N.H. Primary Countdown Blog - Part 1: Candidates Barnstorm State To Close Deal With Voters | New Hampshire Public Radio

N.H. Primary Countdown Blog - Part 1: Candidates Barnstorm State To Close Deal With Voters

Feb 8, 2020

It's the final stretch before the first primary ballots will be cast in New Hampshire, and candidates are crisscrossing the state to make their final case to voters here. Bookmark this page for updates on what the candidates are up to in these final days, what Granite State voters are saying, and more.

Click here for Part 2 of our Primary Countdown Blog.

To find out where and when the candidates are appearing in New Hampshire, click here for our 2020 Candidate Tracker.

Related: Click here to see all of NHPR's Primary coverage, including issue explainers, candidate interviews, and more. Click here to listen to Stranglehold, NHPR's podcast about the New Hampshire Primary.

Thousands of Democrats filled the seats at the SNHU Arena in Manchester Saturday night to hear from the candidates.
Credit Maureen McMurray/NHPR

11:35 p.m.

The state Democratic Party hosted every major Democrat running in the New Hampshire primary at a Manchester dinner Saturday night, as the candidates continue to spend the weekend ratcheting up attacks on each other and reaching out to undecided voters across the state.

Andrew Yang takes the stage at the McIntyre-Shaheen event Feb. 8, 2020 in Manchester, N.H.
Credit Joe Amon/Connecticut Public/NENC

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar told the crowd of thousands of party loyalists that she's got what it takes to lead the fight against President Trump.  

"I don't have the biggest bank account,” Klobuchar said. “I'm not the tallest candidate in the race, but what I have is grit. Grit from a Minnesota blizzard. The grit you get from having a life, not an easy life, fighting and overcoming adversity."

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg urged the crowd to look forward and said he would usher in a new era for Democrats and the country.

“I am here, one more time, to ask you to join me, not only to end the era of Donald Trump, but to launch the era that must come next,” he said.

The fundraiser filled most of the SNHU Arena in downtown Manchester, with each candidates’ camp of supporters filling different sections of the stands.  A spokesperson wouldn't say what the party expected to raise from the event, but did predict it would be the party's single largest fundraiser ever.

-Josh Rogers

7:30 p.m.  

6:15 p.m.

Canvassers for Sen. Elizabeth Warren hit the streets and sidewalks of Manchester and surrounding towns Saturday.
Credit Sarah Gibson/NHPR

“I place a bet on you,” Elizabeth Warren told a crowd of nearly 800 in Manchester today. Many in the audience had come from out of state to canvas.

Jarred Johnson, of Boston, said he and his fellow Warren canvassers often passed crews from other campaigns going to the same houses.

“We ran into some Bernie canvassers, talked to a Buttigieg supporter who waved from their balcony,” Johnson said. “Everybody was like: ‘Cool, I see you.’ We might not be going for the same candidate but we appreciated each other being out there and participating in democracy.’”

Pablo Ruiz, of Belmont, Mass., was sporting a “Julian Castro for President” T-shirt and drinking coffee from an “Elizabeth Warren for Senate” mug. He said after Castro dropped out of the presidential race, he likely would have supported Warren anyway, but Castro’s endorsement was a nice bonus.

“People like to assume certain voting blocs might run with certain people,” he said, referring to the idea of the “Latino vote” in US.

Many canvassers coming in from the cold said many voters they encountered in Manchester will still undecided.

-Sarah Gibson

5:00 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is leading a canvass kick-off at the state employees union headquarters in Concord Saturday evening. The union is one of the state's largest and awarded Sanders its endorsement in January. 

A full house greeted Sen. Bernie Sanders at the SEA/SEIU union headquarters in Concord Saturday afternoon.
Credit Jason Moon/NHPR

Sanders told the crowd his campaign is off to a strong start and that after winning the popular vote in Iowa, he expects to win the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.

