the candidates will be able to send to the state convention and ultimately designate 44 delegates to represent Iowa at the Democratic National Convention. 

As the results stand, Clinton left the Iowa caucuses with 23 delegates to the national convention, and Sanders won 21, according to The Associated Press.

But Tad Devine, a top Sanders aide, told The Hill that the campaign hopes to win some of the local-level delegates away from Clinton as the caucus process moves forward.

“Those were precinct caucuses,” he said. “They are going to have county conventions, a state convention in Iowa, and we intend to work every tier of the caucus process.” 

That jockeying likely won’t lead to a significant shift in delegates to the national convention, but with the margin so close, it could have the potential to cut into or flip Clinton’s lead.

The Sanders campaign will also likely try to win over the eight local delegates pledged to former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who dropped out of the race Monday night. 

Devine argued that a big victory in New Hampshire would give Sanders momentum.

“If we win, that’s going to be a huge achievement for us, and we’ll see if we win how big it is,” he said. 

One Democratic strategist close to the Clinton campaign said a competitive showing in New Hampshire is crucial for Clinton if she wants to win the nomination.

The campaign has to take the state seriously, the strategist said. “I do think her seeking out a victory is important.” 

After flying to New Hampshire in the middle of the night, Clinton, appearing alongside her husband, held an event in Nashua hours later, where she drew sharp contrasts between herself and Sanders. And she asked supporters to “stand up with me. Fight for me.” 

“And if we win, I will stand up and fight for you,” she said.  

In 2008, Clinton won New Hampshire after a third-place finish in Iowa. She credited the people of New Hampshire at the time for helping to find her “voice.”

And one longtime friend said that with the right effort she could do it again. “I think it’s attainable,” the friend said. “I think she needs to keep on keeping on.”

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Clinton conceded that the state favors Sanders but said, “I feel good about my prospects.”