Biden visits New Hampshire for first time as 2020 candidate

Fresh off stops in Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada, former Vice President Joe Biden debuts his 2020 presidential bid in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire on Monday.

Biden has an early but substantial lead in the state, according to recent polls, with a Monmouth University survey released last week showing him leading Sen. Bernie Sanders by a two-to-one margin. The former Delaware senator’s first stop will be at a pizza parlor in downtown Hampton, flanked by state Reps. Mike Edgar, and Rep. Tom Loughman.

Bolstered by a number of early endorsements, Biden will become the 21st presidential candidate to visit the New Hampshire. Former New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch will introduce his long-time friend Monday night before a rally at Manchester Community College.

“I think New Hampshire will vote for someone they like and trust. That’s Joe Biden,” Lynch told CBS News. “Voters want a leader who will use compassion when making decisions.”

Lynch acknowledges New Hampshire’s history of voting for candidates from neighboring states could be a problem for Biden given that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are both in the race. In 2016, Sanders easily won the New Hampshire primary. Then-Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry won the primary in in 2004. And in 1992, Bill Clinton lost the primary to Sen. Paul Tsongas, another Bay Stater.

But the former New Hampshire governor points to Biden’s foreign policy experience as a distinguishing characteristic amid a crowded field of Democratic contenders. “The people of New Hampshire are very sophisticated. They care a lot about foreign policy.” Lynch continues, “One of the reasons I’m supporting the Vice President is because on day one he will be a world leader.”

Former U.S. Ambassador Terry Shumaker, who was a New Hampshire state director for President Bill Clinton, also touted Biden’s foreign policy experience while endorsing him early on. “Not only will he restore dignity and honesty to the White House,” Shumaker told CBS News, “but he can rebuild our relationships around the world, virtually overnight.”

Given the ongoing trade dispute with China, tensions with Iran, and the unrest in Venezuela, local party leaders say Biden’s diplomatic experience could give him an advantage in a campaign against President Trump.

“Many voters feel it’s important to defeat Trump in order to put the country back on track. The vice President may be able to offer up bi-partisan appeal here, reaching out to independent voters and anti-Trump Republicans,” former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan says. Over 40 percent of voters in New Hampshire are undeclared, giving them the option of voting for the Democratic or Republican ticket in February’s primary election.

Citing her role on the DNC Rules Committee, Sullivan says she will hold off on endorsing a candidate until after the party’s August meeting. The former chairwoman adds, “You look at the polls nationally. There’s a real sense he could do well.”

“Undeclared voters – they’re the largest voting block,” Lynch notes. “That says a lot about New Hampshire. The fact that people make ups their own minds, they tend to be independent.”

Biden, who represented Delaware in the Senate for 36 years, last appeared publicly in Manchester in April 2017 to keynote a Democratic Party fundraiser. “You guys, I’m not running,” he told reporters gathered in the rear of the Radisson Hotel convention center at the time.

Two years later, the former vice president returns, this time as a leading candidate for his party’s nomination.

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