On the trail: Sanders says he’s taking ‘nothing for granted’ in N.H. primary

  • U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt. addresses the crowd outside the New Hampshire State House on Thursday, October 31, 2019. Sanders held a rally after filing for the primary at the Secretary of State office earlier in the day. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., gets a hug outside the State House on Thursday. Sanders held a rally after filing for the primary at the Secretary of State’s office earlier in the day. Sanders says that he has received donations from 1 million Americans, and that the average is $16. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt. and his wife Jane wave to the crowd as he is introduced outside the New Hampshire State House on Thursday, October 31, 2019. Sanders held a rally after filing for the primary at the Secretary of State office earlier in the day. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt. addresses the crowd outside the New Hampshire State House on Thursday, October 31, 2019. Sanders held a rally after filing for the primary at the Secretary of State office earlier in the day. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., greets supporters as he arrives at the New Hampshire State House on Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., talks with 3-year-old Sidney Dutton, who came to Dos Amigos in Concord for dinner with his family on Tuesday night.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren D-Mass. shakes Martin Murray’s hand at Dos Amigos in downtown Concord on Tuesday night, October 29, 2019 as passerbys look in the window. GEOFF FORESTER

For the Monitor
Published: 10/31/2019 6:18:00 PM

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has a message for New Hampshire.

Moments after filing at the Secretary of State’s office to place his name on the first-in-the-nation presidential primary ballot for a second straight election, the populist senator from Vermont fired off, pledging another strong finish here, calling out rival Joe Biden’s fundraising and criticizing the state’s new voter requirements.

“We take nothing for granted. We have already done 30 events in this state, rallies and town meetings all over the state. We are going to be back here time and time again and we’re going to be in a community near you because we are going to mount a very aggressive campaign.”

Sanders was the third major Democrat to roll through Concord in as many days. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is currently polling in second place, was here on Tuesday and will officially file her candidacy next week. Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., who is currently polling in fourth place behind Sanders was here Wednesday, filing his papers and holding a rally at the State House. Former vice president and Democratic-front-runner Biden has yet to file.

None of this is new for Sanders, who crushed eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in the Granite State’s 2016 Democratic presidential primary, launching the one-time longshot independent senator into a marathon battle for the nomination and making him a household name.

But the 2020 nomination battle is a very different race with a record-setting field of Democratic contenders.

Sanders, who’s built up one of the largest and most formidable campaigns in the state and who enjoys the strong backing from a core group of supporters from his 2016 bid, said he planned on competing the New Hampshire way.

“We’re gonna do TV ads and radio ads and all that stuff,” he said. “But at the end of the day, what wins an election is the kind of grassroots activism that you have, whether you have supporters who are willing to knock on doors and make the phone calls and work social media. And we have thousands and thousands of volunteers in this small state.”

Taking questions from reporters minutes after he filed, Sanders – a Senator from neighboring Vermont – took aim at New Hampshire’s new voter residency law. The measure, passed when the GOP controlled both branches of the state legislature, is being challenged in the courts.

Sanders said he wants to make it easier for people to be able to vote. Targeting Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, he said “apparently, your governor thinks differently and he is going to make it harder for young people to vote with what I would call a poll tax on young people.”

“I think it is an outrage,” Sanders continued. “I think it is designed to keep young people from participating in the political process because they’re not supportive of the Republican agenda.”

Away from the action, Sununu spokesman Benjamin Vihstadt defended the governor.

 “It is a fact that New Hampshire is the easiest state in the Country to vote in. In Vermont, you must be a resident to vote in their elections. The same is now true in New Hampshire. These baseless attacks from Bernie and the other 2020 candidates are without merit, and are blatantly hypocritical when their own states place higher barriers to voting than New Hampshire ever has – or ever will.”

After paying his fee to place his name on New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary ballot, Sanders highlighted in a short speech that “we don’t have a super PAC. We don’t want a super PAC.”

It was an obvious jab at Biden, a top rival for the 2020 nomination who last week reversed himself and indicated he would be open to support from an outside group like a super PAC. A pro-Biden super PAC named “Unite the Country” formed Monday.

Asked by the Monitor during a news conference minutes later if there’s increased friction between the Sanders and Biden camps, the senator answered “if my memory is correct, Joe Biden once said, and I’m paraphrasing, is that you’ve got to be careful about people who have super PACs and who they will end up being responsible for.”

And taking a shot at the former vice president, who’s fundraising has lagged far behind both Sanders and Warren of Massachusetts in the battle for campaign cash, Sanders emphasized that “Joe, as I understand it, has not done particularly well in getting a lot of donations from working-class people.”

Sanders said his contrast with Biden couldn’t be more clear.

“I’m extraordinarily proud of this – we have received more donations than any candidate in the history of the United States of America at this point in an election. We have over a million Americans who donated to our campaign and the average donation is $16. These are working class people supporting a working class campaign.”

And the senator stressed that “Joe has not had that result and he is now forced to go to billionaires and multi-millionaires to get his funding through to his super PAC.”

Sanders, for at least the second time this week, painted a contrast with fellow populist and progressive standard bearer Warren, noting he’s been pushing for a government run Medicare-for-all health care system for decades.

Sanders explained that he may have an advantage over Warren – who’s pushing many of the same proposals Sanders made part of the Democratic mainstream in his 2016 bid for White House.

“The ideas that I am fighting for today ... are not new ideas for me. I’ve been talking about health care as a human right and Medicare-for-all for decades. I’ve been talking about the need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage for decades. I’ve been on more picket lines, I suspect, than all of my opponents combined because I am a son of the American working class.”

After speaking with reporters, Sanders headed outside to headline a rally on the State House plaza. The crowd was noticeably smaller than the one Sanders held after filing four years ago.

Warren stops by popular downtown burrito joint

Warren was in Concord earlier this week, but not to file for the primary. She’ll do that in two weeks.

After holding a town hall in Laconia, the senator drove to Concord to stop by Dos Amigos, a popular burrito restaurant on North Main Street.

The candidate spent about 45 minutes in the restaurant, chatting with patrons and taking selfies, and enjoying some chips and guacamole.




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