Biden's 2020 Hopes May Be On the Line in NH

Friday night's debate could be critical for him to avoid a 2nd straight bad election night
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2020 1:15 PM CST
Where's Joe? NH Debate Could Be a Major Test
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in Nashua, N.H.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Another debate gets rolling Friday at 8pm ET on ABC. This time, seven Democrats will be on stage in Manchester, New Hampshire—Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang. Here's a look at what's stake and what to watch for:

  • Biden: The former VP held no public events in New Hampshire Thursday, just five days before the primary, so he could hole up with advisers back home in Delaware, "seeking a reset and perhaps a last-ditch effort to save his candidacy," per the Washington Post. It all starts with Friday night's debate. Biden did poorly in Iowa, and he's on track for another lackluster finish in New Hampshire. A notable indicator: His campaign pulled money from South Carolina, which votes Feb. 29, and moved it to Nevada, which votes sooner on Feb. 22. It suggests Biden fears the worst in New Hampshire and knows he may not be able to survive three consecutive bad election results, notes the Post.
  • Biden II: At the Los Angeles Times, David Lauter amplifies the stakes: Biden finished fourth in Iowa, and a fourth-place finish in New Hampshire "might not be survivable." Biden, therefore, will need to be persuasive Friday night in a state that isn't great for him: Not only is it largely white, notes Lauter, its electorate is heavy on white-collar voters.

  • Sanders: The big question in much of the previews is whether Sanders will go after Buttigieg. They are essentially tied for first in Iowa and tied atop the latest New Hampshire polls. “I like Pete Buttigieg, nice guy,” Sanders said Friday. "But we are in a moment where billionaires control not only our economy but our political life.” The New York Times reports he cited newspaper coverage citing support of Buttigieg from millionaires and billionaires, and it could be a hint of what's to come Friday night. However, the Times notes that Sanders still sees Biden as more of a long-term threat and may go after him, too.
  • Buttigieg: He could be a big target from multiple rivals, especially in terms of experience, because of his strong Iowa finish. Plus, he irked his fellow candidates by essentially declaring victory even before the first caucus results were in, per the Times.
  • Warren: She finished third in Iowa and also needs a New Hampshire bump. The Wall Street Journal observes that the debate "could prove critical" as well as tricky for her. She's been urging party unity of late, suggesting she might not engage when the other candidates begin sparring.
  • Klobuchar: CNN suggests the Minnesota senator could be a threat to others on stage because New Hampshire is a "do-or-die state" for her. She has gone on the attack in previous debates, particularly against Buttigieg, and Friday's debate could well be her final chance to vault into the top tier of candidates.
  • And: Yang and Steyer, of course, will be looking for breakout moments, and the Hill also wonders whether the absent Mike Bloomberg will loom as a presence over the debate. The billionaire is waiting out the early states, and "how or whether he weighs on the discussion on Friday night remains a key question." Another factor: How many people will be watching on a Friday night?
(More Democratic debate stories.)

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