SOMEWHERE ABOVE THE GREAT LAKES — After making his way toward the back of his chartered jet, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders told a crush of reporters jockeying for position in the aisle that his campaign is now “in this for the long haul.”
“We’re going to win states all over the country,” a beaming Sanders predicted as the hour neared 3 a.m. EST on Tuesday morning.
The mood on the flight out of Des Moines was celebratory — with wine flowing freely — in the wake of a near-tie with Hillary Clinton in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.
Sanders wasted little time in heading to New Hampshire, which holds its primary on Feb. 9. His flight touched down in Manchester at 4:11 a.m. He has two “get-out-the-vote” rallies planned later Thursday, in Keene and Claremont.
During his exchange with the media, Sanders called the result from Iowa “a wonderful start off to the national campaign” and said “we’re in this to the convention, and this is a campaign that we can win.”
He has been leading in the polls in New Hampshire, but faces a steeper climb in several of the states that follow, including Nevada and South Carolina.
With most precincts reporting, Clinton was leading Sanders in Iowa, 49.9 percent to 49.6 percent — enough of a margin for the Clinton camp to declare victory.
As Sanders was in the air, there was still some swirling confusion over some late-reporting precincts and whether they had been properly staffed.
“I honestly don’t know what happened,” Sanders told reporters. “There are some precincts that haven’t reported. Your guess is as good as mine. I hope and expect that the count will be honest.”
Sanders’s campaign manager Jeff Weaver and strategist Tad Devine also took their turns engaging with the media, as did Sanders’s wife, Jane.
Jane Sanders, former college president, said the evening had been “exhilarating” and that watching the results come in was quite the roller-coaster ride.
After landing in Manchester, the candidate and his wife were heading to Concord, where a group of supporters was said to be waiting to greet them in the early morning hours.