Moderates battle for edge in crowded lane ahead of New Hampshire

Moderates battle for edge in crowded lane ahead of New Hampshire

NASHUA, N.H. — Moderate Democratic presidential hopefuls crisscrossed the Granite State on Sunday as they battle for an edge in a crowded lane among New Hampshire voters.

In Nashua, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown Harris's office undergoes difficult reset The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron MORE drew more than 1,800 people to his first town hall of the day, his largest crowd of the year.

The crowd held “Pete for America” signs and repeatedly broke into chants of "Boot-Edge-Edge!"

ADVERTISEMENT

Buttigieg made the case for nominating a moderate, saying he has the pragmatism and positions to attract “future former Republicans” who are uneasy with voting for President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania ​​Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors Iran thinks it has the upper hand in Vienna — here's why it doesn't MORE.

He also leaned into his experience as a small-town mayor, saying state-level executives have to deal with the real problems that ordinary Americans face every day.

“Mayors have to get things done,” Buttigieg said. “That problem-solving instinct that mayors have is just one reason why we have to start getting Washington to look like our best-run cities and towns instead of the other way around.”

Buttigieg’s comments come after former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMarcus Garvey's descendants call for Biden to pardon civil rights leader posthumously GOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania ​​Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors MORE hit Buttigieg over his experience in the Midwestern city, in a much-discussed ad Saturday, arguing that it is not enough alone to be commander in chief.

Biden traveled to New Hampshire’s Sea Coast on Sunday, speaking at a GOTV event at a hotel in Hampton. Biden spoke passionately about his experience in politics, but detailed the urgency needed to defeat Trump.

“We can talk a lot about the differences between Bernie, Pete, Amy and me,” Biden said. “I think there’s a lot of differences we have, but not on the fundamental issue — how to restore America’s character. We go about it differently, and folks, we have got to get it done.”

Mike Haggerty, an independent from Portsmouth supporting Buttigieg, told The Hill that Biden would garner more support if he was continuously fired up and passionate when addressing voters on the trail.

“If he did what he did today, when he’s very passionate about it, he would get elected hands down,” Haggerty said, expressing doubts that Biden would perform well in the state’s primary.

Biden received a standing ovation during his speech at the McIntyre-Shaheen Hundred Club event in Manchester on Saturday, in what was seen by voters as an energetic address.

“What strikes me about Joe Biden is he’s aspirational,” said Dave Lerrow, a visiting Connecticut voter. "The last minute of it was phenomenal because he was speaking from the heart."

While he dominated the race in state and national poling in the run-up to the first contests, voters have also taken note of Biden’s loss in Iowa and lackluster poll numbers in New Hampshire.

A CNN poll of New Hampshire released on Saturday showed Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Abortion access for 65M women at stake Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan Sanders urges Biden to delay Medicare premium hike linked to Alzheimer's drug MORE (I-Vt.) leading the primary field with 28 percent support from likely Democratic primary voters, followed by Buttigieg with 21 percent.

Biden came in third place with 11 percent support.

A number of voters have also signaled they want new, diverse blood at the top of the Democratic ticket.

“I am tired of old, white men,” Monica, an undecided Nashua voter, leaning toward Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren calls on big banks to follow Capital One in ditching overdraft fees Crypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection MORE told The Hill at an event for Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSunday shows preview: Multiple states detect cases of the omicron variant Biden should seek some ideological diversity House passes bipartisan bills to strengthen network security, cyber literacy MORE (D-Minn.). “Why can’t in America, can we elect a woman? My God, we need a woman president. We need that viewpoint.”

Klobuchar, who has struggled to break into the race’s top tier, has created buzz in New Hampshire, drawing a crowd of more than 730 in Manchester on Sunday, and 1,000 later in Nashua.

Her supporters and undecided voters lined up outside of a Nashua middle school on Sunday afternoon, standing in 28 degree weather as it began to snow, with hopes of meeting the Minnesota senator.

The events follow a widely praised debate performance on Friday night. The senator said she had raised $3 million since the debate. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“She did very well at the debate Friday night,” Julie, an undecided Nashua voter, said. “I do like Amy a lot. I thought that this would be a chance to see her not in the debate, and in a more friendly locale.”

“I am in the middle. I’m a moderate. I feel like at this point I have three choices,” she said. “Part of the decision is, is she inspirational? How does she interact with a crowd because I think the three of them appear now to be different from one another.” 

Jonathan Easley and Cate Martel contributed.