New Hampshire does not usually play the role of the undercard. But for the 2020 campaign, the first-in-the-nation primary state is focusing more on the lower-tier Democratic presidential candidates than for three of its top contenders.
Democratic voters have seen former Maryland Congressman John Delaney or Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who recently ended her presidential run on any given day more than former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Sen. Kamala Harris of California.
Everything changes when the 2020 field descends on Manchester for the state Democratic Party’s convention as the entire campaign becomes more specific and intense, on Saturday. Several run-on candidates also took part in this to get better recognition and elevate themselves. “From my perspective, both Biden and Bernie are more counting on their name recognition than the retail politics that we’re known for here in New Hampshire,” said Sabina Chen, the chairwoman of the Pelham Democrats.
The chairwoman of the Greater Ossipee Democrats, Patricia Pustell said that it is time for new blood and new leadership and a new approach. “I think (Biden’s) coming back to save us and he doesn’t need to save us,” Pustell said. “We have enough people that can do this job.”
In the entire history of New Hampshire, front runners have been humiliated and denied. Walter Mondale, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton were each denied victory in the New Hampshire primary in the years they ended up to become a Democratic nominee.
No winning candidate from New Hampshire Democratic primary has gone on to capture both the party nomination and the presidency, since 1976, the year Democrat Jimmy Carter won the state’s primary. The democrats for New Hampshire say endorsements for 2020 contenders have come steadily this cycle, in part because of the large field and lingering tensions from the fractious primary between Sanders and Clinton.
“The last time around there was so much of an argument between the Sanders campaign with the Clinton campaign, that I think a lot of people are being careful to not seem like they’ve committed too early,” said Deb Bacon Nelson, chairwoman of the Hanover/Lyme town Democrats, who promoted Clinton extensively in 2016.
Praising New Hampshire Biden lavishly said that in his visits since announcing his presidential run, though his events have been marked by a series of miscues, most recently when he went off-script during an event in Hanover in August by raising the question of what might have happened in America if Obama had been assassinated during his presidential campaign in 2008.
Still, he has a solid base of support.
“He is the best candidate to beat Trump,” Tom Goins, a 67-year-old voter from Walpole, said of Biden. “He’s moderates enough to appeal to the broad masses. I think some of the other candidates have great ideas, but I think they’re a little bit too polarizing.”
(With inputs from AP)