Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders declared himself the winner of the Iowa caucuses Thursday amid continued disarray in the count – pointing to his lead of about 6,000 votes in the popular vote at a press conference he organized in New Hampshire amid the state party disarray.
‘We here in northern new England call that a victory,’ Sanders told reporters at a press conference in Manchester.
But his pronouncement was one the Associated Press was unable to confirm: the wire service said Thursday it is ‘unable to declare a winner,’ citing ‘irregularities’ and because there is no ‘clear indication of a winner.’
Sanders trumpeted his showing among the total number of Iowans who caucused Thursday afternoon, even as he trailed South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg by a tiny fraction among state delegate equivalents – the metric networks and news organizations are focusing on. But he said he might end up prevailing by that metric as well.
Both proclamations came amid disarray in counting the results – a snafu that led to charges and counter-charges that continued into Thursday.
‘These state delegate equivalents have greatly diminished importance from past caucuses,’ Sanders said.
He was asked why people should believe his own victory speech over Buttigieg, who on caucus night proclaimed his team ‘victorious.’
‘Because I got 6,000 more votes,’ he responded.
Sanders also bashed the Iowa caucuses as overly complex, and says if he has anything to do about it the system will change by the next election.
‘That screw-up was extremely unfair to the people of Iowa,’ said Sanders. He didn’t explicitly call for a recanvass. The state party said in a statement that only after a candidate calls for one would it commence.
He also pushed back at former Vice President Joe Biden, who said Donald Trump is ‘desperate’ to brand him as a socialist, and whether the issue might cause serious blowback in November, when asked about it by DailyMail.com.
Sanders said Trump is corrupt and ‘pathological liar,’ and that he will run against him on that basis.
‘Let me tell my good friend Joe – when we’re dealing with somebody like Donald Trump who lies all the time, he will pin any label that he wants on any candidate. it doesn’t really matter,’ Sanders said.
‘We will expose Trump not only for the liar, pathological liar that he is, but for the fraud – he’s a total fraud,’ said Sanders. ‘He is a fraud. He is a liar. And we will expose him for what he is,’ Sanders said.
Later Thursday, Buttigieg addressed a few hundred supporters an American Legion post in Merrimack. He didn’t address Sanders’ new victory claim, making only a brief mention of Iowa.
‘New Hampshire is not the kind of place to let Iowa or anybody else tell you what to do,’ he told supporters after touting his military experience.
Sanders pointed to ‘mathematical errors’ in the count, following a New York Times report on the overall SNAFU, linked to a faulty app ad reporting problems.
‘I really do feel bad for the people of Iowa,’ Sanders said, predicting he would do well in all the early states.
He spoke shortly after DNC chair Tom Perez called for a recanvass of the state results. ‘Enough is enough,’ wrote Perez.
Iowa state chair Troy Price defend the state party’s conduct in a statement. ‘While I fully acknowledge that the reporting circumstances on Monday night were unacceptable, we owe it to the thousands of Iowa Democratic volunteers and caucusg-oers to remain focused on collecting and reviewing incoming results,’ Price said.
‘Throughout the collection of records of results, the [Iowa Democratic Party] identified inconsistencies in the data and used our redundant paper records to promptly correct those errors. This is an ongoing process in close coordination with precinct chairs, and we are working diligently to report the final 54 precincts to get as close to final reporting as possible,’ he said.
Sanders also raised questions about the 2016 results, where he lost to Hillary Clinton in Iowa, when asked about it.
Clinton beat Sanders by a tiny margin that year, but an audit showed errors in the original count.
‘I can’t give you a definitive answer of what happened in 2016,’ he said. ‘I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows,’ he said.
‘There is some supposition that we actually won the popular vote,’ sanders aid.
His press statement, which he said should have come three days earlier in Iowa, coincided with Trump’s White House victory party, where he held up a Washington Post headline showing his acquittal in impeachment.
As Sanders spoke, with 96 per cent of the vote counted, Buttigieg was leading him by 0.1 percent of the vote in state delegate equivalents. He conceded the two would likely get the same amount of delegates to the national convention out of Iowa.
Buttigieg, 38, is expecting a boost out of his performance as a relative neophyte, and flew Wednesday to New York and New Jersey for fundraisers.