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12.02.2020 Europe

Bernie Sanders clinches victory in New Hampshire

By RFI
REUTERS/Mike Segar
LISTEN FEB 12, 2020
REUTERS/Mike Segar

US Senator Bernie Sanders edged past moderate rival Pete Buttigieg Tuesday to clinch a narrow victory in the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire, cementing his status as a frontrunner in the Democratic presidential race.

"This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump," the 78-year-old self-described democratic socialist told cheering supporters in the northeastern state on Tuesday.

Sanders, the flag-bearer for the party's leftist progressive wing, won 26 percent of votes, narrowly beating back a strong challenge from former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, who finished in second place with 24 percent.

The New Hampshire vote gives new clarity to a Democratic contest potentially shaping up to be a battle between Sanders and Buttigieg, two men separated by four decades in age and clashing political ideologies.

"The enthusiasm for Bernie is real," said Marilyn Martin, a campaign volunteer in the state capital, Concord.

While, Ayesha Wadhawan, a 26-year-old tutor who volunteered for the Sanders campaign in New Hampshire said "it just feels like this is a huge step towards achieving positive change for people in this country."

Dramatic shift
Buoyed by his strong start, Sanders has emerged as the national Democratic frontrunner with 25 percent support, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll that described his surge as a "dramatic shift."

Speaking to his supporters, Sanders said: "Now our campaign moves on to Nevada, to South Carolina, to communities across our country. And we will welcome new allies to our movement at every step."

Meanwhile, midwestern moderate Amy Klobuchar maintained a late surge to place third with about 20 percent of the vote, while liberal Elizabeth Warren finished in fourth at about nine percent.

Former frontrunner, Joe Biden, who conceded he would not top the leaderboard in New Hampshire, languished in fifth with just over eight percent.

The former vice president is now hoping to capitalise on his support among African-Americans in South Carolina.

Competing for the support defecting from Biden, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who skipped Tuesday's ballot, is focusing on Super Tuesday on 3 March, when 14 states go to the polls.

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