Top Democratic Candidates Make Their Cases Ahead of New Hampshire Primary

February 9, 2020 Updated: February 9, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

Nearly all top-tier Democratic Party contenders took to national television on Feb. 9 to make their cases on the talk-show circuit just days before this week’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary in New Hampshire.

In the lead-up to the primary, recent polls also indicate that former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are the two front-runners in the state. The pair also finished atop last week’s Iowa caucus results, which the chairman of that state’s Democratic Party recently said would be independently reviewed because of technological and reporting issues.

Former Vice President Joe Biden took the opportunity to defend his results in the Iowa caucuses—in which he finished fourth with 15.8 percent of the vote—telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that he still has an advantage. Stephanopoulos responded that “no one [who] has come in below second in Iowa and New Hampshire has ever won the nomination.”

“No one has ever won the nomination without being able to get overwhelming support from the African American community either,” Biden responded. “So far, no one’s doing that but me.”

Days ago, the final Democratic presidential debate before the primary was held, which featured a total of seven candidates who met the thresholds for donor and polling support. It included Buttigieg, Sanders, Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former tech executive Andrew Yang; billionaire businessman Tom Steyer, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Buttigieg, meanwhile, used his talk-show appearances to respond to an attack ad recently released by Biden and to push back against widespread criticism he received for comments he made during the Feb. 7 debate on racial disparities in arrests for marijuana possession. In the ad, Biden contrasted his track record with Buttigieg’s experience as a mayor, while also stating that Buttigieg was “not a Barack Obama.”

“Well, he’s right, I’m not, and neither is he. Neither is any of us,” Buttigieg told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. The mayor added that “this isn’t 2008, this is 2020.”

On the topic of marijuana, Buttigieg told Wallace that the “disparity is real, it’s a problem, and that’s part of the reason I’m proposing that we legalize marijuana outright and when we do, we have a process of expungement and looking back to the harm that drug policy has caused.”

“We need reform,” he said. “No one mayor is going to be able to resolve it. This is a national process.”

Sanders, also in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” responded to President Donald Trump’s comments that the senator is a communist. Sanders is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

“Obviously, I am not a communist,” Sanders told Wallace.

When asked about the cost of some of his proposals, the senator said that it’s worth it in the long run. One of them was “Medicare for All,” a policy proposal that would transition the nation’s health insurance industry to a single-payer system in which the government is the sole insurance provider. The policy is being promoted by the DSA.

“If we leave the [health care] status quo alone, in the next 10 years, we’re going to be spending $50 trillion,” Sanders said. “Medicare for All will cost the average American less than the $12,000 a year they are paying the insurance companies.”

Biden referred to Buttigieg in his interview as well, telling ABC, “I’m saying he hasn’t been able to unify the black community.”

Meanwhile, Warren pushed back on her third-place finish in Iowa, during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” Warren received 18 percent of the total vote.

“The way I see this is it’s going to be a long campaign,” she said, adding that she is building a campaign meant to “go the distance.”

“When I made the decision not to spend 70 percent of my time raising money from billionaires and corporate executive and lobbyists, it meant I had a lot more time to go around the country.

“I’ve been to 31 states to do town halls, red states and blue states. We have about 1,000 people on the ground. We built a campaign to go the distance and that’s what I think is going to happen.”

According to The Hill, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) wasn’t booked on any mainstream talk show on Feb. 9. Klobuchar finished fifth in Iowa.

A new CNN poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and released on Feb. 8, showed Sanders in the lead at 28 percent of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters. Buttigieg was close behind at 25 percentage points while Biden and Warren trailed with 11 percentage points and 9 points, respectively.

In a separate Iowa poll, one highlighted by Trump, the president defeated all of the top five candidates in head-to-head matchups. The New York Times/Siena College poll of likely caucusgoers was conducted from Jan. 20 to Jan. 23.

In the matchups, Trump edged Buttigieg by one percentage point, 45 to 44. Trump also topped Biden by two percentage points and beat Sanders by six percentage points. Against Warren, he won by five percentage points.

In Iowa’s Republican caucus, Trump won 97.1 percent of the total votes. The next Republican contender after him was former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who gained 1.3 percent of the votes.

Just days after the Iowa caucus, Trump was acquitted by the Senate on both articles in the impeachment trial. On Feb. 6, Trump spoke at the White House about the failed impeachment effort against him, describing them as a continuation of attempts that started the moment he declared his bid for the presidency in 2015.

“It started from the day we came down the elevator … and it never really stopped. We’ve been going through this now for over three years,” Trump said.

“It was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops. It was leakers, it was liars. It should never happen to another president again, ever.”

Follow Bowen on Twitter: @BowenXiao_