Iowa Caucuses: Hillary Clinton Breathes ‘Sigh of Relief’ as Bernie Sanders Declares ‘Virtual Tie’

PHOTO: Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. PlayMary Altaffer/AP Photo; Evan Vucci/AP Photo
WATCH Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucuses Too Close to Call

Locked in a tight race in the Iowa caucuses with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton told a packed house in Des Moines that she was “breathing a big sigh of relief.”

Minutes later, a beaming Sanders announced to an enthusiastic crowd, “Tonight, while the results are still not known, it looks like we are in a virtual tie.”

The Vermont senator congratulated his opponent for “waging a very vigorous campaign.” At her event, the former secretary of state announced she was “really excited” to debate with Sanders.

ABC News was unable to project a winner in the Iowa Democratic caucuses with the candidates separated by less than 1 percent, with 94 percent of the precincts reporting.

“I congratulate my opponents,” Clinton said at her event, adding. “I am excited about really getting into the debate with Sen. Sanders about this best way forward to fight for America.”

Both Clinton and Sanders took time to acknowledge their former opponent Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor who suspended his presidential campaign after a disappointing showing in Iowa on Monday night.

For their part, Republicans were celebrating the tight race on the Democratic side with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus calling Iowa a defeat for Clinton.

“Tonight was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster for Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party,” he said in a statement. “The Democrat establishment wanted a coronation for Clinton but is now facing the very real prospect that a self-proclaimed socialist could be their party’s nominee.”

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