This event is just one in a string of canvass kick-offs and rallies Sanders is holding this weekend. Sanders says he needs to turn out young and working class voters in big numbers to be successful. To that end, he is largely targeting college campuses and lower-income neighborhoods across New Hampshire in the final days before the primary.

-Jason Moon

4:20

Andrew Yang makes a final pitch to a crowd of hundreds of voters at Nashua Community College. Photo by Annie Ropeik.

Credit Annie Ropeik | NHPR

3:20 p.m.  

A prescription drug price activist group and their T-Rex collect petition signatures in line at an Andrew Yang town hall in Nashua. Photo by Annie Ropeik.

Credit Annie Ropeik | NHPR

2:10 p.m.  

2:00 p.m.

Volunteers canvassing for Elizabeth Warren touch base before attending her campaign rally in Manchester. Photo by Sarah Gibson.  

Credit Sarah Gibson | NHPR

1:45 p.m.

In Manchester, Biden told voters that he never saw himself as the front runner in this race.

“Nothing in my life has been easy,” Biden said, invoking his childhood stutter and the loss of several family members, “and I’ll be damned if I am going to stand by and lose my county too.”

Biden also defended Obamacare.

“It’s time to get real about healthcare,” he bellowed, before describing his plan as one that can pass Congress, “and I can get it done right away."

“He won’t tell you how he’ll pay for it,” Biden noted of opponent Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan. “The middle class will pay for it,” he said.

Biden then hit Sanders on his votes against the Brady Bill and for voting to give gun manufacturers liability protection from lawsuits.

Biden also took aim at Pete Buttigieg.

“I do believe we are a party at risk If we nominate someone who's never held an office higher than the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.”

“I don't take the American black vote for granted,” Biden continued, “This is a diverse party. It's the reason why we are strong and we have to reflect that.”

- Josh Rogers

1:30 p.m.

Credit Jim Schachter | NHPR

Scenes from downtown Manchester, the epicenter of media and campaign activity in the final days before the primary. Photos by Jim Schachter.

12:40 p.m.

Credit Daniela Allee/NHPR

The Dartmouth College Democrats are doing a final voter outreach push in the last few days before Tuesday's primary.

Katie Smith and Arianna Khan wait for volunteers to come back from their shift.
Credit Daniela Allee | NHPR

Nearly 30 volunteers are hanging information about the election on undergrad dormitory rooms around campus today.

Several presidential candidates, including Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang, will be campaigning on or near campus over the weekend.

-Daniela Allee

11:45 a.m.

Former U.S. Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan introduced Joe Biden before a campaign event Saturday morning in Manchester.
Credit Josh Rogers/NHPR

A full house awaited Joe Biden at Manchester’s Rex Theater late this morning. Former Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan and former Gov. John Lynch introduced Biden. Kwan stressed Biden’s experience and Lynch talked up Biden’s humanity.

“He’s a good man, and I like him,” Lynch said.

Lynch also said he’s seen elections swing 10 to 15 points in their final days. It may take that for Biden to contend in New Hampshire.

Other Biden backers have been talking up a similar come-from-behind message. Earlier in the morning, former Secretary of State John Kerry, winner of the 2004 New Hampshire Democratic primary, addressed a dozen Biden volunteers heading out to canvass in Manchester. 

"New Hampshire is the comeback state, the turnaround state," Kerry told the group. "Anything can happen here."

-Josh Rogers

9:50 a.m.

Every major Democrat running in the New Hampshire primary will be in Manchester tonight to speak at state Democratic party fundraiser.

The McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner will give those vying in the New Hampshire primary the chance to address core party activists. The dinner is always the state Democratic party's biggest fundraiser, and it gets particularly big in a presidential election year.

This year, it's taking place at the SNHU arena. Candidates will address the crowd in the round, from a circular stage: one final chance to gather in one place prior to Tuesday's vote.

10:30 p.m.

Friday night, all eyes were on the Democratic presidential debate taking place inside an auditorium at St Anselm College. But outside was just as exciting.

