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    U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) places her hand over her heart during the National Anthem at the 30th annual Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa, in this September 16, 2007 file photo

    Iowa Chooses Winners in First Round of US Presidential Campaign

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    US Presidential candidates from both political parties clashed in a tight fight into early Tuesday at the 2016 Iowa caucuses in their bid to become party nominees and eventually capture the US presidency.

    DES MOINES (Sputnik) – Marking the start of the nomination process, the battle on the Republican side finished with victory for Senator Ted Cruz trailed by businessman Donald Trump, while a winner in the Democratic party is yet to be announced as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders remain separated by only 0.1 percent.

    Cruz won the Republican Iowa caucus on 27.7 percent followed by Trump with 24.3 percent, and Senator Marco Rubio with 23.1 percent accordingly, with 99 percent of the votes counted.

    Clinton, with 49.9 percent, is narrowly ahead of Sanders on 49.6 percent, with the final count yet to be announced.

    Tight Race for Both Parties

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was holding on to a slim lead of less than 1 percent over Senator Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses on Monday night.

    Sanders closed the difference several times to 0.2 percent.

    The battle was not easier on the Republican side. Senator Marco Rubio came third trailing close behind businessman Donald Trump with only 1.2 percent of votes between them.

    Coming in second, despite being tipped to win the Iowa caucus, Trump told his supporters in Des Moines that he would still go on to secure the Republican US presidential nomination.

    "I think we're going to be proclaiming victory I hope," Trump said. "We will go on to get the Republican nomination and we will go on to beat Hillary [Clinton] or Bernie [Sanders]" in the November 2016 national election.

    Rubio said of his third place finish that the Republican Party would galvanize behind a moderate, young leader and will go on to defeat Clinton in the national polls.

    Rubio ran well ahead of his previous mentor, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who only gained 2.8 percent of the vote and came in sixth among the Republican candidates.

    One Les Candidate for Each Party

    Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has suspended his 2016 bid for the US presidency. O’Malley received 0.6 percent of the Democratic caucus vote.

    O’Malley served as Mayor of Baltimore in 1999-2007 before being elected Governor of Maryland, a post he quit in January, 2015.

    In 2007, O’Malley supported Clinton as a Democratic nominee for the 2008 US presidential election, which was eventually won by Barack Obama.

    Former Arkansas Governor Republican Mike Huckabee has also withdrawn his presidential bid following the Iowa caucus. Huckabee received 1.8 percent of the caucus vote.

    Huckabee was the 44th Governor of Arkansas, serving in that position from 1996 until 2007. He also served as Chairman of the US National Governors Association in 2005-2006.

    In 2005, Huckabee was named one of the Time magazine’s top five most effective governors of the United States.

    Iowa Caucuses Launch Official Start of 2016 US Presidential Nomination Race

    The 2016 US presidential nomination race officially kicked off on February 1 with the first in the nation Iowa caucuses where several hundred thousand Iowans voted to select the Democratic and Republican parties’ nominees for the US presidency.

    The caucuses began on Monday at 7 p.m. Central Time (01:00 GMT Tuesday).

    Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann told reporters on Monday night that a record number of Republican voters, at least 180,000, took part in the 2016 caucuses.

    Democratic numbers were not tallied completely, but the Des Moines Register said all indications pointed to a "robust" turnout.


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