Klobuchar leapfrogs to third, defies expectations

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar acknowledges the crowd at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord during her speech on Primary Night, February 11, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar acknowledges the crowd at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord after her speech on Primary Night, February 11, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar acknowledges the crowd at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord during her speech on Primary Night, February 11, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • An Amy Klobuchar supporter holds up an American flag at the Grappone Convention Center in Concord on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Published: 2/12/2020 12:56:39 AM

The results echoed the primary of four years ago, but the names in second and third place behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were hardly the ones anyone expected a few months ago.

Sanders claimed victory just as he did four years ago, and asserted the political revolution he started will carry him to the White House.

“Let me say tonight that this victory here is the beginning of the end to Donald Trump,” Sanders announced to a roaring crowd in Manchester.

Right behind Sanders was second-place finisher Pete Buttigieg, whose last name was once unpronounceable for Granite State voters, and now thunders with the chant of “Boot-Edge-Edge.” The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, remained a few thousand votes behind Sanders, solidifying his top-tier status in his quest for the Democratic nomination.

“Now our campaign moves on to Nevada and South Carolina and across the country, and we will welcome new allies to our movement at every step,” Buttigieg said from Nashua.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar pulled off a New Hampshire stunner. Iowa’s fifth-place finisher a week ago catapulted over Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden into third place.

But as much as the men at the top felt good about their performance, the women in third and fourth place put them on notice.

“People told me, like they told Elizabeth, they didn’t think a woman could be elected, in my case, it was elected to U.S. Senate. I came back, I defied expectations,” Klobuchar declared, citing Warren.

“A lot of people predicted I wouldn’t even get through that first speech, but not the people of my state, and not the people of New Hampshire,” Klobuchar told the crowd at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.

Warren, who clung to a fourth-place finish, congratulated Klobuchar “for showing just how wrong the pundits can be when they count a woman out.”

However, while complimenting Sanders and Buttigieg for their “strong nights,” Warren warned that some of the campaign tactics she saw, including negative ads and insults by supporters, stand to divide the party.

“These harsh tactics might work if you’re willing to burn down the rest of the party in order to be the last man standing,” Warren said. “They might work if you don’t worry about leaving our party and our politics worse off than how you found it. They might work if you think only you have all the answers and only you are the solution to all our problems.”

Warren had kinder words for Klobuchar.

“Amy and I are the only candidates in this race who are not billionaires or supported by Super PACs. And, unlike other candidates, I don’t fund my campaign by spending time behind closed doors sucking up to wealthy donors,” Warren said in a reference to Buttigieg.

Biden was far from New Hampshire by the time he cemented a fifth-place finish in the state. He left earlier in the day while polls were still open to head to South Carolina, where his supporters expect a stronger finish.

Tuesday’s results proved fatal for several campaigns.

Businessman Andrew Yang and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet both called it quits Tuesday night, while former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick said he would re-evaluate his efforts.

Burning for Sanders

In his victory speech, Sanders echoed his consistent major campaign issues of passing the Green New Deal, Medicare-For-All and canceling student debt. He said the government needs to take power away from Wall Street and big corporations and put it back into the hands of the people.

“Our campaign is not just about beating Trump, it is about transforming this country. It is about having the courage to take on Wall Street, the insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry.”

He thanked his volunteers and expressed his respect for all of the other democratic candidates running against him.

“The reason I believe we are going to win is that we have an unprecedented grassroots movement from coast to coast,” Sanders said. “We are going to win because we have the agenda that speaks to the needs of working people across this country.”

Ben Greenslade, 28, a student at UNH Law in Concord was in the crowd. He said the energy and enthusiasm he’s seen from Sanders supporters is unmatched.

“I think people are tired of the system, I think people are starting to recognize that Donald Trump isn’t just the problem, he’s a symptom of the deeper problems and I think Bernie’s the kind of candidate that’s really talking about those problems, that’s addressing them,” he said.

He said he thinks a lot has changed since 2016, when Sanders lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton.

“If Bernie hadn’t won New Hampshire in 2016, I think the stage would look a lot different and I think we’d be in a much worse position to be able to challenge Trump in 2020. But we built that momentum then, and it hasn’t gone away. It’s only become stronger.”

“People are scared of what he’s doing because it’s going to be a change, but it’s going to be for the better,” he added.

Greenslade, a childhood cancer survivor, said a large part of his support for Sanders comes from the candidate’s commitment to making health care accessible for all Americans.

