DES MOINES, Iowa – Hillary Clinton said she’s “breathing a big sigh of relief” Monday night as early returns show her with a narrow lead in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation Democratic Caucuses, with most precincts reporting.
“What an incredible night,” Clinton said to the cheers of hundreds of supporters at her caucus night party at Drake University, as she appeared on stage with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and her daughter, Chelsea. “What a great campaign.”
With NBC and other news outlets waiting to declare a winner in the race, Clinton did not announce victory before departing the state for New Hampshire, where she will begin campaigning again Tuesday morning ahead of the state’s first-in-the nation primary February 9.
But her top supporter in the state, former Sen. Tom Harkin did it for her. “A win is a win,” Harkin said, “narrow, I know it is. We are coming out of here with a win and we are going to move ahead with Hillary Clinton.”
The Clintons were supposed to work a rope line, and Bill and Chelsea Clinton were expected to speak, but the program was cut short without a known winner. The campaign was in a rush to the airport with a blizzard heading for Iowa.
“I am a progressive that likes to get things done,” she said, emphasizing “am” of the line she often deploys on the stump.
The Democratic front-runner thanked former Governor Martin O’Malley, who dropped out of the race Monday night after failing to gain traction anywhere. “I wish Governor O’Malley the very best,” she said. ”He is a great public servant who has served our party and our country.”
Clinton said she was “really excited about really getting into the debate with Senator Sanders about what is the best way forward,” and added that the Democratic Party now has a rare opportunity “to have a real contest of ideas.”