MANCHESTER, N.H.—Coming off his second straight popular vote win, in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary on Feb. 11, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., preached party unity to defeat incumbent GOP President Donald Trump. So did fourth-place Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
February 12, 2020 2:39 PM CST
Second-place finisher Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., not so much. Third-place Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., touted her ability to get things done and talked a little about unity.
And fifth placer, former Vice President Joe Biden, who left New Hampshire for South Carolina to avoid embarrassment, continued to insist he had the most appeal to African-American voters and that he was best situated to defeat Trump.
Some members of the Democratic Party “establishment” are worried over Sanders’s lead and what they did not expect his ability to again accumulate enormous amounts of money from small-dollar individual contributors while spurning big donors, expensive consultants, and corporate campaign finance committees.
“Let me say tonight that this victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” Sanders told a huge crowd of cheering supporters at his victory speech in Manchester, the state’s largest city. The senator drew big cheers and chants of “Bernie beats Trump,” a result borne out by recent opinion polls nationwide. They show him leading by nine percentage points or so in a one-on-one race with the president. The Quinnipiac Poll shows that each of the Democratic candidates would defeat Trump in a one-to-one matchup, although, with the exception of Bloomberg, by smaller margins than Sanders.
Sanders also reached out to the other hopefuls after his victory: “I want… to express my appreciation and respect for all of the Democratic candidates we ran against: Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden. What I can tell you with absolute certainty, and I know I speak for every one of the Democratic candidates, is that no matter who wins, and we certainly hope it’s going to be us, we’re going to unite together…We are going to unite together and defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country.”
And repeating his campaign theme of basic change to the system so the economy works for workers, Sanders, a Democratic Socialist, added: “Our campaign is not just about beating Trump, it is about transforming this country.”
Sanders also stated it would be multi-generational, multi-racial and that it would take on and beat the “millionaires and billionaires” who now dominate the economy. Polls show strong support among young voters, including young people of color, for Sanders.
Meanwhile, in nine-tenths white New Hampshire, Sanders won 26% of the vote, while Buttigieg won 24%. The Granite State results almost exactly duplicated their 1-2 popular vote finish in Iowa’s caucuses on Feb. 3. Iowa is also more than nine-tenths white. Sanders won the higher turnout precincts of Latino voters there.
Klobuchar finished third with 19.7% in New Hampshire. She surged – including two capacity crowds after a top debate performance – in the final weekend. The voters left Warren (9.3%), former Vice President Biden (8.4%) behind, along with other hopefuls.
The ever-cheerful businessman Andrew Yang and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., dropped out. “I’m a math man and the math doesn’t add up,” Yang said, as some of his supporters cried. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who finished second to last, vowed to keep going. Bennet was last.
While Sanders named and praised his foes, some of them weren’t so generous. Although Klobuchar was among those, she saved her strongest fire for Donald Trump, not other Democrats.
Like Sanders, Warren was gracious, congratulating “my friend and colleague, Amy Klobuchar for showing just how wrong the pundits can be when they count a woman out.”
But after the first five minutes and 44 seconds of bring-us-together rhetoric, Buttigieg laced into Sanders, though not by name.
“A politics of ‘my way or the highway’” – his frequent characterization of Sanders – “is a road to reelecting Donald Trump. Vulnerable Americans do not have the luxury of pursuing ideological purity over an inclusive victory. We know this. We also know better than to try to defeat such a disruptive president by relying on the same Washington framework and mindset.”
In the state capital of Concord, Klobuchar aimed at Trump, but also – without naming him – at Bloomberg, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a nationwide ad campaign. He’s also rising in the polls, at Biden’s expense.
“We know in our hearts that in a democracy, it is not about the loudest voice or the biggest bank account. It is about the best idea and about the person who can turn those ideas into action,” said Klobuchar. “We cannot win big by trying to out-divide the divider in chief. We know that we win by bringing people with us instead of shutting them out.”
“Donald Trump’s worst nightmare is that the people in the middle, the people who have had enough of the name-calling and the mudslinging, have someone to vote for in November…I cannot wait to…win with a movement of fired-up Democrats, of independents, and moderate Republicans that see this election as” an “economic check…a patriotism check” and “a decency check” on Trump.
“Our collective sense of decency cannot handle another four years of a president who does not care about it,” Klobuchar said. “Our democracy cannot tolerate another four years of a president who wants to bulldoze right through it. And our American dream cannot tolerate a president that thinks he can choose who lives it.”
Meanwhile, Biden left for South Carolina as New Hampshire voted. He hopes that Southern state’s Feb. 29 primary, after the Feb. 22 Nevada caucuses, will help revive his candidacy. “It ain’t over, man. We’re just getting started,” he said when he landed in the Palmetto State.
Biden bases his optimism on what he believes is his strength among African-Americans, a majority of the voters in Democratic South Carolina primaries. Polls show that he has the support of 30 percent of African Americans eligible to vote in the South Carolina primary, a figure which is down from 50 percent in recent months, down from half this past summer. A recent state poll shows. Sanders, Bloomberg, and former financier Tom Steyer are all gaining on Biden’s South Carolina lead, the most recent statewide survey, early this month, adds.
Among the Democratic establishment figures attacking Sanders recently is former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He called into question Sanders’ ability to win in so-called swing states.
“Swing states have a higher concentration of swing voters. We need a nominee who draws them to the Democratic column,” said Emanuel.
David Plouffe, “the miracle worker” of the Obama campaign, meanwhile, has been pointing out that Sanders must increase his support to at least 30 percent of the vote assuming the candidates now in the race stay in there for a while. He said that in California Sanders might have the opportunity to push that percentage higher but that “if Sanders enters the convention with a plurality, say 35 percent, it will be very difficult for anyone to deny him the nomination.”
One path to that increase in strength for Sanders could come from growing his support among African-American and Latino voters where he has made some headway but says he will fight for more.
Plouffe said on national television that he could see billionaire Bloomberg scoring big after Super Tuesday. The emergence of 2015 recordings of Bloomberg still defending the “stop and frisk” program he had carried out as mayor of New York could spell real trouble, however, for his campaign.
On the campaign trail, Bloomberg has apologized for this.
He has, however, picked up support from one member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga.
McBath cited his funding and strong campaigning for gun control measures and pro-gun-control candidates nationwide. Her own outrage over the unjustified murder of her son prodded McBath into running for Congress and flipping a prior GOP-held seat in 2018.
What Bloomberg hasn’t apologized for is his nasty labor record. Bloomberg spent his eight years in the mayor’s chair trying to privatize city services, at the expense of its unionized workforce. He never signed contracts with their AFSCME locals – whose union consistently produced studies showing privatization was more expensive than continuing to use public workers.
And the bosses at the news organization, the Bureau of National Affairs, which Bloomberg bought for millions of dollars from its employee/retiree owners more than a year ago, gave take-it-with-cuts-or-start-from-scratch contract offers on BNA’s union, the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. There have also been numerous rounds of layoffs there, despite Bloomberg-BNA’s high revenues and profitability.
No one candidate has demonstrated the ability yet to build the full coalition that will be needed to defeat Donald Trump. Sanders may well be in the best position to do this, based on showings so far. Nevertheless, this remains a challenge for all the candidates.
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