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Sanders Needed New Hampshire Victory To Prove His Campaign's Viability


And now to the candidate you heard Donald Trump congratulate right there - Bernie Sanders. He had a huge win over Hillary Clinton yesterday, as NPR's Ailsa Chang reports. It was a victory Sanders needed to prove the viability of his campaign.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: This time, there was no talk of virtual ties or coin flips. This was a drubbing. The race was called just minutes after all the polls had closed.


BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you, New Hampshire.


CHANG: Not that long ago, the prevailing wisdom was Bernie Sanders would never reach this moment.


SANDERS: Nine months ago, we began our campaign here in New Hampshire. We had no campaign organization. We had no money. And we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America.

CHANG: Sanders' ability to connect with the economic anxieties of working-class voters in New Hampshire and appeal to the hope of its young voters helped deliver his win against Hillary Clinton. But he took care not to gloat and pointed out there's a larger goal at stake.


SANDERS: We will need to come together in a few months and unite this party and this nation because the right-wing Republicans we oppose must not be allowed to gain the presidency.

CHANG: But what comes down the road didn't seem to be on the minds of many Sanders supporters. For them, this moment right now was the validation they've needed for a while. All right, I see you guys hugging and crying. What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Take it away, Monica.

MONICA JOHNSON: It's been a long six months. And it's like it's all worth it today.

CHANG: Monica Johnson of Manchester had been tired of hearing from all the detractors while volunteering on Sanders' campaign.

JOHNSON: It's been a really, like, big uphill battle coming from when no one really saw Bernie as having a chance. And tonight, he showed the country and the world that he can do it - that he does have the support of the people.

CHANG: But how widespread will that support be? As Sanders heads to Nevada and South Carolina, his campaign hopes the momentum gained in New Hampshire will mean more media coverage and donations. But he'll have to figure out a way to draw in the African-American and Hispanic vote, where Clinton has a big lead now. Jim Taddeo of Nashua says he's not worried. Voters in those groups just have to meet Sanders.

JIM TADDEO: Once people start to know who he is, they like him. You know, they say in politics to get rid of corruption you need to expose it to people - shine some sunlight on it. When sunlight shines on this guy, he grows. He's like a plant.

CHANG: Look what happened in New Hampshire, Taddeo says. It's a state where politics is conducted face to face, in people's living rooms. It's personal here. And after meeting so many people up close, he said, Sanders won big. Ailsa Chang, NPR News, Manchester, New Hampshire. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.

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