It's Trump's fault!
Red-faced Iowa Democrats have zeroed in on a new culprit for the botched caucuses that may cost the Hawkeye State its time-honored role as the kickoff to presidential races. After first blaming an app for the inability to declare Monday night, a problem that still lingers even as frustrated candidates have packed up and moved on to New Hampshire for the nation's first primary, the state party is blaming the president's supporters.
Workers manning the phones in Iowa after the state's disastrous caucus on Monday reportedly claim that President Trump backers flooded the hotline number for precinct chairs that led to even more confusion and disarray.
Technical problems were blamed for an unprecedented delay from the contest. The Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) has faced bipartisan backlash and has seen calls for a change to the entire primary process.
Ken Sagar, a Democratic central committee member in the state, told a conference call Wednesday that on the night of the caucus, Trump backers were calling in to voice their support for the president, Bloomberg reported. Sagar was reportedly one of the people answering the calls.
The report was based on two participants from the conference call that was between IDP staff and the party's governing body. Sagar did not comment for the report. He did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News. The IDP did not confirm that Trump supporters were to blame when reached by Bloomberg and did not respond to an email from Fox News.
As of Wednesday night, Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor, led the Iowa race with 26.2 percent of delegates over the 26.1 percent in favor of Sanders, according to numbers released by the IDP.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren trailed with 18.2 percent and former Vice President Joe Biden was hovering in fourth with 15.8 percent, with 97 percent of the precincts reporting.
The fallout from Monday's trainwreck was swift. Top candidates worked quickly to get a positive message out to their supporters, even when there was no official count. Buttigieg, who needed a strong finish in Iowa, went a step further than his rivals by declaring victory.
“So we don't know the results. But we know. By the time it's all said and done, you have shocked the nation,” the former South Bend, Ind., mayor told his supporters. “Because, by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”
Senior Sanders adviser Jeff Weaver, meanwhile, told Fox News the campaign was "gratified that in the partial data released so far, it’s clear that in the first and second round, more people voted for Bernie than any other candidate in the field.”
Monday’s debacle invited fresh criticism about Iowa caucuses, a complicated set of political meetings staged in a state that is whiter and older than the Democratic Party in general. Many questioned anew whether it was a quaint political tradition whose time had passed.
"I think Iowa is a dumpster fire," said Dick Harpootlian, a South Carolina state senator and longtime Biden supporter, who served as an Iowa precinct captain for Biden on Monday.
Fox News' Louis Casiano, Gregg Re, Paul Steinhauser and The Associated Press contributed to this report