Buttigieg: “New Hampshire is not the kind of place to let Iowa or anybody else tell you what to do.”
This is a busy, amazing week. I’m in New Hampshire. I pivoted to covering the 2020 primary here a few hours after wrapping up 13 days of writing about President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
I start in New Hampshire with Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg coming out of last Tuesday’s Iowa caucus in the best shape — even though the results in the counting debacle are not official yet.
Joe Biden has the most to lose. As I’m writing this I just got a Biden campaign email with the expectation-lowering subject line: “I’m not going anywhere.”
There is a debate in Manchester on Friday night, and Sanders, the Vermont senator; Buttigieg, the ex-South Bend mayor; and Biden, the former vice president will be joined on the stage by Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts; and former business executives Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire who is skipping the early states, looms as a formidable contender. His multimillion-dollar spending on staff and ads resulted in the Democratic National Committee changing its rules to give him a spot at the next debate Feb. 19 in Nevada.
There are four states with the initial presidential votes in February — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
The first week of primary balloting was supposed to speed the winnowing of an outsized field of candidates and showcase Democrats’ readiness to take back the White House in November. But an embarrassing meltdown in the Iowa caucus vote count, and a dismal showing by Joe Biden, once seen as the safest choice to unseat the Republican incumbent, have only heightened fears among some Democrats that their party isn’t up to the task.
The early strength of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the liberal stalwart who has vowed to upend American healthcare and go after corporations and the wealthy, has some voters worried that Democrats will blow their chance to unseat an unpopular president if the party veers too far to the left.
Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary may do little to dispel the collective unease or help bridge the deep ideological split between the party’s liberal and moderate wings. Several recent polls showed the top two vote-getters in Iowa - Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg - as the favorites in New Hampshire.