Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday declared victory in the Iowa caucuses based on popular numbers as he stumped in New Hampshire ahead of the Granite State's primary next week.
At an event in Manchester, Sanders said he and former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg earned the same number of convention delegates from Iowa, but that he expected his campaign to draw 6,000 more popular votes — making him the "decisive" winner.
Sanders' remarks come as initial results from the Iowa caucuses showed Buttigieg clinging to the narrowest of leads in Iowa over Sen. Bernie Sanders with 97 percent of the caucus vote released, NBC News reported.
Buttigieg was at 26.2 percent and Sanders had 26 percent, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 18.2 percent. Former Vice President Joe Biden had 15.8 percent and Sen. Amy Klobuchar stood at at 12.2 percent.
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In voters' initial candidate preference at the caucuses on Monday night, Sanders had 24.7 percent, or 42,672 votes, and Buttigieg took 21.3 percent, or 36,718 votes.
The top four candidates in terms of polling were all slated to appear at events in the Granite State Thursday. Sanders, who is leading in the polls in New Hampshire, will have a televised town hall tonight in Manchester.
Buttigieg will host a conversation this afternoon in Merrimack with veterans, while Elizabeth Warren will have a "Get Out The Vote" rally in Derry tonight around 6 p.m.
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, will be campaigning for her husband today in Manchester just before noon.
On Wednesday, Biden escalated his criticism of his top Democratic rivals as he stumped in New Hampshire.
Biden suggested Sanders and Buttigieg were risky choices for a party desperate for a return to the White House. Biden conceded that he was disappointed by his sagging performance in the leadoff Iowa caucuses, calling it a ``gut punch'' for his campaign.
As he turned his attention to New Hampshire, he sought to reenergize his campaign by drawing sharper contrasts with those who led in Iowa, including casting Sanders as a drag on others in the party.
The final debate before the New Hampshire primary is scheduled for Friday night.