By Kristina Rex

NASHUA, NH (CBS) — After winning the delegate count in the Iowa caucuses, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg came in second place in the New Hampshire primaries, losing by only two percentage points to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Buttigieg saw a surge in New Hampshire in the last week, finishing quite a few percentage points higher than anticipated just a couple weeks ago.

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In a speech to about 1,200 supporters at Nashua Community College Tuesday night, Buttigieg thanked them and congratulated his competitors, saying he has admired and respected Sanders since he was in high school.

Buttigieg reiterated some of the campaign speech he has been giving in New Hampshire for the last week, saying “so many of you turned out—die-hard Democrats, Independents unwilling to stay on the sidelines, and even some newly former Republicans, ready to vote for something new.”

He thanked New Hampshire voters specifically, saying “here in a state that goes by the motto ‘Live Free or Die,’ you made up your own minds. You asserted that famous independent streak. And thanks to you, a campaign that some said shouldn’t be here at all, has shown that we are here to stay!”

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In a one-on-one interview with WBZ-TV Tuesday afternoon, Buttigieg said he knows he is heading into uncharted territory in Nevada and South Carolina, noting that they are significantly more racially diverse than Iowa or New Hampshire, which are both among the whitest states in the US.

A major critique of the 38-year-old’s campaign has been his struggle to gain support from black voters, and he told WBZ he plans on reaching out to communities and people of color in the states to come throughout the primary process.

The close race between Sanders and Buttigieg so far illustrates a split in Democratic voters, between those looking for a progressive candidate like Sanders and those looking for someone more moderate like Buttigieg. Both candidates say their stances make them the most likely to beat President Donald Trump in the general election.

After Pete Buttigieg finished his speech in Nashua, he was joined on the stage by his husband and his mother, who waved and thanked supporters.

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Leading up to the New Hampshire primary, Buttigieg was in second place in the latest WBZ/Boston Globe/Suffolk University tracking poll. Bernie Sanders was in first, Amy Klobuchar in third, with Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren in a tight race for fourth and fifth place.

Kristina Rex