Voters hold signs for Elizabeth Warren outside the final debate before the New Hampshire primary, held at St. Anselm College Friday.
Credit Sarah Gibson | NHPR

  

As the candidates prepared to go on stage, crowds of their supporters gathered at the campus’ main entrance to cheer, sing, wave signs, and more.

NHPR's Sarah Gibson was there. Click here for that story.

11:00 a.m.

NHPR's Jason Moon is covering Bernie Sanders in Manchester this morning. The Vermont Senator spoke at a Politics & Eggs event.   

"'Pete Buttigieg has most exclusive billionaire donors of any Democrat,'" Sanders said. "That was from Forbes. The Hill: 'Pete Buttigieg tops billionare donor list.' Fortune: 'Pete Buttigieg takes lead as big business candidate in 2020 Field."

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking at the N.H. Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College on Feb. 7, 2020.
Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Sanders went on to say that New Hampshire voters have a choice between Democratic candidates who support the working class, or those who represent powerful interests. He referenced pro-labor focus of Woody Guthrie, and quoted the name of one song, "Which side are you on?"

8:40 a.m.

NHPR's reporters are fanning the state today, following candidates and talking with voters on this final Friday before Primary Day. Click here for our Primary Tracker - a Google calendar featuring campaign events around the state. 

This morning, tune in to The Exchange for the Weekly Primary News Roundup. You can also watch that live here:

11:00 p.m.

Sen. Michael Bennet told voters in Brentwood Thursday evening they should nominate a candidate who can help Democrats win down-ballot races in swing states in the general election.

Sen. Michael Bennet told voters at a house party in Brentwood Thursday that he sees an opening for himself in New Hampshire after the muddled results from this week's Iowa Caucuses.
Credit Jason Moon | NHPR

“To make it very simple for all of you, I think if we nominate somebody who Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen can run with comfortably, we have a very good chance of winning,” Bennet said.

The Colorado senator argued a nominee who only excites the party's base won't be enough.

Bennet also said that the confused results out of Iowa have created an opening for him in New Hampshire.

“Some of the leading candidates did well, and other leading candidates didn't do as well as people might've thought, and I just think it creates room for somebody like me,” Bennet said.

Bennet has largely staked his campaign on outperforming expectations in New Hampshire. He says he's aiming to finish in the top four.

- Jason Moon

9:40 p.m.

Andrew Yang wrapped up a day of campaign events with a stop inside Exeter Town Hall Thursday night. Yang, a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, delivered his stump speech to a nearly full room.

After touting his plans for a universal basic income and a clamp down on money in politics, he told the audience that America is eroding as corporations grow unchecked.

Andrew Yang spoke to a full house at Exeter Town Hall Thursday evening.
Credit Todd Bookman/NHPR

“Exeter, these are the things we are supposed to value most in our lives: our kids, our families, our community, our democracy,” Yang said. “And they are getting zeroed out one by one by one. This is what we have to turn around.”

Yang urged the crowd to support him next Tuesday, calling himself a “native son” who is working to push the country in the right direction.

His campaign is looking for a better result in New Hampshire than Iowa, where he finished in sixth place.

He'll be on the stage in Friday night’s Democratic debate, at St. Anselm College.

-Todd Bookman

8:50 p.m.

Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, flew to New Hampshire Thursday night to encourage supporters of President Trump to vote in Tuesday's Republican primary.

“Whatever you’re doing, we need you to do more,” Pence told the crowd of about 150 people in Nashua. “And whatever you’re giving, we need you to give more. Because this election truly is the most important election of our lifetime.”

Trump does face some competition on the New Hampshire Republican ballot, including former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh. But the Trump campaign says it's already focused on winning New Hampshire in the general election in November.

-Lauren Chooljian

7:00 p.m.

