2020 Democrats barnstorm New Hampshire, taking aim at Trump

2020 Democrats barnstorm New Hampshire, taking aim at Trump
© Getty Images

A host of Democratic White House contenders descended upon the New Hampshire Democratic Party's convention to gin up support in the crucial primary state as Democrats' nominating contest entered a new stage. 

Speaking at the event, the candidates focused on hammering away at President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE while they avoided directly attacking one another and waxed eloquent about the generalities of their plans. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“We cannot continue to have a president who is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe and a religious bigot. That is not what America is about,” Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth Kamala Harris calls for new investigation into Kavanaugh allegations MORE (I-Vt.) told a raucous crowd. 

The convention came after the first serious winnowing of a crowded primary field, with four candidates dropping out in recent weeks.

Polls also show an increasing divide between the top three to five candidates and the rest of the pack. 

But the candidates mostly focused their ire on the current occupant of the White House instead of trying to differentiate themselves with attacks on other primary contenders. 

“We cannot, and I will not, let this man be reelected president of the United States of America. Limited to four years, I believe history will look back at this presidency as an aberrant moment in time. But if Donald Trump is reelected … he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation,” said former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth Poll: Biden holds five-point lead over Warren among New York Democrats MORE

“As this man tries to divide us and demean Americans and degrade Americans and pit us against each other, it is time for us. It's time for us as Democrats to remember who we are,” added Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Energy: Top presidential candidates to skip second climate forum | Group sues for info on 'attempts to politicize' NOAA | Trump allows use of oil reserve after Saudi attacks Poll: 33 percent of voters undecided on who won third Democratic debate Jon Bon Jovi: Booker would 'do an amazing job' as president MORE (D-N.J.).

The candidates seized on a bevy of recent controversies that have engulfed the White House, bashing Trump’s efforts to purchase Greenland from Denmark and doubling down on his assertions that Alabama was in Hurricane Dorian’s path. 

“Americans are figuring out how to afford to buy groceries, and this president gets us arguing over whether to buy Greenland,” said South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegCalifornia poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth Buttigieg unveils disaster response plan focused on communities Poll: Biden holds five-point lead over Warren among New York Democrats MORE. “Americans are picking up their possessions to evacuate before a deadly storm, and the president is picking up a Sharpie to change a weather map.”

Besides uniting in their opposition to the president, the candidates also touted widely approved platitudes within the party, such as boosting teacher pay, strengthening unions, increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans and fighting climate change.

But few candidates spent much time delving into the nitty-gritty of their plans. 

Divisions at times poked through the veneer of the unity, however, as a Democratic civil war rages on between progressives and moderates.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth Kamala Harris calls for new investigation into Kavanaugh allegations MORE (D-Mass.) took a swipe at her competition, mentioning she did not attend fundraisers with wealthy donors “behind closed doors,” while Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetPartisan divisions sharpen as independent voters fade Warren proposes new restrictions, taxes on lobbying The Hill's 12:30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers MORE (D-Colo.) said the party should not focus on a “losing battle to end private insurance,” a dig at the “Medicare for All” plans proposed by Sanders and Warren.

Yet the convention remained mostly civil among the Democrats, presenting a reprieve from a primary contest increasingly characterized by widening divisions on core party issues such as health care and climate change while Trump reemerged as public enemy No. 1.

As the convention emerged mostly as a tee time against the White House, the candidates pleaded with the Granite State’s Democrats to look past 2020, casting themselves as solutions to underlying racial and economic frustrations they say plagued the country before Trump’s election and helped precipitate his rise.

“Let me tell you right now. We gotta beat Donald Trump. But beating Donald Trump is the floor. It is not the ceiling. Beating Donald Trump gets us out of the valley, but it does not get us to the mountaintop,” said Booker. “I want to go to the mountaintop.”