DES MOINES: The US Democratic Party was unable to provide results from the Iowa state caucuses on Tuesday despite spending millions of dollars, owing to what it called a technical glitch and President Donald Trump called incompetence.
Republicans led by Trump gloated over the setback, and candidates who normally rely on the Midwestern state’s caucuses for momentum as the primary season unfolds were denied that bounce.
With newspapers unable to run headlines declaring a winner in the first in the nation vote, attention will soon turn elsewhere: to Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, which comes under the cloud of his impeachment but all but certain acquittal in the Senate on Wednesday.
Filling the void, two candidates gave quasi victory speeches after voting concluded on Monday night —leftist Senator Bernie Sanders and young moderate Pete Buttigieg.
Iowa is a closely-watched test in the months-long process to determine who will face Trump in November.
In a statement read on US networks, Mandy McClure, communications director at the Iowa Democratic Party, said further checks were ordered after “inconsistencies” were found in the reporting of three sets of results.
“This is simply a reporting issue,” she said, not “a hack or an intrusion”. US officials are under pressure to demonstrate the integrity of the voting system following 2016, when Russia was accused of interfering in the presidential election to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign counsel Dana Remus wrote to Iowa Democratic Party chair Troy Price blasting the “considerable flaws” encountered during the caucus.
“We believe that the campaigns deserve full explanations and relevant information regarding the methods of quality control you are employing, and an opportunity to respond, before any official results are released.” Trump called the Democrats incompetent.
“The Democrat caucus is an unmitigated disaster. Nothing works, just like they ran the country,” he wrote on Twitter.
Alluding to his own victory following Republican caucuses in the Midwestern farm state, Trump said “the only person that can claim a very big victory in Iowa last night is `Trump’”.
Buttigieg was quick to claim victory among Democrats.
Figures released by the Sanders campaign five hours after the caucuses opened across Iowa showed Buttigieg in second spot, a strong showing for the candidate who was essentially unknown just one year ago.
“Iowa you have shocked the nation,” the 38-year-old gay military reservist told cheering supporters in what sounded very much like a victory speech.
“Because tonight, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality.” Sanders, running as a democratic socialist, also took to the microphones to proclaim he had “a good feeling we’re going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa.”
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2020