Bernie Sanders declared victory in the Iowa caucuses today, three days after the Hawkeye State's opening caucuses Feb. 3. The Associated Press, however, is still reporting as of this hour that the caucuses are too close to call. The AP says it is "unable to declare a winner.

With 97% of precincts reporting, Pete Buttigieg is leading Sanders in the state delegate equivalent ratio 550 to 547. Sanders had collected more votes, though: 44,753 to 42,235.

6:00 p.m.

New Hampshire election officials say they are confident that primary results will be available a couple of hours after the polls close on Tuesday, NHPR's Casey McDermott tells CNN. Anchor Brooke Baldwin invited McDermott on today to discuss the ground game in the Granite State.

5:20 p.m.  

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is trying to close the deal with New Hampshire veterans as Primary Day nears. Buttigieg served as an intelligence officer in the Navy and today he spent time at an American Legion Post in Merrimack.

One voter asked how his deployment in Afghanistan would inform his conduct as president.

Buttigieg said he learned the importance of humility and a sense of humor.

"Most of the, actually a good share of the sense of humor is kind of unrepeatable as I think about being in the presence of cameras," he said. "But the ability to take some of the toughest situations and the most challenging realities, and lift one another up through a well-timed joke is something as we experience a different kind of challenge and a certain kind of pressure, I always try to remember with my team."

Buttigieg finished in a near tie with Bernie Sanders in the Iowa Caucuses this week. But today, the head of the Democratic National Committee called for a recanvass of the results there.

3:25 p.m.  

State and federal officials gathered at the New Hampshire State House Thursday to detail the precautions they're taking to make sure next Tuesday's primary runs smoothly.

Governor Sununu spoke to reporters about his confidence in New Hampshire's primary process Thursday. To his right, Secretary of State Bill Gardner.
Credit Dan Tuohy | NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu said many of the steps being taken are standard practice for New Hampshire, but he acknowledged that there is heightened attention on the state's vote in light of the issues around last week's Iowa caucuses.

"Here in New Hampshire we've held our first-in-the-nation primary for over a hundred years. We have an incredible track record of being right, reliable, and on time," Sununu said.

The New Hampshire Attorney General's office will deploy inspectors to every polling place in the state - including the three communities that vote at midnight - to ensure they're following proper election procedures.

Law enforcement at the state and federal level will also operate Election Day hotlines where people can call in with questions, or to report any issues they encounter at the polls.

Barring any unexpected incidents on primary day, state officials expect to see initial returns within hours of the polls closing.

- Casey McDermott

12:00 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is holding a news conference at his headquarters in Manchester to give a campaign update. The Vermont senator is scheduled to speak at Politics & Eggs on Friday morning at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College.  Primary Candidate Tracker

After saying he was disappointed with his results in the Iowa caucuses, former Vice President Joe Biden said he is redoubling efforts in New Hampshire. He also took repeated aim at some of the Democrats who beat him in Iowa, including Sanders. "Every Democrat will have to carry the label Senator Sanders has chosen for himself. He calls him - and I don't criticize him - he calls himself a Democratic Socialist," Biden said.

He also questioned if Pete Buttigieg was calling the Obama-Biden administration a failure. Sitting down with NHPR's Josh Rogers, Biden expressed optimism. 

"I have the broadest appeal across the country in terms of the diversity of my coalition, particularly with minorities, African-Americans and Hispanics," he said. "So we are just getting to it now, and I've aid from the beginning that the determination of who is going to end up the nominee will be judged by how you get through the first four gates here - the first two primaries and the first two caucuses."

Climate Town Hall

Voters heard new specifics and a sense of urgency around climate change from several Democratic candidates at a youth-focused forum in Concord Wednesday. Several candidates discussed their ideas to address climate change, which polls have shown ranks high among Democratic primary voters, NHPR's Annie Ropeik reports.

"I am convinced we can do it," Amy Klobuchar said. "But we have to have a president that can bring people with her and talk about it in a way that makes sense to people."

The event, called the N.H. Youth Climate Town Hall, was hosted by the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation and others.

