By Paul Steinhauser | Fox News
MANCHESTER, N.H. – Is Amy Klobuchar for real?
It’s the biggest question in the political word on Tuesday – as New Hampshire voters cast ballots in the first primary in the race for the White House.
Klobuchar – the centrist senator from Minnesota who has appeared to surge following a strong performance at Friday night’s debate – told reporters while stopping a polling state on Tuesday morning that “we’re going to be able to do this. I’m really excited.”
Klobuchar finished fifth last week in the caucuses in the neighboring state of Iowa. But she’s hoping that thanks to her last-minute momentum, she can edge out Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice President Joe Biden for third place, behind New Hampshire front-runners Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Independent voters – who make up 40 percent of the state’s electorate – as well as the remaining large percentage of truly undecided voters will likely determine if Klobuchar gets a bounce or is a bust.
Veteran New Hampshire political scientist Dante Scala pointed out that while Sanders’ base is “proving to be the most durable … a lot of those undecided voters are not Bernie voters.”
“I thought last week that Mayor Pete could consolidate those voters. But Friday night’s debate seemed stalled him out a bit, stole his thunder. If there’s a surprise tonight, I’m thinking it’s Klobuchar,” added Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire.
“That Klobuchar bounce in the polls out of the debate could prove to be one of those classic New Hampshire stories,” he added.
And if that bounce occurs, it comes at Buttigieg’s expense.
Biden bolts New Hampshire — before polls even close
Joe Biden headed south.
The former vice president abruptly announced on Tuesday morning that he wouldn’t spend primary night in New Hampshire as planned and instead flew to South Carolina to headline a newly scheduled kick-off rally in the state he’s long considered his campaign firewall.
“We’re going to head to South Carolina tonight,” Biden told reporters as he visited a polling station with voting underway in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House. “And I’m going to Nevada… we’ve got to look at them all.”
Nevada and South Carolina follow New Hampshire – which is an overwhelmingly white state – in the presidential nominating calendar. Biden’s campaign has long considered Nevada and South Carolina – with their far more diverse electorates – as much friendlier ground for the former vice president.
Biden, who limped into New Hampshire after a lackluster fourth-place finish in last week’s Iowa caucuses, said Monday night to his supporters: “Stick with me 24 hours and we’re going to be just fine. We’re going to win this nomination.”
On Tuesday he said he was still “mildly hopeful” about his prospects in New Hampshire, while also downplaying expectations consistently for the Granite State.
After visiting numerous polling stations during the morning and afternoon, Biden took off for South Carolina in the late afternoon.
Biden’s departure was seen as a sign that his prospects for a third-place finish in New Hampshire were fading fast. A strong finish in the Granite State was thought to be critical — if only to prevent an exodus of donors and the possible erosion of his so-called “firewall” of support in the looming South Carolina contest.
Pro-Biden super PAC warns of ‘doomsday scenario’
A super PAC supporting Biden’s White House bid is urging donors to “dig deep right now” into their pockets and is warning that if Biden’s campaign collapses, Democrats could face “a doomsday scenario.”
The memo on Monday from the Unite the Country super PAC – which was obtained by Fox News – was seen as a signal of deep concerns among Biden supporters about the former vice president’s White House prospects. It warned that “donors hedging their bets on Biden because of [Mike] Bloomberg could be creating a doomsday scenario for the Democrats everywhere.”
The memo, written by Unite the Country treasurer Larry Rasky, argues that the “[Bernie] Sanders-[Elizabeth] Warren wing of the Party is ready for the Bloomberg fight. Democrats cannot afford a split Convention.” And it predicts that “if Bernie has more delegates, do you really think the Bros will make way for Mike?” (The “Bros” refers to hardcore Sanders supporters.)
Warren campaign takes shots at Sanders, Buttigieg and Biden
Warren’s hoping to match her third-place finish in Iowa with an equal performance in New Hampshire, which borders her home state of Massachusetts. The progressive firebrand senator emphasized to reporters during a primary day stop to thank supporters and volunteers at the University of New Hampshire in Durham that she’s in the White House race for the long haul, touting that “we’re in 30 states now.”
And in a lengthy Election Day memo outlining their path forward in the fractured Democratic primary, Warren’s campaign manager drew the sharpest contrasts to date with her leading rivals, arguing that Sanders has a political “ceiling,” that Biden is at risk of seeing his support collapse, and that Buttigieg will struggle as the race moves on to more diverse states.Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.
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