Buttigieg calls for Dem unity following strong showing in New Hampshire primary

Pete Buttigieg celebrated on Tuesday night after emerging as a close second in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary – and pulling in the same number of delegates as the winner, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., continued his primary success streak Tuesday after narrowly pulling in the most delegates in last week's controversial Iowa caucuses.

“Here in a state that goes by the motto ‘live free or die,’ you made up your own mind,” Buttigieg said to supporters Tuesday night inside the gymnasium of Nashua Community College. “You asserted your famous independent streak and, thanks to you, a campaign that some people said shouldn’t be here at all showed that we’re here to stay.”

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The New Hampshire vote made clear that the early days of the Democratic contest will be a battle largely between two men who are four decades apart in age and are ideological opposites.

Sanders is a leading progressive voice, calling for a substantial government intervention in health care and other sectors of the economy. Buttigieg has pressed for more incremental changes, giving Americans the option of retaining their private health insurance and making a point of appealing to Republicans and independents who may be dissatisfied with President Trump.

Echoing the remarks of one of his primary rivals, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, from earlier in the evening, Buttigieg spent his time on stage pushing for unity among Democrats, while attacking President Trump’s policies on issues ranging from Medicare to foreign policy.

“We are on the same team,” Buttigieg said after congratulating Sanders on his victory in the Granite State.

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Buttigieg added: "This is our chance, our only chance, not just to end the era of Donald Trump, but to start the era that comes next…We cannot miss the mark."

Buttigieg’s comments come following a week where he faced the harshest criticism he’s yet received from his Democratic rivals, with former Vice President Joe Biden releasing a scathing television ad slamming the former South Bend mayor’s lack of experience and in a later interview,  calling into question Buttigieg’s appeal among African American voters.

Sanders went after Buttigieg during last Friday’s debate for taking contributions from the very wealthy and suggesting he won't stand up to “Wall Street tycoons” or “the corporate elite.” And despite her call for unity on Tuesday evening, Warren echoed Sanders’ comments during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” where she said that “the coalition of billionaires is not exactly what's going to carry us over the top."

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His strong showing in Iowa and New Hampshire – and the volley of criticism that comes with his rise – will now follow Buttigieg as he moves on his campaign to Nevada and South Carolina – the two early voting states with a dramatically more racially diverse population than Iowa and New Hampshire. Biden is hoping to draw in his support among black voters to pull off his first primary win in South Carolina, while Sanders hopes his appeal with Latino voters will help him carry Nevada’s caucuses.

Buttigieg, however, seemed to be already looking ahead to the next primary states, telling supporters Tuesday evening that his campaign is ready to “welcome new allies.”

“Our campaign moves on to Nevada, to South Carolina, to communities across our country,” he said. “And we will welcome new allies to our movement at every step.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.