Related: Where They Stand: The Democrats' Plans on Climate Change

_______________

Listen to Stranglehold, the NHPR's podcast about the New Hampshire Primary

5:45 p.m.

A day after telling voters in Nashua that “he’d gotten more than his fair share" of Iowa caucus delegates, Joe Biden was sounding a different message on the New Hampshire campaign trail Wednesday.

“I am not going to sugarcoat it," Biden told a crowd in Somersworth. "We took a gut punch in Iowa, the whole process took a gutpuch. But look, this is not the first time I’ve been knocked down."

NHPR’s Josh Rogers was with Biden Wednesday, as he and his campaign worked to restore its footing with less than a week until the primary here. Listen to his report here.

5:20 p.m.

As New Hampshire's Primary Day nears, Senator Elizabeth Warren is pitching herself as a unifier of the Democratic party in an effort to win over undecided voters.

Audience members hold "Unite the party" signs at Warren's Nashua event Wednesday
Credit Sarah Gibson for NHPR

At a town hall in Nashua this morning, Warren told voters that if they were still on the fence, they should look at her plan to fight corruption in Washington.

"That's something Democrats should be jumping up and down on - this isn't left right or left moderate in the party - all of us understand corruption undercuts the whole democratic process," she said.

Warren left the event to fly back to Washington, to vote on the articles of impeachment of President Trump.

- Sarah Gibson

5:10 p.m.

Several presidential candidates stopped in Concord today to dig into the details of their climate change plans with young voters.

Several candidates appeared at a climate change forum in Concord Wednesday.
Credit Annie Ropeik for NHPR

Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and others talked about it with students working in climate science or sustainability as part of a climate change town hall open to the public.

Clarice Perryman is getting her doctorate at UNH, studying wetlands and methane emissions. She wants the candidates to get more voters invested in climate change by explaining how it connects to other issues.

"The ramifications of mitigating climate change are going to touch everything about what we know - it's not just the energy we use, it's about our economy, it's about how we live our lives and how we value things," she said.

Polls show climate change is among the top 2 or 3 issues for primary voters in New Hampshire.

- Annie Ropeik

Note: Click here to compare the candidates' positions on climate change policy

4:25 p.m.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders told a crowd in Derry that he is the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in the election. He also said Democrats will need historic turnout levels to compete in November.

"I believe the old fashioned status quo politics is not going to generate the kind of energy and excitement we need to bring working class people into the political process - to bring young people into the political process to grow the base.

Some in the audience seemed unsure. A soon-to-be college graduate who identified himself as Alex told Sanders he wants to vote for him, but he's nervous because he's about to start a job in the health insurance industry.

Sanders' Medicare for All plan would eliminate private insurance.

“What kind of reassurance can you provide to me and the hundreds of thousands of other people who work for private insurers that there is still a need for our careers after single-payer healthcare?” asked Alex.

“People who work in the healthcare industry, the workers, are not our enemy,” responded Sanders. “We will have a very just, unprecedented transition program to make sure that those people are made whole.” Chelsea Celeste from Derry came to the event looking for Sanders to address the state’s opioid crisis. She said she’s lost two friends to overdoses.

“I’ve had a lot of friends unfortunately that are buried in the local cemetery.”

Afterwards Celeste said she was satisfied with Sanders descriptions of opioid manufacturers as “corrupt” and “criminal.” “The fact that he knows that the pharmaceutical companies are to blame for a majority of it is really great,” said Celeste.

Immediately following the event, Sanders left the state for Washington, D.C. to cast his vote in Donald Trump's impeachment trial. He returns to the state Friday.  

- Jason Moon

2:00 p.m.

NHPR's Annie Ropeik is covering a candidate climate forum in Concord today. Click here to read more, and to find out where the candidates stand on climate change.

1:00 p.m. 

In Nashua, Sen. Elizabeth Warren talked about the impeachment trial, and likely acquittal for Trump along party lines.

