Hillary Clinton defeats Bernie Sanders to claim victory in Nevada caucus

Feb 20, 2016, 3:20 PM | Updated: 10:05 pm

Hillary Clinton is not “feeling the Bern:” the Democratic front-runner claimed victory over fellow presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucus on Saturday.

Late Saturday with 90 percent, or 1,538 of 1,714, precincts reporting, 53 percent of the vote (5,802) went to Clinton. Sanders earned 47 percent, or 5,228 votes.

The Associated Press called the Clinton victory at 3:15 p.m. MST.

“This is your campaign and it is a campaign to break down every barrier that holds you back,” she said. “We’re going to build ladders of opportunity in their place so every American can go as far as your hard work can take you.”

Though she never mentioned Sanders by name, Clinton cast her rival as offering a narrow economic message that wouldn’t tackle the full range of problems facing the country. Rattling off promises to lower student debt, reform the immigration system, combat systemic racism and improve education, Clinton promised a country of new opportunities.

“There’s so much more to be done,” she said. “The truth is we aren’t a single issue country. We need more than a plan for the big banks.”

Sanders said “the wind is at our backs” despite his loss to Clinton. He added that Clinton ran a very aggressive and effective campaign in Nevada that led to her victory in the Democratic caucuses Saturday.

He congratulated her for her victory and praised her effort.

But Sanders is suggesting he beat expectations because he started far behind Clinton and gained significant ground.

Sanders said he’s heading now to South Carolina and that he has an “excellent chance” to win many of the states voting on Super Tuesday.

Sanders said the election will result in one of the greatest political upsets in U.S. history.

Nevada’s Democratic party’s initial estimates are showing that 80,000 Democrats caucused on Saturday, about 10,000 more than most party insiders expected.

Still, it was well below the nearly 120,000 who showed up in 2008 for Clinton’s contest against Barack Obama.

The two Democratic presidential candidates have been neck-and-neck in the polls ever since the Iowa caucus in early February, when Clinton was declared the winner after the race was initially too close to call.

The victory was a necessary one for Clinton, who was heavily defeated by Sanders in the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9.

Aiming to appeal to minorities and unions in Nevada’s population center, Clinton focused on courting voters from the bustling city of Las Vegas while Sanders focused on barnstorming across the northern part of the state.

During the last Democratic debate in Milwaukee preceding Saturday’s caucus, Clinton tried to assure Democrats who worried about her ability to help the party hold onto the White House that she is still the best choice to succeed President Barack Obama.

Although her campaign strategies have been heavily criticized since her first presidential run in 2008, Clinton has introduced one man who may know a little something about presidency to her team: Bill Clinton.

The husband-wife political power have swept through campaigns in both Iowa and New Hampshire, highlighting Clinton’s goals in regard to foreign policy, health care and race relations.

The Democratic presidential front-runner’s campaign has been shook up by allegations that the former Secretary of State failed to provide security at a Libyan consulate that was later raided by Islamic militants, leading to the deaths of two American officials.

As a part of the investigation into the attacks, more than 5,500 pages of Clinton’s personal emails have been made public by the State Department since May of last year.

Clinton crammed last weekend’s schedule with a sandwich run in Chinatown and a roundtable discussion with young immigrants and their families.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Hillary Clinton defeats Bernie Sanders to claim victory in Nevada caucus