"I think when someone starts to look into Bernie Sanders' record, sure, things change. I think that hasn't happened," Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a Clinton backer, told CNN. "Look at the seven taxes he would raise to do single payer (health coverage). There are a lot of technical things that show a person's record that just haven't come out yet and I think later on there is room for that."
Feinstein and other Clinton congressional surrogates have a long list of Sanders' controversial but overlooked policy items they plan to highlight in the weeks ahead to demonstrate the self-described democratic socialist's record is too liberal to win the White House, a Democratic aide told CNN.
Multiple congressional Democrats backing Clinton admit that Sanders' near win in Iowa, and rise in the national polls took them somewhat by surprise, but instead of showing signs of panic they seem resigned to a longer two person nomination fight. They believe that younger voters attracted to Sanders' anti-Wall Street message will ultimately rally behind Clinton's candidacy because Republican candidates aren't emphasizing the same commitments to education and health care that Democrats are discussing on the campaign trail.
The Clinton campaign has conducted regular calls with supporters on Capitol Hill, has briefed members on longer term operations in states voting later in February and March, and is tapping into help from surrogates in key states.
Clinton's extensive network of supporters on Capitol Hill also is pointing to a more favorable election calendar in the weeks ahead they say will ensure she wins the Democratic nomination.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine predicted "the margin will be less than people think" in New Hampshire, and argued that Sanders' benefits from the order of the early voting states.
Kaine complimented Sanders' operation, but said the dynamic will shift when the contest moves on.
"Other than Vermont they (Iowa and New Hampshire) are his best two -- if you line up all 50 states in terms of who the Democratic electorate is, he got two of his best three right out of the gate. So I've said that if she goes one for one out of the first two that's a solid -- we'll call that a win," he said.
Kaine predicted the nomination fight would be all but over after all the results come in on Super Tuesday on March 1. He said Clinton would compile a lead in delegates giving her a clear a path to prevail.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said the road to the nomination is always bumpy and "rarely goes smoothly for any person" but predicted Clinton is positioned well for upcoming contests.
"Regardless of what happens in New Hampshire, I think the way that Secretary Clinton has organized her campaign, her talent, her message, that the nominating process and the close proximity of primaries coming up from now until June, give her the momentum she needs to get the nomination," Cardin said.
Senator Chuck Schumer, D-New York, waved off CNN's question about the fallout from a loss and prolonged fight saying only as he walked into an elevator on Capitol Hill, "Hillary is going to be our nominee."
The number two House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer, told reporters he already predicted last week that Sanders would win the New Hampshire primary and regardless of the early results confidently predicted she would be at the top of the ticket in the fall.
Hoyer downplayed the increasingly tough rhetorical lobs going back and forth between the Clinton and Sanders camps in recent days, instead turning the focus back to the GOP food fight, saying, "Ours is pretty tame compared to the other side in terms of negativity."