Updated: 10:25 p.m.
Buoyed by a strong performance in last week’s debate Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar shook up the field in the hunt for the Democratic presidential nomination by finishing third in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday.
“We love you, New Hampshire,“ Klobuchar told a cheering crowd in Concord Tuesday night. “Because of you we are taking this campaign to Nevada. We are going to South Carolina, and we are taking this message of unity to the country.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders led Tuesday night's results and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg held second. Klobuchar’s strong showing puts her in competition with Buttegieg to be a more centrist alternative to Sanders in the contest for the nomination.
Klobuchar, who was in fifth place in the Iowa caucuses eight days earlier, placed ahead of both Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden in New Hampshire.
Klobuchar’s rise in the Granite State came quickly. Two weeks ago she was polling a distant fifth. But last Friday’s debate clearly energized her campaign with a jolt of fundraising energy and a surge in polls and people attending her events.
“Everyone had counted us out even a week ago — thank you pundits. I came back and we delivered,” Klobuchar said. “I never give up.”
Biden had been the early front-runner, but his fourth-place finish in Iowa and fifth-place finish in New Hampshire raised new questions about the durability of his campaign. And former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on TV ads, is also trying to position himself as an alternative to Sanders when more than a dozen states, including Minnesota, weigh in on the nomination on March 3.
How much further Klobuchar can go is still a big question. The first test will be the Nevada caucuses a week from Saturday. Then it’s South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states on March 3.
Her campaign said Tuesday night it has made a “seven-figure ad buy” in Nevada with two TV ads set to begin running there Wednesday.
Although Klobuchar says she raised more than $4 million in the past few days, all the other top candidates have raised more than she has over the past months. And as the race expands to multiple states her organization and her fundraising will be tested.
Like Buttigieg, Klobuchar has minimal support among black voters, according to public opinion polls. Black voters make up a large percentage of the Democratic coalition, and it’s unlikely Klobuchar can win the nomination without expanding support among that key constituency.
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