He spent Tuesday morning hedging.
A series of caucus night snafus meant the Iowa Democratic Party was unable to release any results, even hours after the caucuses had ended. Several candidates filled the void with cautious optimism. Buttigieg was a bit more brazen.
“By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious,” he told supporters in a soaring late-night speech. “Tonight, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality.”
He did acknowledge “we don’t know all the results,” but then doubled down on the victory message: “Iowa, you have shocked the nation.”
Hours later, Buttigieg tapped the brakes in an interview with CNN’s John Berman.
“You said, ‘By all indications we’re going on to New Hampshire victorious,’” Berman pointed out during the Tuesday morning appearance. “By all indications — except the actual official count. How can you declare victory without actual official numbers?”
Buttigieg answered by reframing “victory” as an “extraordinary” show of support from “rural areas, suburban areas and urban areas,” based on the campaign’s internal reporting.
“A year ago I think a lot of people were even questioning what right we had to do this and to make the attempt,” he said. “So it’s clearly a victory for us, even as we, along with the whole country, impatiently wait for some results from the party.”
“I understand declaring a moral victory, or beating expectations, or being surprised you even got this far,” Berman replied. “But why not wait to hear for sure?”
Buttigieg again demurred, and returned to his claim that the real win is momentum from “an extraordinary night that is propelling us toward a win in New Hampshire.”