How crucial is New Hampshire win? It depends on whom you ask

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden flexes his arm along with Jaime Karnilaw of Concord, N.H., as they pose for a photograph at a campaign stop at Gilford Community Church, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in Gilford, N.H.

In the waning hours before New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary voting begins, Democratic presidential candidates took varied approaches to the expectations game Monday as they look to advance deeper into what could be an extended nominating fight.

Bernie Sanders showed the same confidence he displayed ahead of last week’s Iowa caucuses, which ended with a split decision between the Vermont senator and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana. “If we win here tomorrow, I think we’ve got a path to victory for the Democratic nomination,” Sanders declared in Rindge.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, once the national front-runner, tamped down expectations amid prospects of a second consecutive disappointment before the race turns to more racially diverse states he believes can restore his contender status. “This is just getting started,” he told CBS.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren fell somewhere between those approaches, vowing to make a comeback but not predicting victory. “Look, I’ve been counted down and out for much of my life,” Warren told reporters. “You get knocked down. You get back up.”

Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the biggest surprises of the 2020 contest so far, looked to extend their rides despite uncertainty about what’s ahead for two campaigns with overwhelmingly white bases.

The scramble highlights a perilous point for Democrats as they look for a challenger to President Donald Trump in November. No would-be nominee has yet forged a strong coalition across the party’s racial, ethnic and ideological factions. The situation is muddled further by the vote-tabulation melee in last week’s Iowa caucuses that left both Sanders and Buttigieg claiming victory, even as neither reached 30% of the vote in a fractured field.

Trump, meanwhile, is eager to cast a shadow over the entire Democratic slate as he heads to Manchester for a Monday evening rally to continue his victory-and-vengeance tour following Senate votes that acquitted him on two impeachment charges. Trump lost New Hampshire in 2016 by fewer than 3,000 votes out of more than 743,000 cast, and the state is among several his reelection campaign believes it can flip in November.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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