After a close finish in Iowa, both remaining Democratic presidential contenders - Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders - headed straight for the Granite State yesterday.
They each came claiming a victory.
Hillary Clinton had found out only hours earlier that she had eked out a victory over Bernie Sanders in Iowa, but as she took the stage at Nashua Community College, she was eager to talk about it.
“I can tell you, I’ve won and I’ve lost there -- it’s a lot better to win. And it’s also a great tribute to the organization and my supporters there and we’re bringing all that energy, all the excitement, all that determination right here to New Hampshire where we’re going to work hard up until the primary next week.”
Clinton went on to say she looks forward to what she says will be a true contest of ideas between her and Sanders. A contest she says will stand in stark contrast to the presidential nominating process happening on the Republican side. With that shift toward the GOP, Clinton rarely mentioned Sanders again. Instead she focused on an electability argument,describing what might happen if a Republican were to win the White House.
“Make no mistake, we are in a fight to the finish about whether or not we’re going to build on the progress we have made or watch it get ripped away. And New Hampshire is going to have decide who can go toe-to-toe with the Republicans to make sure they don’t wreck us again.”
Clinton told the audience that she is the candidate to protect and advance the hard-won progress the Democratic Party has made over the last half-century. Driving that point home, two party figureheads – one local, one national – joined Clinton on stage: Governor Maggie Hassan and former President Bill Clinton.
When Bernie Sanders took the stage at the Colonial Theatre in Keene later that afternoon, there were no prominent Democrats with him. But just like Clinton, Sanders also claimed a victory out of Iowa.
“Last night in Iowa we took on the most powerful political organization in this country. Last night we came back from a 50 point deficit in the polls. And last night we began the political revolution not just in Iowa, not just in New Hampshire, but all over this country.”
With that, Sanders began a stump speech virtually identical to every other he has given in this campaign. Income inequality, single-payer healthcare, free public colleges. Some of his supporters knew it so well they finished many of his well-worn sentences with him. On student debt, for instance:
“How much are you carrying? How much? Stand up, say it out loud. 183 thousands dollars. Now I feel like a Vermont auctioneer here, but anybody with even more?”
But while most of his speech was geared at riling up his supporters, Sanders also took a moment to address his critics.
“They’ll say you know Bernie, that sounds great. You’re going to help this young lady over there, you’re gonna reduce her student debt, you’re gonna make sure that young people in this country can go to college tuition free. Hey thank you Santa Claus, that’s great. But how are you going to pay for all of these things?”
Sanders’ answer? A tax on Wall Street speculation.
Both candidates have a week to make these final arguments to New Hampshire voters.