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Biden says Bloomberg is no threat

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  • Former Vice President Joe Biden kisses his wife Jill after she introduce him to the crowd at the rally in front of the State House on Friday, November 8, 2019 after he signed up at the Secretary of State office. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden greets rally participants at the State House during his rally after signing up for the New Hampshire Primary at the Secretary of State off on Friday, November 8, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden greets rally participants at the State House after signing up for the New Hampshire presidential primary at the Secretary of State’s office on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden greets Marge and Bruce Cudney’s dog Maggie after the rally at the State House on Friday. The Cudneys of Warner waited at the end of the line to wait so Biden could meet their dog. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

For the Monitor
Published: 11/8/2019 6:07:47 PM

Joe Biden says he welcomes former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The former vice president, who was in New Hampshire Friday to file to run in the first in the nation primary, shot down suggestions that any candidacy by the billionaire business mogul big on gun control and environmental advocacy is a reflection of Biden’s own performance as he runs for the White House.

“I welcome him in the race. Michael’s a solid guy and let’s see where it goes. I have no problem with him getting in the race,” the former vice president told reporters after his visit to the Secretary of State’s office.

Biden’s appearance came the morning that Bloomberg announced he would file paperwork to designate himself as a candidate in Alabama’s Democratic presidential primary.

Bloomberg flirted with a presidential bid early this year – including a swing through New Hampshire – but in March ruled out a 2020 White House run. His top advisers said on Thursday that he changed his mind because he worried the current crop of 2020 hopefuls were not “well positioned” to beat President Trump next November.

Biden dismissed talk that Bloomberg was jumping in because Biden is struggling.

“In terms of he’s running because of me, the last polls I looked at, I’m pretty far ahead,” Biden said.

Asked by the Monitor if he’s talked with Bloomberg in recent days, the former vice president said the two speak frequently, saying “I’ve spoken with Michael a lot.”

But he refused to elaborate.

“It would be inappropriate of me to tell you about any conversations I had or didn’t have with him about whether or not he was going to run.”

The conventional wisdom is that Bloomberg – who like Biden’s considered a moderate – could take votes away from Biden. If Bloomberg launches a campaign, he could quickly spend millions on his behalf.

Bloomberg is not expected to spend much time in New Hampshire.

His aides announced on Friday evening that he wouldn’t file in New Hampshire and wouldn’t be competing here or in the three other early voting states – Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina. Instead, Bloomberg would concentrate on the Super Tuesday states in early March and beyond.

“If we run, we are confident we can win in states voting on Super Tuesday and beyond, where we will start on an even footing. But the late timing of our entry means that many candidates already have a big head start in the four early states, where they’ve spent months and months campaigning and spending money,” Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson said. “We have enormous respect for the Democratic primary process and many friends in those states, but our plan is to run a broad-based, national campaign.”

Longtime New Hampshire Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, a top Granite State Biden supporter, dismissed any threat to Biden from Bloomberg.

“Our guy is solid at this point in time,” the state senator stressed.

Likewise, Kathy Sullivan, a Democratic National Committee member from New Hampshire and a former state Democratic Party chair who remains neutral in the primary race, stressed that Democrats aren’t lacking in candidates.

“I haven’t heard anyone in New Hampshire express any concern whatsoever that there are not any good, qualified candidates who can beat Trump,” Sullivan said. “If anything, we are having a tough time choosing.”

The deadline for candidates to file to place their name on the first-in-the nation presidential primary is next Friday, Nov. 15.

Bloomberg has reached out to some top Granite State Democrats. Longtime state Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley told the Monitor that he received a call from Bloomberg.

However, Buckley said he was disappointed and surprised Bloomberg would skip campaigning in the Granite State.

“New Hampshire and other early state voters are some of the most engaged voters in the country. They ask tough questions that prepare the candidates for what’s to come in the general election,” Buckley said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that Michael Bloomberg doesn’t want to participate in this invaluable, important and unique primary process and be tested the same way that the other Democratic candidates have been and will be.”

On Friday, Biden was accompanied by former four-term Democratic Gov. John Lynch as he passed through a cauldron of supporters packed into the halls of the historic New Hampshire State House. After he filed, he headlined a rally with supporters.

While Biden remains the front-runner in national polling, he’s slightly behind top-tier rivals Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the latest New Hampshire survey. The two progressive standard-bearers hail from neighboring states.

Biden isn’t conceding anything.

“I plan on trying to win New Hampshire. I’m not here to come in second. I never entered anything to come in second,” he said.

“It’s really important that you do well in the first four states. It could be enough to make you a nominee,” Biden added. “It could be enough to keep you in the race. It could be enough to take you out of the race.”

A couple of hours before Biden’s appearance, tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang filed to place his name on the primary ballot.

Yang complimenting Bloomberg, but predicted New Hampshire will be a problem for him.

“I do think that he’s going to have an uphill climb in the race, in part because of New Hampshire, where the people here in New Hampshire love to meet a candidate in person, take their temperature, look into their eyes, sometimes have them in their living room,” Yang said of Bloomberg. “I don’t think that’s going to be possible with Mike.”

Yang has campaigned extensively in the state over the past year and a half.

“There are some things money cannot buy and you can’t replace thousands of conversations in New Hampshire and in the early states with advertising,” Yang said. “It’s just not possible. I welcome Mike into the race in the sense that he is a great American leader and has a lot to offer, but I think he’s got his work cut out for him.”

Like every other candidate who files, Yang signed the appropriate paperwork at the Secretary of State’s office and paid the $1,000 fee to place his name on the ballot.

The amount matches his signature issue – establishing a monthly “Freedom Dividend” for all Americans.

Yang called his campaign “electric” and said he will “blow through expectations” in Iowa and New Hampshire. He said the crowd of supporters who greeted him Friday was proof that democracy still works, and that at a time when government has become a tangle of pipes clogged with lobbyist money, New Hampshire voters will “flush the pipes clean.”

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