Flashing signs, cheering fans as Dems make NH closing pitch

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Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick speaks during the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The battle for momentum in New Hampshire, for at least one night, came down to how expressive fans in the cheap seats could be.

Democrats made an effort to project an aura of unity at a party dinner Saturday designed to pump up the party base and each campaign's core supporters three days ahead of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

But there was little love between supporters of Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, the leading delegate winners in Iowa's caucuses. One side stared down the other as their candidates tried to build off the momentum delivered to them by results that remained muddled.

Buttigieg, who spoke first before the dinner crowd of thousands of Democrats, encountered loud chants of “Wall Street Pete" and “Medicare for All" from Sanders supporters making their presence known with blinking pink “Bernie” signs. Buttigieg's supporters, in yellow T-shirts and armed with noisemakers, began loud chants of “Boot-Edge-Edge” and waved blue and yellow signs as Sanders declared victory in the Iowa, citing the popular vote.

The Associated Press has not called a winner in the contest, but Buttigieg and Sanders were leading, and both have taken on strength in recent days.

Flashing signs, noisemakers and color-coordinated outfits filled the hockey arena hosting the event, with Elizabeth Warren's and Buttigieg's campaigns packing in the most supporters. Sanders' contingent, while smaller, made its presence known early on by chanting repeatedly over Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the state's senior elected official, as she spoke.

Beyond their barbs at Buttigieg, Sanders' supporters were quiet or applauding during most other candidates' remarks. Amy Klobuchar even played along during her remarks, turning to the Sanders section and saying, “Hi, Bernie people!”

When Sanders took the stage, he acknowledged his supporters directly. “I see more enthusiasm over here than over there,” he said, gesturing to his supporters over Warren's.