- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 9, 2016

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Sen. Bernard Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary Tuesday, according to early results, adding even more momentum to the Vermont senator’s run and again calling into question the Clinton campaign’s ability to translate its unrivaled campaign machine into election victories.

The outcome here — which was not at all unexpected, with Mr. Sanders leading by double digits in most polls heading into Tuesday — dealt a major blow to Mrs. Clinton, once the Democratic Party’s inevitable nominee, and elevated Mr. Sanders into serious contention as a champion of the party’s liberal base.

News outlets declared Mr. Sanders the victor as he topped Mrs. Clinton 59 percent to 39 percent with 32 percent of the precincts reporting, according to the New Hampshire secretary of state.

SEE ALSO: Live Results: New Hampshire Primary Map Results

Mr. Sanders‘ victory comes after a bitter final week of the primary campaign here, a week that saw Mrs. Clinton, and especially former President Bill Clinton, launch intense attacks against the senator. They argued, among other things, that Mr. Sanders‘ policy proposals are unrealistic and that he’s not ready to be commander in chief.

Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent and self-described democratic socialist, makes no bones about the fact that he’s calling for a political revolution and running on a far-left agenda of expanding social welfare programs, cracking down on Wall Street, implementing a single-payer health care system for everyone in America, offering free college tuition for all and other items high on liberals’ wish list.

It’s clear his message resonated with Democrats in New Hampshire, and he said Tuesday night that his victory sent a message to the rich and powerful.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump cruises to victory in New Hampshire

“Together we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California, and that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their super PACs,” he told supporters at his campaign headquarters in Concord.

Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, must regroup after a razor-thin win in the Iowa caucuses last week and Tuesday’s drubbing in the Granite State.

The campaign now moves to Nevada and South Carolina, two states in which Mrs. Clinton still is leading Mr. Sanders by a significant margin, according to a RealClearPolitics average of all polls.

Anticipating defeat, the Clinton campaign credited Mr. Sanders‘ lead with his familiarity in New Hampshire as a leader in neighboring Vermont. But Mrs. Clinton also is well known in New Hampshire and had led there by more than 50 percentage points early in the race.

On Tuesday night Mrs. Clinton congratulated Mr. Sanders but still vowed to fight on and argued that she was the best candidate to accomplish the goals of the left.
“I still love New Hampshire, and I always will,” she told a cheering crowd at her postelection event in Nashua.

“We are going to fight for every vote in every state. We are going to fight for real solutions and make a difference in people’s lives,” said the former secretary of state.

She also acknowledged the anger against the political establishment that has fueled Mr. Sanders‘ crusade.

“People have every right to be angry, but they are hungry — they are hungry for solutions,” she said, vowing to champion human rights, women’s rights and gay rights.

She asked: “Who is the best changemaker?” People in the crowd called out: “Hillary.”

Mr. Sanders‘ rise, including finishing second in the Iowa caucuses by the smallest of margins, signals a dramatic leftward turn for the Democrats. Liberal leaders celebrated his win in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary and said the Democratic Party establishment — not-so-subtle code for the Clinton political machine — no longer holds the power it once did.

“Tonight’s impressive win is a wake-up call to cynics who have had difficulty envisioning a departure from the status quo. The American people are fed up with a corrupt and broken political system, believe change is possible and are ready to make it happen,” said Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action, which is backing Mr. Sanders.

“The political revolution Senator Bernie Sanders is leading now has the momentum headed into Nevada, South Carolina, Super Tuesday and beyond,” he said.

Across New Hampshire, voters expressed similar sentiments Tuesday and said they’re backing the Vermont senator because he’s different — and radical.

“I supported Bernie. I think he’s radical. He wants to have big changes,” said Robin Dite, 48, a family mediator who cast her ballot for Mr. Sanders at Portsmouth Middle School. “It was a hard choice. I almost changed my vote in the booth to Hillary. If [Mr. Sanders] didn’t exist, I would have supported Hillary.”

In Portsmouth on Tuesday morning, Sanders supporters stuck to a common theme: Major change is needed, and the Vermont senator is the only one capable of delivering it.

“We need to make some big changes,” said Kevin McKittrick, a near-lifelong Portsmouth resident and Democrat, just after casting his vote for Mr. Sanders at New Franklin School on the outskirts of town.

Many Sanders supporters said they have no issues with Mrs. Clinton and would back her in a general election.

“If she ends up being the nominee, I’d vote for her,” said Betsy Carter, a Portsmouth resident and instructor at the University of New Hampshire who voted for Mr. Sanders.

While Mrs. Clinton still boasts huge leads in upcoming states and has impressive campaign infrastructure in place across the country, Tuesday night’s defeat again raises the painful memories of 2008, when she was upended by then-Sen. Barack Obama and saw her seemingly untouchable campaign derailed by an upstart challenger.

Tuesday’s loss was especially stinging for Mrs. Clinton because she and her husband have a history of winning in the Granite State. Mrs. Clinton rebounded from a disappointing third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses in 2008 with a win in New Hampshire, propelling her into a drawn-out nominating contest against Mr. Obama.

Mr. Clinton was dubbed the “comeback kid” for his second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary in 1992 after trailing badly in the polls, going on to win the nomination and the White House.

This cycle Mr. Clinton has become a campaign trail weapon for his wife.

On Sunday and Monday he launched bitter, borderline personal attacks on Mr. Sanders, saying the senator lives in a “hermetically sealed” box and that his policy platform is entirely unrealistic. Mr. Clinton also took issue with the fact that Mr. Sanders frequently characterizes the Clintons as too close to Wall Street and a key cog in the Washington political establishment.

“It bothers me to be in an American election where a debate is impossible because if you disagree, you’re just part of the establishment,” Mr. Clinton told a crowd at Manchester Community College on Monday. “We can’t get in a place where we get so mad we demonize anyone who is against us.”

Some Sanders supporters hinted that the Clintons’ harsh attacks may come back to haunt them.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Bill [Clinton] until recently,” said Bill Downey, a Portsmouth resident who voted for Mr. Sanders Tuesday. The Clintons “are going to need us when it comes to the general election.”

The Sanders campaign sent a fundraising email to supporters after the victory, asking for donations to fend off an expected deluge of attacks financed by the Democratic establishment and Wall Street.

“Who knows what they’re going to throw at us next. All I know is we must be ready to respond, organize, and win,” Mr. Sanders wrote in the email.

“Nine months ago, if you told somebody that we would win the New Hampshire primary, they would not have believed you. Not at all. Too bold, they would have said. Not enough money to compete against the billionaires,” he said. “You showed them tonight.”

He closed the email: “In solidarity, Bernie Sanders.”

⦁ S.A. Miller reported from Washington.

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