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Sanders not ready to concede Iowa or confirm appearance in Thursday night debate

Bernie Sanders speaks to reporters from his bus outside his campaign's Iowa headquarters in Des Moines on Monday. (Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

KEENE, N.H. — Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders said Tuesday afternoon that was not yet prepared to concede that Hillary Clinton won the Iowa caucuses and that a planned debate between the two of them Thursday has still not been finalized.

Speaking to supporters after a campaign rally here, Sanders said "we want to look at some of the numbers” reported from Monday night’s caucuses, in which the Iowa Democratic Party said that Clinton had prevailed by the narrowest of margins.

Among other things, the Vermont senator said he was concerned that some delegates were awarded by a flip of a coin in precincts where there were ties.

"Not the best way to do democracy," Sanders said.

Iowa count: Clinton nudges past Sanders in photo-finish race

With all precincts reporting, the state party said Tuesday morning that Hillary Clinton had edged Sanders on the share of delegates awarded, 49.8 percent to 49.6 percent. Clinton’s campaign declared victory even before the final tallies were released.

Sanders’s comments here — where he drew a crowd estimated at 1,166 people — echoed those of his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver. He who told The Washington Post earlier Tuesday that he was not sure the actual winner of the Iowa caucuses would ever be known with certainty, given the arcane rules of the caucuses and other factors.

Sanders also told reporters that a debate that MSNBC is attempting to pull together in New Hampshire on Thursday night is not a done deal.

In an interview Tuesday with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Clinton said: “I’m going to be there.”

The face-off would not be part of the initial six debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, and Sanders is seeking to negotiate a larger addition to the original schedule.

Sanders told reporters that Clinton is balking at his campaign’s proposal to hold a debate in New York, a state that Clinton represented as a United States senator.

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

“I hope and expect this thing will be resolved,” he said, but added: “We’re still working on the details.”

Underscoring Sanders’s point about New York, his campaign issued a news release late Tuesday afternoon with the headline: “Hillary Clinton to New York City: NO!”

The release also quoted Weaver asking why Clinton is "dissing the Big Apple.”

Sanders also took a few jabs at the former secretary of state during his media availability.

Asked if he considers her a progressive, Sanders said: “Some days, yes, except when she announces she is a proud moderate, and then I guess she is not a progressive.”

“I think frankly it is very hard to be a real progressive and to take on the establishment in the way that I think it has to be taken on when you’ve become as dependent as she has on her super PAC … and Wall Street or drug company money,” Sanders said.

Polls have showed Sanders with a lead over Clinton in the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary, but he said Tuesday that he intends to campaign very hard.

“We are taking nothing for granted, trust me,” he said.