DES MOINES, Iowa — When Senator Bernie Sanders finally took the stage at his caucus night party, the festive and anxious crowd roared with applause, hardly letting the candidate finish a sentence.
“Tonight, while the results are still not known, it looks like we are in a virtual tie,” Sanders said before being drowned out by an ecstatic audience in the Airport Holiday Inn.
It was four hours after the event--around 3:40 A.M. Tuesday morning-- that the Iowa Democratic Party and NBC News declared Clinton the apparent winner of the caucuses. Clinton edged out Sanders in the closest Iowa Democratic caucus contest in history.
But Sanders was not there to chart a new course, declare victory, or dwell on the battle he’d just finished waging. Instead, he kept to his well-known stump, preaching economic inequality and campaign finance reform.
The crowd ate it up.
“What the American people have said…is we can no longer continue to have a corrupt campaign finance system!” Sanders said, his voice growing horse among the ear reverberating cheers.
“I’m very proud to tell you we’re the only candidate on the Democratic side without a super PAC," he said.
And when Sanders defined his “political revolution” as people coming together to "say loudly and clearly, enough is enough,” the crowd chanted along in near unison.
Sanders speech last night sounded exceptionally similar to his campaign announcement, where he first laid out his now well-known position statements.
“Today, with your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally,” said Sanders at his May announcement rally in Burlington, Vermont.
Adding, “Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly that 'enough is enough.'"
While often criticized for rarely varying his message on the campaign trail, his refusal to stray from his core issues has not hurt him. Instead, it has unearthed a groundswell of supporters that is posing a serious challenge against Clinton.
Randi Spencerberg, a Democrat from the small city of Decorah, Iowa was undecided on who she would caucus for until Sunday night. And on Monday morning she told NBC News that she would back Sanders for his consistency, especially on the issue of money’s influence in politics.
“I believe Bernie Sanders is the only major candidate who will make a sincere, no-hols-barred attempt to change this. Hillary has benefited too much from the status quo and for too long,” Spencerberg said.
After speaking with several Sanders supporters across Iowa, consistency was cited as a main factor differentiating the two remaining Democratic candidates.
In September 2015, Clinton told CNN that she pleads “guilty” when accused of "being kind of moderate and center.”
So when Secretary Clinton’s final caucus speech started playing in the Sanders after party, one line stood out to his hundreds of fans.
“I am a progressive!” Clinton said as her husband, former president Bill Clinton, stood over her shoulder.
The Sanders crowd booed.