In New Hampshire, Buttigieg, Sanders try to cash in on strong Iowa performance

Buttigieg: “New Hampshire is not the kind of place to let Iowa or anybody else tell you what to do.”

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Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Delivers Campaign Update In Manchester, New Hampshire

Sen. Bernie Sanders declaring himself the Iowa winner at his New Hampshire headquarters in Manchester. That’s the Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet in the front row.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Dear Readers,

This is a busy, amazing week. I’m in New Hampshire. I pivoted to covering the 2020 primary here a few hours after wrapping up 13 days of writing about President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

I start in New Hampshire with Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg coming out of last Tuesday’s Iowa caucus in the best shape — even though the results in the counting debacle are not official yet.

Joe Biden has the most to lose. As I’m writing this I just got a Biden campaign email with the expectation-lowering subject line: “I’m not going anywhere.”

There is a debate in Manchester on Friday night, and Sanders, the Vermont senator; Buttigieg, the ex-South Bend mayor; and Biden, the former vice president will be joined on the stage by Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts; and former business executives Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire who is skipping the early states, looms as a formidable contender.His multimillion-dollar spending on staff and ads resulted in the Democratic National Committee changing its rules to give him a spot at the next debate Feb. 19 in Nevada. Was the DNC fair? Or is giving Bloomberg a platform confronting the reality that Bloomberg is a factor?

Last night I left the Capitol and caught a 9 p.m. flight to Boston.Why Boston? Because I’m thrifty. Even with Chicago Sun-Times money.The air fare and rental cars costs are substantially cheaper than in New Hampshire. About half.

There are four states with the initial presidential votes in February — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

The Granite State holds the first 2020 primary vote in the nation Tuesday. A primary is a vote where people cast a ballot in private for their candidate.

Last Monday, Iowa held the first 2020 caucus – where people declare their candidate preference in a public setting. The Hawkeye State caucus vote counting turned out to be a mess.

From Boston, I headed to Manchester, where I was to meet — so I thought — with Joe Walsh, the former Chicago-area Republican congressman turned talk show host turned Trump critic running for president in a quixotic bid.

We were to rendezvous at the Red Arrow Diner, a must-stop here for candidates on the trail. When I arrived, the nice woman at the cash register said Walsh been there and gone. To make the best of the situation, since I already paid for the parking, I had a great cheese omelette. When I got the check, I was reminded that New Hampshire has no sales tax.

My next stop was a Sanders press conference. I drove through rain and slush to the Sanders New Hampshire headquarters, a storefront in a strip mall.

I last saw Sanders on Wednesday, right after the Senate impeachment trial finally concluded. Sanders and Warren crossed paths as they left the chamber — a few feet apart. The two ignored each other. They didn’t even try. How telling is that.

Back at the mall, Sanders said he was “holding a press conference that should have occurred three nights ago in Des Moines, Iowa, but for the inability of the Iowa Democratic Party to count votes in a timely fashion.”

“That screw-up has been extremely unfair to the people of Iowa. It has been unfair to the candidates, all of the candidates and all of their supporters.”

Sanders claimed victory saying he bested Buttigieg in the popular vote. The race is still not called.

As we go through this primary season — the Illinois primary is March 17 — remember that all that matters is the delegate count.

Next I drove to a Buttigieg veterans event in Merrimack, at American Legion Post 98, where he highlights his Navy service.

His introducers included another vet, Illinois native Maura Sullivan, who once mulled a run for a Chicago-area congressional seat.

Buttigieg said he was “electrified” by the “extraordinary validation of this campaign’s vision we had in Iowa.”

Said Buttigieg, “I’m also mindful and humbled by the fact that New Hampshire is New Hampshire. And New Hampshire is not the kind of place to let Iowa or anybody else tell you what to do.”

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