HANOVER, N.H. (Reuters) – Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden got here to New Hampshire this weekend drawing contrasts to his rivals and touting himself because the candidate finest positioned to beat President Donald Trump in November 2020.
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden talks with a lady exterior Lindy’s Diner in Keene, New Hampshire, U.S., August 24, 2019. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
Biden crisscrossed the state on 4 completely different marketing campaign stops from Hanover to Keene on Friday and Saturday earlier than attending a fundraiser in New York Metropolis. The journey was classic Biden: folksy anecdotes, numerous handshakes and some gaffes.
The Biden crowds, comparatively small and older, mentioned they’re exhausted by Trump. They see Biden as a unifier whose expertise can deliver some much-needed normalcy to the White Home, and the previous vp’s largest applause traces got here when preaching that unity.
“The president has determined to be president for his base. I shall be a president for each American. Individuals know who Donald Trump is; we have to allow them to know we’re,” Biden mentioned to massive applause at an occasion at Keene State Faculty in Keene, New Hampshire.
New Hampshire is a crucial state for Biden, who might doubtlessly clear the sphere if he might pull off a win right here and Iowa, the primary two major exams subsequent 12 months, mentioned Phillip Barker, a political scientist at Keene State Faculty. However, Barker added, Biden might survive shedding the Granite State, not like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who hail from neighboring states.
“A win in New Hampshire and Iowa for Biden would make him an especially formable candidate, however he has the cash and title recognition to outlive,” Barker mentioned.
The tour, which got here as most of his rivals attended the get together’s annual convention in California, marked his fourth go to to the state since saying his bid for president in April, and he vowed to return a lot that individuals could quickly get bored with seeing him.
Biden holds a commanding lead over the big Democratic discipline in most nationwide polls, however his progressive rivals Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, and Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, are working shut behind in New Hampshire.
Biden got here into New Hampshire with lingering questions on his capability to energise the get together, notably its progressive wing that views him – and his insurance policies – as anachronistic.
Biden advised a crowd at Dartmouth Faculty that his healthcare plan – which preserves the preferred elements of Obamacare and builds on them with a brand new government-run public insurance coverage possibility – prices roughly $740 billion, not the multi-trillion greenback price ticket of a few of his opponents who’re pushing Medicare for All plans.
He additionally mentioned he offers employees choices, not ultimatums.
“When you’ve got a plan that’s already working, you might be in entitled to maintain it. If you’re not happy, you’ll have a public possibility,” Biden mentioned.
Reuters spoke to roughly 25 attendees on the marketing campaign occasions, and the overwhelming majority mentioned the most important draw to Biden was his electability.
Invoice Swinburne, a 76-year-old psychiatrist from Marlborough, New Hampshire, mentioned he personally prefers Warren but when the election have been held now he would pull the lever for Biden.
“I simply don’t suppose Warren can win the Midwest states. The Republicans are going to model her a socialist,” Swinburne mentioned.
Biden on Saturday strolled into Lindy’s Diner – a marketing campaign cease staple in Keene the place he ate a grilled cheese sandwich and milkshake – and took a seat with Molly Lane, a 67-year-old retired non-profit employee.
She hugged him and mentioned, “It’s essential hustle and get Trump out of the White Home.” Biden replied, “I’m making an attempt.”
Afterwards, Lane spoke to reporters and mentioned, “I hugged him; he didn’t hug me,” a nod to criticism about Biden’s historical past of being “touch-feely” that has come underneath new scrutiny within the #MeToo period.
Biden took an odd detour on the finish of his first occasion on Friday when he famous his political heroes, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, have been assassinated and requested college students if they might think about if Barack Omaba met the identical destiny.
Biden was requested his feeling about New Hampshire and the city of Keene exterior Lindy’s Diner on Saturday, and he appeared to neglect the place he was.
“What’s to not love about Vermont when it comes to the great thing about it? I imply that is type of a scenic, lovely city,” Biden advised reporters.
Whereas the gaffes have lengthy been a part of Biden’s legacy, at age 76, they elevate new questions on his health for workplace for some voters. A number of individuals interviewed on the rallies mentioned they have been attending as a result of they needed to see him in individual to evaluate his crispness and vitality.
“Age is definitely a problem, and I believe he wants to indicate he’s up for the job presently,” Al Cirone, 71, mentioned whereas ready in line for a Biden occasion on Friday. Cirone mentioned Biden was his best choice, citing his expertise and extra average stance.
Biden was requested by a reporter on Saturday if his age must be a priority. He replied, “I say in the event that they’re involved, don’t vote for me.”
Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Modifying by Lisa Shumaker