Joe Biden says he isn’t giving up on his campaign’s chances in New Hampshire, but he won’t be sticking around in the state to see the first-in-the-nation primary results.
The former vice president told reporters Tuesday that he’s flying to South Carolina, skipping out on the election night party in Nashua where he was slated to speak, as polls show his once-strong support slipping in the Democratic primary race.
“We had a lot of great friends here who have helped us a lot,” Biden said as he stood in line at a Dunkin’ restaurant in Manchester. “We’re still mildly hopeful here in New Hampshire, and we’ll see what happens.”
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) February 11, 2020
Biden confirmed the unusual decision — every other major candidate is scheduled to attend primary night parties Tuesday night in New Hampshire — after a Politico reporter noticed Tuesday morning that a charter plane associated with his campaign was scheduled to fly from Manchester to Charleston, South Carolina at 6 p.m., before circling back to the former Delaware senator’s home town of Wilmington. Biden told reporters that his campaign also plans to visit Nevada — which, along with South Carolina, votes later this month.
“The rest of the nation is out there,” he said. “ There’s an awful lot of electoral votes to be had. And we’re going to see. But I think we’re going to do well in Nevada and South Carolina.”
Biden noted that former President Bill Clinton won the Democratic nomination in 1992 after losing eight of the first nine contests at the time. However, his campaign has been on a different trajectory. After a fourth-place finish in Iowa, recent polls have shown Biden’s support nosediving in New Hampshire.
As Politico recently reported, Biden’s campaign is betting big on the Feb. 29 primary in South Carolina, where the former vice president traditionally has received strong support from Black voters. He and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, are now scheduled to appear at a South Carolina “launch party” Tuesday night in the state’s capital city, Columbia. (Nevada’s caucuses are Feb. 22.)
Asked about the message it sent to flee New Hampshire Tuesday before polls had even closed in the state, Biden repeatedly said that he’s “got to get to South Carolina.”
“It says that I’m going to South Carolina,” he said. “That’s what it says.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a fellow Democratic primary candidate, thinks it says something different.
“I think it says that he’s not here to fight for the votes in New Hampshire,” Warren told reporters Tuesday afternoon in Nashua. “I think that this is what democracy is about. We get out here, we talk to voters, and we fight for every vote.”
A crush of press here at @ewarren’s third stop of the day: a polling station in Nashua, NH. After greeting supporters, @alivitali asked Warren about Biden leaving for South Carolina. Warren responded: “I think it says that he’s not here to fight for the voters in New Hampshire.” pic.twitter.com/y3DdVObFVH
— Tara Prindiville (@taraprindiville) February 11, 2020
Sanders was somewhat less declarative, when asked about Biden’s decision Tuesday.
“All I can say is we will be here tonight,” he said with a smirk.