MANCHESTER, N.H. – This frosty weekend marked a turning point for Joe Biden’s ailing third presidential quest; he is hammering front-runners Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg as the New Hampshire Tuesday primary looms.
Biden does not expect to do well here.
“I took a hit in Iowa and I’ll probably take a hit here,” Biden said at the debate Friday.
The states after New Hampshire have more promise for Biden and could potentially provide a road to revival. Latino voters count a lot in the Nevada caucus and African Americans dominate the South Carolina primary.
Buttigieg, the former South Bend mayor, has yet to prove he can attract African American support. Biden, vice president under the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, is banking on minority backing.
At the Rex Theater here on Saturday, Biden noted Democrats only “win the presidency” (when) we have overwhelming support from the African American community... I do not take the American black vote for granted. I know how to earn it and I’ve earned it.”
A short time later, the Biden campaign went harder, releasing a digital ad slamming Buttigieg, who has had has had trouble attracting African American support, for firing South Bend’s African American police and fire chiefs, raising racial issues.
Former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard is in New Hampshire as a Biden surrogate. He discussed Biden’s new spot with the Sun-Times and another reporter Saturday.
“It’s fair game,” Blanchard said.
“Obviously, one of the strong suits for Joe Biden is the love and affection from the African American community. And it isn’t just that he was Obama’s vice president, it’s years in the Senate, it’s familiarity.
“Bringing it up now is better than later, absolutely.”
I asked why.
“Because it’s the same thing [President Donald] Trump would bring up, only in far worse [terms] and with no record of having any sympathy towards African Americans.”
Biden’s spot also belittled Buttigieg’s mayoral record, portraying it as small compared to the giant global and domestic issues Biden handled as vice president.
South Bend’s population is about the size of two Chicago wards.
Buttigieg national press secretary Chris Meagher said in a statement, “At this moment, the American people are crying out for something completely different from this classic Washington style of politics.
“While Washington politics trivializes what goes on in communities like South Bend, South Bend residents who now have better jobs, rising income, and new life in their city don’t think their lives are a Washington politician’s punchline.
“Pete’s on the ground experience as mayor, turning around a Midwestern industrial city, is exactly why he is running for president. The Vice President’s decision to run this ad speaks more to where he currently stands in this race than it does about Pete’s perspective as a mayor and veteran.”
Biden is in a sense already moving on from New Hampshire even before the vote.
Attacks on Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont and a democratic socialist, are also getting stronger from all the contenders, alarmed that he may bring down other Democrats in November.
In a Saturday email fundraising appeal the Biden campaign said, if “Sanders becomes the Democratic nominee, every Democrat is going to have to carry the label of democratic socialist.”
That GOP line of attack is already constantly lobbed at Democrats, no matter their ideology.
Biden’s campaign has tried to elevate Biden by keeping the focus on Trump. A door hanger (that’s a card that fits around a doorknob) I picked up at a Biden campaign office in this city’s downtown is headlined “Beat Trump.”
Biden has to gain strength to beat his rivals first.