On the trail: Fighting to stay in the race, Booker spotlights N.H. commitment

  • Elizabeth Warren, campaigning in Keene on Wednesday, downplayed recent favorable polls. Paul Steinhauser / Monitor staff

  • Cory Booker at “Politics and Eggs” on Thursday at the Bedford Village Inn. Paul Steinhauser / Monitor staff

For the Monitor
Published: 9/26/2019 7:54:50 PM

Sen. Cory Booker wants Granite Staters to know that New Hampshire’s a top priority for him as he runs for the Democratic presidential election.

The Democrat from New Jersey, who’s working to keep his White House bid alive, told the Monitor on Wednesday that “Granite Staters should know that I’m coming here to win, and I’m making a massive investment.”

Booker was back in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state on Thursday to headline “Politics and Eggs,” a must-do event for White House hopefuls.

Some of his rivals for the Democratic nomination – such as mid-tier contender Sen. Kamala Harris of California and longer-shots Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock – are now doubling down on Iowa, the state that kicks off the presidential caucus and primary nominating calendar.

“We’ve had well over 50 events and multiple visits, visited every county in this state,” Booker said. The senator, who’s built up a formidable campaign organization in New Hampshire, said, “If you just look at the percentage of our resources that we’re investing in this campaign, I mean they’re extraordinary.”

With two of the upper-tier candidates – Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont – hailing from neighboring states, some of the other candidates in the record-setting field of Democratic White House hopefuls may soon be waving the white flag in New Hampshire.

University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala noted that in the election cycle, “Iowa appears to offer more of an opportunity for a breakout than New Hampshire does.”

But Booker disagrees.

“I don’t believe in this idea that you can’t compete here. We got people in this race who are neighboring states,” he said. “No, I believe if I put my message, my heart, my gut, in front of folks that people will be able to make a good decision and that we’ll win, and I’m looking forward to competing hard in New Hampshire.”

Booker’s investment in time and resources in New Hampshire has not benefited him – to date – in the polls. He’s stuck in the low to mid-single digits in the latest surveys in the Granite State, as well as in the other early voting states and in national polls.

Booker’s presidential campaign manager warned in a memo to staff this past weekend that the senator must raise an additional $1.7 million by the end of the third quarter of fundraising – on Sept. 30 – or the campaign will not have a “legitimate long-term path forward.”

As of Thursday morning, Booker’s campaign reported they’d raised $1.1 million.

Booker denied that the move was a gimmick or gambit to raise campaign cash.

“I’m a competitor. I play to win. And if there’s no way to win this election, why should I be in it?” he asked.

Acknowledging that he trailed 2020 rivals in the race for campaign cash, Booker emphasized that “if we couldn’t raise $1.7 million by Monday, we would have to think hard about getting out of this race and it would likely be that. And so we put out a call to America and I want to say thank you because people have responded.”

Warren downplays polls

Warren returned to New Hampshire on Wednesday, a day after the latest poll in the first presidential primary state indicated she was knotted with former Vice President Joe Biden for the top spot in the race for the Democratic nomination.

The most recent surveys in the other early voting states as well as national polls also suggest a two-way battle between Warren and Biden for the nomination.

But Warren – at least publicly – is not paying attention to the numbers.

Speaking with reporters after holding a town hall at Keene State College, Warren said: “I don’t do polls. It’s 4½ months until the first caucus in Iowa and until our first primary here in New Hampshire.”

Warren’s campaign said roughly 900 people attended the campaign event in Keene.

Among those in the audience were Kathi Borden from nearby Spofford.

She backed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

“I like Bernie. But I think there are candidates who are more electable. There are so many strong candidates this time,” Borden noted.

And she shared that, “I think I may be inching towards her (Warren) at this point after being undecided for a long time.”

Mary Griffin-Bales from Swanzey Lake also made the drive to see Warren.

She supported eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in the primary four years ago.

She remains undecided, noting that Democratic candidates are “all really good.”

But she highlighted that she was impressed that Warren “worked her way up from the bottom … a working mother who went back to school.”

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