26/09/2020

Presidential candidates blitz Granite State in final bid to energize supporters and win over independents

NASHUA, N.H.The Democratic presidential candidates blitzed the Granite State in a final bid to energize supporters and win over independent voters who could sway the outcome of Tuesdays first-in-the-nation primary.Former Mayor
Pete Buttigieg
of South Bend, Ind., sought to turn an attack on his experience by
Joe Biden
into an advantage by rallying supporters to his defense in the final countdown to the New Hampshire primary that polls show is a battle between him and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for the top spot. Messrs. Sanders and Buttigieg are leading in a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV/Suffolk University poll of New Hampshire Democratic voters released over the weekend. Mr. Sanders held at 24% and Mr. Buttigieg slipped by three points to 22%. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who had been expected to do well as a candidate from neighboring Massachusetts, polled at 13% and Mr. Biden at 10% in that survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. A CBS poll released Sunday found the same rankings.
The New Hampshire primary has taken on heightened importance in the wake of last weeks chaotic Iowa caucuses, which were marred by a three-day delay in reporting the full results that ended with essentially a tie between Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Sanders.
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Late Sunday, the Iowa Democratic Party released updated totals that showed Mr. Buttigieg projected to win 14 delegates to Julys national convention in Milwaukee, while Mr. Sanders would get 12. Mr. Sanders won the raw vote.
The Sanders campaign will submit a request for a partial re-canvass to the Iowa Democratic Party, an aide said Sunday.
New Hampshire presents its own challenges. Registered Democrats and Republicans must vote in their own primaries. However, statewide, 42.4% of voters list themselves as undeclared, data from the secretary of states office show, and can choose to cast a ballot in either primary. 
President Trump is facing only token opposition in the Republican primary, so the Democratic race is the only show in town, said Bill Shaheen, a party strategist and husband of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.)
After a mostly collegial campaign in Iowa, the close contest in New Hampshire is featuring sharper elbows.
The Biden campaign released an online video ad Saturday mocking Mr. Buttigiegs achievements as insubstantial next to his work as vice president, including passing the Affordable Care Act and negotiating the Iran nuclear deal. Meanwhile, the ad notes, Mr. Buttigiegs local achievements include installing colorful lights under park bridges and decorative brick in downtown South Bend.
Were electing a president. What youve done matters, the ad says.
Speaking to an audience here Sunday afternoon that Mr. Buttigiegs campaign said totaled more than 1,800, the former mayor alluded to Mr. Bidens attacks against him.
As some folks would say, what business does a mayor have running for president? You dont have an office in Washington, D.C., you dont have decades of establishment experience, youre not even from one of the biggest cities in the United States, he said. To which I say, thats very much the point. We need to bring new voices to Washington, D.C.
Mr. Buttigiegs newcomer status and plain-spoken style have caught fire with some party activists who have said they see similarities with the former President Obama who broke out in the 2008 Democratic primary. That sentiment has prompted Mr. Biden to assert that his opponent is no
Barack Obama.
In response, Mr. Buttigieg on Sunday quipped: Well, hes right. Im not. And neither is he.
Mr. Buttigiegs outreach to independents and Republicans is the most overt among the top-tier candidates. His campaign Sunday said it would spend six-figures on a digital advertising campaign in counties that flipped from Mr. Obama in 2012 to Mr. Trump in 2016 in seven states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maine, North Carolina and Virginia.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota played up her bipartisan credentials before a packed room in Manchester. The crowd erupted into cheers as she praised
Sen. Mitt Romney
(R., Utah) for voting to convict Mr. Trump in the Senate impeachment trial as an example of courage and leadership.
You know the world is upside down when a Democratic crowd is cheering the former Republican nominee for president, Ms. Klobuchar quipped.
Ms. Klobuchar, who raised $2.5 million in the 24 hours after the Democratic debate on Friday, drew the largest crowds her campaign has seen in New Hampshire on Sunday. At her events, she also made a direct pitch to voters unaffiliated with any party, noting the importance of their role in Democratic primaries in the state. I think thats so important to our democracy, she said.
Arthur Cohen, a 66-year-old lawyer and independent who attended Ms. Klobuchars event in Manchester, said he liked her message of moderation and bipartisanship, but he is still weighing his options.
Mr. Cohen said there is a 50% chance that Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Biden or Mr. Buttigieg could convince him to vote in the Democratic primary. But he is looking for the moderate candidates to acknowledge that the president has done at least some good things for the country, despite his rhetoric. I dont think its helpful to have them criticize every single thing the president does, he said.
New Hampshires independents arent synonymous with moderates.
In 2016, they helped propel Mr. Sanders to a double-digit victory over
Hillary Clinton.
Exit polls showed that Mr. Sanders won 72% of independent voters compared with Mrs. Clintons 27%.
During Friday nights debate in Manchester, Mr. Sanders echoed the antiestablishment rhetoric that rallied unaffiliated voters to his cause four years ago while attacking Mr. Buttigieg for attending large-dollar fundraisers.
If you want to change America…youre not going to do it by electing candidates who are going out to rich peoples homes begging for money, Mr. Sanders said.
Tuesdays primary could prove critical for Mr. Biden, who has faced questions about the future of his candidacy following his setback in Iowa. He may have raised new questions on Sunday in Hampton, N.H., with a hard-to-interpret remark that went viral.
A young woman asked him to explain his loss in Iowa. The former vice president asked her if she had ever been to a caucus. When she said she had, Mr. Biden said, youre a lying dog-faced pony soldier, drawing laughter from the crowd. His campaign later said it was a reference to a line in a movie that starred John Wayne and he meant it in jest.
Mr. Biden went on to acknowledge that Messrs. Sanders and Buttigieg had stronger organizations in Iowa but African-American voters were still supporting him. He also made the case that he remained the best candidate to help the party win in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida.
Mr. Sanders also emphasized the importance of winning in November. He is trying to divide us up, Mr. Sanders said Sunday of Mr. Trump. We are going to bring our people together, black and white and Latino and Native American, Asian American, gay and straight around an agenda that works for all of us, not just for one person.
—Tarini Parti in Manchester, N.H., and Chad Day in Hanover, N.H., contributed to this article.
Write to Sabrina Siddiqui at Sabrina.Siddiqui@wsj.com, John McCormick at mccormick.john@wsj.com and Ken Thomas at ken.thomas@wsj.com
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