On the trail: Kuster to show support for Buttigieg in Concord

  • Congresswoman Annie Kuster (left) shakes hands with 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg at a campaign event in New London on Oct. 25. Courtesy of Pete for America

For the Monitor
Published: 1/16/2020 6:27:04 PM

Congresswoman Annie Kuster on Friday will appear with Pete Buttigieg at Concord’s Grappone Center to to formally show her support for the former South Bend, Ind., mayor for the Democratic presidential nomination.

There’s still a dozen Democrats running for the White House and Kuster this week revealed she was endorsing Buttigieg.

“It was a long process but it wasn’t difficult in the end to make the choice” to back Buttigieg, Kuster said in an interview the Monitor

The four-term lawmaker who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District said she weighed the candidates very seriously as well as up close.

“I had a unique opportunity to campaign with almost all the candidates” when they came to New Hampshire, she said. “The silver lining was I was able to watch Granite Staters respond to the different candidates in real time and at the end of the day, I felt that Pete hold a Buttigieg was the person that was inspiring people about his vision for the future.”

She was undeterred with Buttigieg’s lack of Washington experience or his young age – at 37 he’s the youngest candidate in the Democratic field.

“What I’m excited about is a new approach, a fresh approach of bringing people together rather than sort of locked in gridlock and perspective of Washington and Capitol Hill the way it’s been the last few years,” she said. “What Pete does bring is a perspective from a community that’s looking toward Washington for solutions, for support, for help and I think that’s an equally valid experience.”

Kuster noted that in the 2008 election cycle she campaigned for then-senator Barack Obama of Illinois – another young politician who had only two years of Washington experience when he launched his presidential campaign.

“One of the things I’m very excited about is that he (Buttigieg) is bringing together a number of people from the Obama policy shop that I’ve worked with in the past,” she said.

But the past is not her focus.

“I’m looking to the future and that’s how I went about my decision,” she said.

Buttigieg was the longest of long-shots when he declared his candidacy a year ago. He quickly started to rise in the polls and enjoyed a surge in fundraising in the spring and summer. He made another jump in October and November, joining former vice president Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as part of the top tier of candidates in polls in New Hampshire and Iowa, which lead off the presidential primary and caucus nominating calendar.

But he’s seen some slippage in his support in the most recent surveys in both states the past few weeks. With the Iowa and New Hampshire contents just a couple of weeks away, the endorsement of Kuster as well as the backing Sunday from longtime Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa, come at a very opportune time.

Buttigieg still struggles to gain traction with African-American voters – who will have a very influential role in South Carolina – which votes in late February – as well as in the Super Tuesday states in early March. That means strong finishes in both Iowa and New Hampshire are critical for Buttigieg as he battles for the Democratic nomination.

Trump back in N.H.?

There’s a good chance Republican President Donald Trump will hold a large rally in the Granite State on the eve of the primary.

GOP sources confirmed to the Monitor that Trump re-election campaign aides and Republican officials, both in Washington and in New Hampshire, are targeting Feb. 10 as the date for the quick trip by the president to the state that gave him his first victory in his 2016 march toward the Republican nomination and eventually the White House. But they say the date has yet to be locked in.

There are only a few venues in New Hampshire large enough and secure enough to hold a rally by the president. The most obvious venue would be the Southern New Hampshire University Arena in downtown Manchester. Trump packed the arena with rallies on the eve of the 2016 primary and on the eve of the November 2016 presidential election. He returned to the SNHU arena last August for a re-election rally.

But there’s an issue. The New Hampshire Democratic Party is holding their large McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner – which is expected to attract all of the remaining Democratic presidential candidates – on the night of Feb. 8. That’s two days before primary eve – and wouldn’t give the president’s campaign much time to build up for a Trump rally – which normally takes more time to complete.

The state Democratic Party predicts that a Trump visit just ahead of the primary will energize Democratic voters.

NHDP communications director Holly Shulman the likely trip “is the best thing that could have happened to New Hampshire Democrats.”

The president is also holding a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 30, just days before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, which will kick off the presidential nominating calendar.

Sanders returns

Sen. Bernie Sanders returns to New Hampshire this weekend.

It will be the populist firebrand from Vermont’s first time back on the campaign trail since the on-stage shots between Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren at Tuesday’s presidential nomination debate in Iowa over whether or not he told the Massachusetts senator that a woman couldn’t win the presidency in the 2020 election.

“Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t say it,” Sanders insisted at the debate. And minutes later, he unequivocally denied that the conversation took place.

Warren then said she disagreed with the notion that a woman candidate couldn’t defeat President Trump in November’s general election.

At the end of the debate, Warren refused to shake Sanders’s hand as the two progressive standard-bearers had a brief, heated conversation.

“I think you called me a liar on national television,” Warren told Sanders.

Sanders kicks off his weekend Granite State swing with an afternoon town hall in Exeter. He’ll then hold a rally Saturday evening in Manchester. On Sunday, the independent senator, who’s making his second-straight White House bid, will be in Concord at 11 a.m. for a candidate forum at New Hampshire Public Radio’s studio. Later, he will town hall in Conway.

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