Clinton campaign claims Iowa victory, Sanders calls result a ‘virtual tie’

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., stepping off his campaign bus an event with United Steelworkers Local 310L in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 26, 2016. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., stepping off his campaign bus an event with United Steelworkers Local 310L in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 26, 2016. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Hillary Clinton’s campaign claimed victory in the close Iowa Caucus race against Jewish candidate Bernie Sanders.

The candidates finished in what Sanders told supporters was a “virtual tie,” with Clinton finishing at  49.9 percent of Iowa precincts and Sanders with 49.6 percent, early Tuesday morning. Sanders campaign had not conceded as of early Tuesday morning.

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Sanders told reporters early Tuesday morning on an airplane heading for Manchester, New Hampshire, that his campaign is now “in this for the long haul,” the Washington Post reported.

Sanders also called the Iowa results “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.”

Following the caucus, former Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who received less than 1 percent of precincts, suspended his campaign.

The Associated Press declined to call the race with one precinct not reporting.

“I stand here tonight breathing a big sigh of relief. Thank you, Iowa,” Clinton said in a speech to supporters.

Sanders, who is Jewish, is leading in polling ahead of the Feb. 9 primary vote in New Hampshire, the next early nomination state. If he secures an Iowa win, he could claim momentum for a campaign that was once perceived as hopeless against Clinton, the front-runner in national polls.

Sanders has run mostly to the left of Clinton, focusing on economic issues and attacking her ties to Wall Street. Clinton has focused on her experience, including in foreign policy, where she has played up her role in shaping last year’s Iran nuclear deal and her close relations with Israel’s leadership.

Also on Monday night, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas won the Iowa Republican caucus with 28 percent of the precincts, with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. competing with Donald Trump for second place; Trump finished with 24 percent of precincts and Rubio with 23 percent. Rubio had for a time languished low in the polls along with other establishment candidates.

Cruz and Rubio have worked hard to cultivate the pro-Israel wing of the party; both candidates are favorites of Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the Las Vegas-based billionaire couple who are leading powerbrokers in the Republican Party and the pro-Israel community.

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