On the trail: Two long-shot 2020 Dems vow to remain in the race

  • Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland PAUL STEINHAUSER / For the Monitor

For the Monitor
Published: 8/22/2019 6:11:52 PM
Modified: 8/22/2019 6:11:40 PM

The day after Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee dropped out of the race for the White House, two even longer-shots for the Democratic presidential nomination say they’re staying put.

Congressman Tim Ryan vowed that “we’re going to keep going. We’re getting momentum.”

Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland says, “I’m going to stick around period.”

In interviews Thursday with the Monitor, Ryan and Delaney both acknowledged they won’t reach the polling and fundraising thresholds for next month’s third round of Democratic presidential nomination debates but aim to return to the stage for October’s fourth round of debates. Candidates have until the middle of next week to hit the criteria.

“We’re continuing to build it out so hopefully for the next one we’ll be back, which will be exciting to be on the stage,” said Ryan, an Ohio Democrat.

Ryan pointing to his performance in last month’s second round of debates, when he repeatedly criticized Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – the Democratic Party’s top two progressive standard-bearers – over their Medicare-for-all plans.

“People are seeing me as the moderate alternative to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren,” he said.

Ryan went to law school in the Granite State and has been a frequent visitor in 2017, when he started mulling a White House run. 

“We come here to New Hampshire and do the backyard parties with 40, 50, 60 people and we come out with four, five, six volunteers saying ‘I’m with you and I want to help you build this thing out.’ So we’re just going to keep going,” he said.

With nearly six months to go until New Hampshire’s presidential primary, Ryan said it is still very early in the nominating process.

“People from New Hampshire deserve to hear from all of these candidates and they’re going to keep hearing from me,” he said.

Delaney to stick it out

Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland says he’s not dropping out.

“I think in many ways this thing is just getting started,” Delaney said Thursday in an interview in Concord with the Monitor. “Most Americans are finally dialing in on the Democratic primary and I think we’ve got a long way to go.”

Delaney was the first Democrat to jump into the presidential race, declaring his candidacy in July of 2017, just six months into Republican President Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House. He’s arguably the most centrist candidate in the record-setting field of more than 20 Democratic contenders.

“When the field gets smaller and other moderates peel out, I become the alternative to Joe Biden,” Delaney confidently predicted.

Taking aim at the former vice president – who’s the clear front-runner in the nomination race right now – Delaney said he has “a bunch of new ideas” compared to Biden.

“He’s running very much on President Obama’s playbook, which was great for 2008-2016, but I think for 2020-28 we’ve got whole new set of challenges relating to economic and technological disruption and as best I can tell, the vice president have a plan for any of that,” Delaney said.

Bernie’s battle to meet N.H. expectations

One-time long-shot Sen. Bernie Sanders crush of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire’s February 2016 Democratic presidential primary launched the independent from Vermont into a marathon battle with the party’s eventual nominee.

That overwhelming win in 2016 raises expectations in 2020 as Sanders runs a second straight time for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“It’s critical to win this state,” Sanders national campaign manager Faiz Shakir told the Monitor on Thursday, during a stop in New Hampshire.

“We will invest and are investing the resources, the manpower, the volunteers, the money into winning this state,” Shakir said. “Forty-five staff, five field offices, the highest number of individual donations of any presidential candidate from this state, the highest donor base, volunteer base in this state.”

Shakir acknowledged that Sander’s monster win in the Granite State in 2016 is both a help and a hindrance.

“We’ve benefited by the fact that he ran before. I think we’re not benefited by the fact that he did very well before, so the bar has been raised for us. The bar is super high,” he explained.

The 2016 race was essentially a two-person contest between Clinton and Sanders. It’s a very different race this time around.

“It gets harder of course, in that kind of scenario. There are a lot of dynamics here that are difficult to manage in terms of expectations,” Shakir noted.

Looking ahead to February’s primary, Shakir predicted that higher turnout would benefit Sanders. And he said his team’s job right now is to reach out to voters who are “not living or breathing the campaign.”

Kasich returning to N.H.

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich will likely visit the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state in the middle or at the end of next month next, Kasich advisers told the Monitor.

A trip by the very vocal critic of Republican President Donald Trump – first reported by the Washington Post – will spark further speculation that Kasich is seriously weighing a long-shot GOP primary challenge against the president.

“The governor’s never closed the door to challenging Trump,” senior adviser John Weaver said.

Trump easily won the 2016 GOP presidential primary in New Hampshire, launching him toward winning the Republican nomination and eventually the White House. Kasich came in second behind Trump, but ahead of the rest of the large field of GOP contenders. He eventually ended his White House bid late in the primary calendar but never endorsed Trump during the general election and to date remains critical of the president.

“Our organization in New Hampshire has stayed very solid since the 2016 primary,” Weaver highlighted.

And he added that “in fact it’s grown” given the way Trump has handled himself as president.

“It’s the prudent thing to do, to visit the state not only to talk to our team members but also to New Hampshire citizens about the process and their role in it,” Weaver explained.

And he emphasized that Kasich – a fiscally conservative longtime congressman before serving two terms as Ohio’s governor – has seen an increase in overtures by supporters urging him to run in 2020, due to their concerns about the president’s handling of the economy. He added that more business leaders have reached out, “concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior on trade policy.”

Kasich’s visited New Hampshire a handful of times since ending his presidential campaign, most recently last November following the midterm elections.

“I really don’t know what I’m going to do,” Kasich told the Monitor at that time, emphasizing that “all the options are on the table.”

“I have to see what the situation is and whether I could really have an impact. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time if there’s not a clear path to having a major impact,” Kasich explained.

The obvious early voting state to make a stand against Trump would be New Hampshire, a purple state with a strong libertarian streak that allows independent voters to cast ballots in either the GOP or Democratic presidential primaries.

But even though Kasich retains a small group of solid supporters in the state, any path to winning the nomination still seems far-fetched at best.

The president enjoys strong support among Granite State Republicans. The latest evidence: a poll this month from the University of New Hampshire showing Trump with an 82 percent approval score among Republicans.

There’s already a Republican challenging Trump in the primaries – former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who officially launched his bid in April. He’s been making near-weekly trips to New Hampshire since February, including a stop to the Pembroke Old Home Day this Saturday. But he’s failed – to date – to make a dent in the polls.

Last week, former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford visited New Hampshire, as he mulls a primary challenge against Trump. Sanford told the Monitor he’ll decide by around Labor Day if he’s going to mount what he has conceded would be a “long-shot ” GOP primary bid against the president.

Aides say the trip and the feedback Sanford received may make him more likely to run.

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