On the trail: Biden back to N.H. next week

Biden at his campaign office in Manchester, N.H.

Biden at his campaign office in Manchester, N.H. Evan Vucci/AP file photo

By PAUL STEINHAUSER

For the Monitor

Published: 05-17-2024 6:53 AM

President Joe Biden returns to New Hampshire next week for his second visit in two months to the only general election battleground state in New England.

The president will hold an official White House event in Merrimack.

Afterward, Democratic sources told the Monitor that Biden will head down to Boston to hold two fundraising events as he runs for re-election in a 2024 rematch with former President Donald Trump.

It’s Biden’s second trip to New Hampshire this year, following a visit in early March that included a policy event in Goffstown where the president made the case for budget proposals he announced days earlier in the State of the Union Address and spotlighted how his administration has been trying to help lower costs for American families coping with rising prices due to persistent inflation.

Biden also made a stop in Manchester to formally open his re-election campaign’s first coordinated field office in the state, and to speak with Democratic operatives, activists, and supporters. The campaign field office stop appeared to be part of the president’s political mission of patching up hard feelings from the primary season.

The March trip was Biden’s first time back in New Hampshire since an April 2022 stop in Portsmouth.

The president angered plenty of Granite State Democrats in the wake of a move early last year by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) – following Biden’s lead – to bump New Hampshire from its traditional role as the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state.

New Hampshire, adhering to a state law that mandates its presidential primary goes first, did just that – which meant the state’s Jan. 23 nominating contest was unsanctioned on the Democratic side.

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Biden kept his name off the ballot and steered clear of the state, but thanks to a well-organized write-in effort by New Hampshire’s Democratic establishment leaders, the president easily won the primary over his long-shot challengers.

“It stunned me, the write-in campaign you all did,” Biden told supporters in March, according to a pool report. “I was stunned and I was really pleased.”

And Biden said to laughter that “I was very careful not to be here.”

A couple of weeks ago, the DNC announced it would welcome New Hampshire’s delegates to the national nominating convention this summer in Chicago after the state party conducted a very small party-run presidential primary days earlier.

Besides being the state that for a century has held the first presidential primary, New Hampshire for a couple of decades has also been one of around a dozen competitive states in general elections.

Trump narrowly lost New Hampshire to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election, but four years ago, it was not as close, as Biden carried the state by over seven points.

While the president stayed away from New Hampshire the past couple of years, Trump made regular visits, which culminated in his 11-point GOP presidential primary victory in the state in January.

Democratic sources say to expect regular visits in New Hampshire between now and the November election from either the president, Vice President Kamala Harris, their spouses, and other top Biden campaign surrogates.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Chris Coons of Delaware, Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota, and Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and Sara Jacobs of California have made stops in the state in recent weeks to help formally open campaign field offices and highlight what’s at stake in this year’s elections.

And as part of their full court press over the combustible issue of abortion, the Biden campaign in New Hampshire earlier this week hosted Amanda Zurawski and Kaitlyn Joshua, who shared their near-death pregnancy experiences and spotlighted the importance of reproductive rights in the 2024 elections.

The Biden team in New Hampshire notes that with the opening of a location in Littleton this weekend, there are now 12 coordinated campaign offices across the state dedicated to re-election of Democrats from the top to the bottom of the ballot.

When it comes to boots on the ground in the Granite State, Biden’s campaign and the Democrats with six months until the election have a large advantage over Trump and the Republicans.

The Trump campaign is currently staffing its state headquarters in Manchester and a field office in Campton.

But Trump campaign Granite State senior adviser Steve Stepanek tells the Monitor that the former president “is extremely strong in New Hampshire and we’re very confident we’ll notch a win in the state in November.”

“President Biden feels the same way and that’s why he’s spending so much in resources to try to change the tide,” Stepanek, a former state GOP chair, argued. “Biden and his team know that New Hampshire’s in play.”

While New Hampshire won’t see as much campaign traffic as the half dozen crucial battleground states, it still matters in the general election.

“If you look across at some of the real tight swing states, we’re not one of those. But certainly, this is one you need to have on Election Night in your corner,” New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College executive director Neil Levesque noted. “Our four electoral voters are not a lot, [but] they are very meaningful at 10 p.m. on Election Night.”