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Biden and a bagel for breakfast in downtown Concord

  • Former vice president Joe Biden talks with voters at The Works in downtown Concord on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Former New Hampshire Senate president Sylvia Larsen says goodbye to Joe Biden in front of The Works in downtown Concord on Tuesday, May 14, 2109 as he heads to another event in Nashua. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden heads down Main Street in Concord after campaigning with voters at The Works downtown on Tuesday, May 14, 2109. He was with both Sylvia Larsen and former Governor John Lynch. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

For the Monitor
Published: 5/14/2019 4:50:02 PM

John Bresler says he goes to The Works Café on Main Street in downtown Concord each weekday morning for coffee and a bagel.

On Tuesday, Joe Biden was also on the menu.

The former vice president and front-runner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination spent about an hour chatting with customers and Democratic politicians gathered at the eatery. It was Biden’s fourth stop during a two-day swing through the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state.

Bresler, a former Merrimack County Democratic Party chairman who sells political printing, enjoyed close up access with Biden.

Sitting at a table across from Biden, Bresler asked the former vice president why he highlighted the violent clashes at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 that left one person dead when declaring his candidacy. At the time, Republican President Donald Trump made controversial equivocating comments, saying after the clashes that there were “very fine people on both sides.”

Biden cited the Charlottesville episode as an opening salvo in his campaign to try and oust Trump from the White House. In a video announcing his bid, the former vice president charged that “with those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.”

“I really liked his launch speaking about Charlottesville,” Bresler said afterward.

Bresler said he likes Biden, but at this early stage in the primary process – and with a record-setting field of Democratic candidates that now has reached 23 contenders – he remains undecided on whom he’ll back for the nomination.

“I intend to wait until Labor Day. I like the process,” he said.

Bresler sat at table with Biden, as well as former four-term governor John Lynch, New Hampshire House of Representatives Speaker Steve Shurtleff, former state Senate president Sylvia Larsen, and state Rep. Mary Freitas of Manchester, all longtime friends and allies of Biden.

Lynch is far from undecided. He endorsed Biden the same day the former vice president launched his campaign.

“I’ve known him for a long time. He is who he is. He’s authentic, genuine, caring and compassionate,” Lynch said. “I think the world of him as much for his personal qualities as for the fact I think he has a good chance of winning, taking over the White House, and restoring a sense of decency to the White House, which I think is missing right now.”

Lynch rarely endorses in Democratic primaries.

“I generally stay out of them,” he noted. “But I’ve known Joe Biden for a long time. I campaigned with him and Barack Obama when they were on the ticket together. ... He knows New Hampshire well. I consider him a friend. And I admire him a great deal. That’s why I jumped right in.”

Shurtleff backed Biden in the then-senator from Delaware’s 2008 White House bid. But this time he’s waiting.

“I think a lot of the vice president and I think he’s extremely qualified to be president. But like a lot of people in New Hampshire, I’m still looking at all the candidates, doing my due diligence,” he told the Monitor.

The Democrat from Concord pointed out that he stayed neutral in the 2016 primary, when he served as the leader of the then-minority House Democrats. But this time around, he said he may make an endorsement, but said it wouldn’t come until autumn at the earliest.

This wasn’t Biden’s first time at The Works Cafe. He stopped by the eatery after receiving a distinguished public service award at the Warren B. Rudman Center at the University of New Hampshire School of Law in February 2015.

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