“You can work hard your entire life and still be living on the poverty line. A devastating thing can happen to you any time,” he said. “Nobody should go bankrupt because they don’t have health care. You shouldn’t be working three or four jobs and not be able to support yourself.”

The crowd was mixed with New Hampshire residents, and many visitors from out-of-state who had come to canvas for Sanders ahead of the primary.

‘President Pete’

Packed into a basketball court at the Nashua Community College, the Buttigieg crowd showed up determined to come alive. Chants of “Boot-edge-edge,” a phonetical play on his name, and “President Pete” rang from the rafters.

Surrogates from Jennifer Frizzell to former Congressional candidate Maura Sullivan took the stage to tout the former mayor’s status as a veteran and the first openly gay candidate to run for president.

Finally, the candidate emerged.

“Thanks to you a campaign that some said shouldn’t be here at all has shown that we are here to stay,” he said to roars.

Throughout his prepared speech, Buttigieg steered away from direct criticism, making a point of praising Sanders and other candidates on stage.

But he did draw a subtle contrast with Sanders, whose voters have at times fiercely opposed moderate opponents.

“We can’t beat the most divisive president in American history by tearing down anybody who doesn’t agree with us 100% of the time,” Buttigieg said.

For many of the younger supporters in the crowd, the young candidate’s energy appealed from the start of his campaign. He’s a “fresh face,” as Steve Hebsch, of Litchfield, put it, and one that he could most easily see turning the country around.

“I like that he was consistently just refreshing to listen to,” added Elizabeth Thayer, also of Litchfield.

Emmaline Boisvert, a Nashua resident, felt connected to Buttigieg nearly from the start. It was his interesting name that started it, she said.

Then the rest fell into place when she looked at his policies. Student debt relief and opt-in government health insurance are big ones for Boisvert, a college junior.

“Being able to have that health insurance be an option when I’m 26 and I’m off (my parents’) plan will be amazing,” she said.

And even as networks called New Hampshire for Sanders, Buttigieg painted Tuesday’s result as a historic feat.

“One day books will tell not just of one election but the era that began out here in New Hampshire,” he said.

Klobuchar’s rise

Karen Cornelius of Goffstown and Tom Sax of Chicago had good reason to believe that Klobuchar was the right person for the job.

They went to law school with Klobuchar 37 years ago at the University of Chicago School of Law, meaning they had more insight into her real personality than others at the post-primary gathering Tuesday night. Klobuchar was funny, her friends said, but Cornelius and Sax saw the qualities that made Klobuchar a viable contender.

She was head of the law school caucus in Chicago. And, her friends said, she showed great leadership qualities, even when the three students were barely 20.

“She made speaking and dealing with people look easy,” Cornelius said. “We had a class and it was fun because of her, which is a strange thing to say about law school.”

Sax recalled the time in law school when the professor asked students to include on their resumes all the publications they had written in their young lives. Sax hadn’t published anything by then. Klobuchar had.

“I turned to Amy and I didn’t know her yet,” Sax said. “She said she had already published a book by then. That’s what I remember about Amy.”

Sax said their friendship gave him a unique perspective on the Minnesota senator.

“She always had people skills,” Sax said. “She was quick-witted, smart and fun.”

At her rally Tuesday, like she has done on the campaign trail, Klobuchar underscored her roots, including her grandfather who worked in Minnesota’s mines.

“He never graduated from high school because his parents were sick and he had nine brothers and sisters,” she said.

“No matter where you come from, no matter who you know, no matter the color of your skin, no matter where you worship, no matter who you love, you can make it in the United States of America,” she said.

She will apply her own resilience in her quest for the White House, she said.

“I defied expectations, and I won over and over again in the reddest of red districts, in the bluest of blue districts,” she said. “America deserves a president who doesn’t give up or give in just because a decision is hard.”

What’s next for Warren

At the Warren campaign headquarters, Laura Davis, 40, said she would support Sanders as the nominee if he is chosen, even if Warren is her first choice.

“He is my second choice. I hope that he brings Elizabeth Warren along with him, as vice president. I would like to see her as the first female president, but I’d be happy with the vice president, too.

Davis said she was inspired by Warren’s story and her commitment to making college accessible and affordable. Davis started college before she had her five children but dropped out to help pay for it. She wasn’t able to go back while she was raising her children.

“Seeing that she was able to accomplish everything and she didn’t quit being a mother, that inspired me.”

Warren herself was far from folding up camp. At her speech, she said 98 percent of the delegates were up for grabs and continued to express confidence in her own campaign.

“This fight we’re in – the fight to save our democracy – is an uphill battle,” Warren said. “But our campaign is built for the long haul. And we are just getting started.”

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