NASHUA, N.H. — Hillary Clinton is digging in for a tough fight against Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in next week’s primary in New Hampshire, her advisers said Tuesday, trying to spark political momentum and fundraising energy after only a razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucuses.
The Clinton campaign had considered shifting its focus to Nevada and South Carolina, which hold nominating contests later in February. But Clinton, with the strong support of former President Bill Clinton, decided she would help herself more by closing the gap in New Hampshire, where polls show Sanders with a double-digit lead. The Clintons even hope she might pull off an upset win here, as she did in 2008, given their long history of campaigning in the state.
But Sanders is planning a serious battle. As he and Clinton took separate charter flights from Iowa to New Hampshire before dawn on Tuesday, Sanders and his team were making plans to spend more than $1 million on television commercials in an attempt to solidify his advantage. He also drew about $3 million in donations in the 24 hours after his caucus speech Monday night, his campaign said; with $28 million on hand, compared with Clinton’s $38 million, Sanders advisers expressed confidence that he would not stumble like other insurgent presidential candidates of the past.
The absence of a clear political triumph in Iowa put both Democratic candidates in unexpected positions coming into New Hampshire.
Clinton had a victory speech written for delivery on Monday night in Des Moines, in which she would have virtually ignored Sanders and attacked the Republican candidates. News organizations did not declare her the winner until midday Tuesday. While she said she was “thrilled’’ with the result, Clinton was now preparing to use a televised town-hall forum Wednesday night and a televised debate Thursday night to draw pointed contrasts with Sanders and to try to win over New Hampshire voters Feb. 9 without the benefit of a momentum surge from Iowa.
Still, she cast her Iowa caucus victory, the first ever by a woman, in the best possible light.
“I can tell you, I’ve won and I’ve lost there, and it’s better to win,’’ Clinton told a crowd of more than 1,100 people at a community college in Nashua.
“This is going to be a great week of campaigning,’’ she added, noting the televised events, the first one in which only she and Sanders will be on stage. (Former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland suspended his campaign Monday night.) “I am so looking forward to engaging in a contest of ideas on our side.’’
Sanders had hoped to unnerve Clinton by eking out a win in Iowa, and instead found himself trying to spin gold out of his “virtual tie’’ with her in the caucuses. Yet he and his advisers welcomed the sudden prospect of increased competition from Clinton here because it played into the expectations game as the Sanders campaign would like to play it.
The Clinton campaign has already sought to dismiss any potential victory by Sanders here as irrelevant, given the state’s history of rewarding candidates from New England. “I know I am in a contest with your neighbor,’’ Clinton said Tuesday night in Hampton, New Hampshire. “We are in his backyard.’’
The Sanders campaign is arguing that a victory here by Sanders is not a certainty.
“Now we have a two-way race, one-on-one, and it is going to be played out here in New Hampshire,’’ said Tad Devine a senior strategist for the Sanders campaign. “That’s our big test right now,’’ he added. “We have to demonstrate that he can take on Hillary Clinton and defeat her.’’
Sanders vowed on Tuesday to campaign hard across New Hampshire and said that as in Iowa, his campaign would focus on getting supporters to the polls on election night. “Secretary Clinton won here in 2008,’’ he told a group of reporters in Keene after a rally. “Secretary Clinton has a very formidable political organization and, as you know, has virtually the entire political establishment on her side. So, you know, we are taking nothing for granted.’’
For the Clintons, the New Hampshire primary holds an emotional attachment. It is the state that made Bill Clinton the “Comeback Kid’’ after he overcame scandal to place second here in 1992. Hillary Clinton said she “found my own voice’’ in New Hampshire in 2008 with a surprise victory here after finishing third in Iowa.
Advisers have encouraged the Clintons to devote more time on Nevada and South Carolina but have been met with resistance because the couple refuse to entertain the idea that what could be the last presidential campaign of their political careers would include a loss here.Clinton did not alter her stump speech Tuesday, but she did turn the focus to a broiling debate inside the Democratic Party, one that pits her more moderate but achievable goals against the liberal ambitions of the big government vision of Sanders. Clinton advisers said there were no plans for Clinton to turn sharply negative against Sanders, but rather she planned to focus on courting young voters and liberals, the two parts of the electorate that overwhelmingly favored Sanders in Iowa. New Hampshire polls have shown that many young Democrats here are deeply skeptical of Clinton’s honesty and view her unfavorably.
Both candidates are expected to focus intensely on New Hampshire, with Clinton advisers saying that Clinton may leave the state only for potential fundraising events. Devine, Sanders’ strategist, said Sanders might spend a night at home in Burlington, and next week could dip into Massachusetts, which has an election on March 1.
On Tuesday he was in Keene, near the Vermont border. “If we have a strong base of support in places we want to make sure it’s enthusiastic,’’ Devine said. The campaign will be staging rallies in the more populous southern parts of the state, where Sanders also will air more than $1 million worth of television ads.
Devine seemed confident that what separated Sanders from insurgent candidates of the past was a vast fundraising network of small donors that neutralized Clinton’s establishment edge. Sanders has been on a fundraising tear recently, raising $20 million online in January alone. On Tuesday evening the Sanders campaign sent out a new fundraising appeal to supporters pointing out that the caucus results were so close that they had to flip a coin in some precincts. By contrast, in New Hampshire, the Sanders campaign wrote, “we want to come away with a sure victory.’’
The Clinton campaign has declined to reveal her recent fundraising figures, but allies of the Clintons say that her online giving is less robust than Sanders’ and that she remembers painfully how she was caught unaware in 2008 when her campaign ran low on money.
The uncertain outcome in Iowa dealt a jolting psychological blow to the Clinton campaign, leaving volunteers, donors and aides confused throughout the night, and then crestfallen. The mood improved on Tuesday afternoon, after The Associated Press called the caucuses in Clinton’s favor, but it was hardly the kind of decisive victory her supporters and aides had hoped would put to rest any doubts about her strength as a candidate.
So on Tuesday Clinton urged the voters who gave her a surprise win in 2008 to get behind her again. “New Hampshire, come with me this week,’’ she told the crowd in Nashua just before The Associated Press called the Iowa race. A woman shouted, “We are!’’
Video: Sanders hails Iowa finish in N.H.
Sanders hails Iowa finish in N.H. By Scott LaPierre / Globe Staff