"For Republicans to lock arms and declare that their loyalty to a person in the White House rather than the constitution of the United States is a crisis," she said. 

The only recourse is for Democrats to vote him out of office in November, she added.

7:00 a.m.

After a day of confusion and incomplete information, the two candidates who, at least for now, appear to have finished first and second in the Iowa Caucuses – Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders – spoke to enthusiastic crowds Tuesday evening. Both of them claimed Iowa victories...in New Hampshire.

Click here for the story by Jason Moon and Lauren Chooljian

6:30 p.m.  

NHPR's Jason Moon is covering this evening's Bernie Sanders event in Milford.

5:10 p.m.

The results are in - partially - for the Iowa caucuses. Iowa Democratic party chair Troy Price says the issues surrounding the party's inability to report results are "unacceptable." He also assured reporters that the raw data behind the results is secure.

Click here for NPR's live blog with real-time results of from Iowa.

With 62 percent reporting, the delegate count puts Pete Buttigieg in a narrow lead with 26.9% over Bernie Sanders, who holds 25.1%. Elizabeth Warren stands in third place with 18.3%, with Joe Biden in fourth place at 15.6%.

Amy Klobuchar has 12.6%, Andrew Yang has 1.1%, and Tom Steyer has .3%. Mike Bloomberg and Tulsi Gabbard are both at 0%

Price says the state party will continue to tabulate results carefully until 100 percent of the results can be resported accurately.

4:20 p.m.

Joe Biden's first event today was a speech in Nashua.

"So we don't know precisely how many delegates we have and how many we'll get but I feel really good about getting more than our fair share, and now its time for New Hampshire to speak...loudly," he said.

At a later stop n Nashua, Biden defended his approach to heath care, which would create a public option for Medicare. And he criticized Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all proposal. Biden said Sanders wouldn't be able to get the idea through Congress and hasn't spelled out how he'd pay for it.

- Josh Rogers

Credit Josh Rogers | NHPR

3:55 p.m.

After a late night in Iowa, Minn. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is hosting "Get Out The Vote" rallies across the state today. At a rally in Concord, she said that although results from Iowa are unknown, she feels good about her performance there.

"We won so many precincts and delegates that I don't think people gave us a chance to win," she said. "And it had this grassroots feeling that New Hampshire would be proud about.

Klobuchar returns to Washington tomorrow to vote in the impeachment trial. 

- Alex McOwen

Kim DeStefano of Pembroke says she’s close to supporting Klobuchar—but not yet— she’s going to hear Pete Buttigieg tonight.
Credit Dan Tuohy | NHPR

2:40 p.m.

Andrew Yang addresses electability, if he becomes the Democratic nominee for President.

NHPR's Todd Bookman followed his campaign to an event at Colby Sawyer College today:

2:30 p.m.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, after a rally at NHTI-Concord, said she's appealing directly to New Hampshire voters. And she quoted the late Sen. John McCain, a two-time GOP N.H. primary winner: "'There's nothing more liberating than a cause larger than yourself,' and that is this election."

12:40 p.m.

Voters gathering for Warren's first event of the week said they are frustrated with the delayed Iowa caucus results. Warren later told reporters that the Iowa Democratic Party should "get it together" and announce a complete and accurate account.

10:20 a.m.

With the Iowa caucus over - though not yet decided - every major Democrat will be campaigning in New Hampshire today. In the noon hour alone, Joe Biden will visit Nashua, Amy Klobuchar will campaign in Concord, Andrew Yang will hit New London, Pete Buttigieg will make a stop in Hampton, and Elizabeth Warren will be in Keene. 

Bernie Sanders, who won the primary by a landslide in 2016, has an evening rally planned for Milford.

- Josh Rogers

(Click here for our 2020 Primary Tracker for a calendar of events.)

Earlier this morning, NHPR's Lauren Chooljian caught up with Pete Buttigieg in Nashua: