Democratic presidential candidates spent Sunday campaigning in New Hampshire, trying to gain momentum heading into Tuesday's first-in-the-nation primary.
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg got a boost Sunday when the Iowa Democratic Party allocated delegates based on the results of last week’s Iowa caucuses, giving him the largest delegate count, followed closely by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Buttigieg was awarded 14 delegates, with 12 to Sanders, eight to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, six to former Vice President Joe Biden, and one to Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Klobuchar says she's plans to keep defying expectations heading into Tuesday's primary. Though she's spent the last year behind the front-runners, Klobuchar has enjoyed a burst of momentum in the last few days thanks to a strong debate performance and infusion of cash.
At a rally at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Sunday, her campaign initially set up about 250 chairs, then removed them to make room for a room-capacity crowd of more than 700. Klobuchar said there's no doubt she's surging in New Hampshire.
While the Minnesota senator is surging, former vice president Biden played down the notion that his lagging finish in the Iowa caucuses will hurt his electability.
Biden told New Hampshire voters that rivals Buttigieg and Sanders were "better organized than we were in Iowa."
Biden stressed that voters should treat the first four early voting states "as one." New Hampshire, which holds its primary, is the second early voting state, followed by Nevada and South Carolina.
The New Hampshire contest includes two candidates whom Biden described to voters as coming "from the two states next door to you.'' It's a reference to Sanders, who's a Vermont senator, and Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator.
Biden returned to the town hall format New Hampshire voters tend to pride themselves on. Before Sunday, Biden had skipped taking questions from the crowds at his New Hampshire events in January and February. Biden instead focused on greeting supporters on the rope line at these events.
While looking to keep his campaign above water on the seacoast of New Hampshire, Biden told the crowd, "I came for one reason. I need your vote.”
At his town hall in Hampton, Biden preached empathy and electability.
“I’m gonna beat him like a drum if I get the nomination,” Biden said referring to Trump.
But it was an interaction he had with a college student that made headlines.
When Madison Moore asked Biden to explain his disappointing performance in Iowa, Biden gave a bizarre response.
“Number one Iowa is a democratic caucus, ever been to a caucus? No, you haven’t. You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier.”
Moore spoke with NBC10 Boston right after the town hall, saying, “It was a little awkward being called a liar in a big town hall which he’s right I haven’t been I caved in the moment.”
Moore went on to say of Biden, “I just don’t see the momentum. I don’t see the energy in this campaign.”
But Biden drew one of his biggest crowds yet later in the day in Hudson.
While he’s tamped down expectations, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd says there’s still a lot riding on the primary for Biden.
“The question is where does he get money. He's running out of it and without winning how do you make the case you're the electability candidate,” Todd said.
It was a bizarre comment to Moore, meant to be a joke, but it came as a surprise to some Granite State voters who are already wondering if Biden really is electable.
But what wasn’t heard in Biden's stump speeches on Sunday were attacks on rival Buttigieg, which was a sharp contract to Saturday when the former vice president mocked the former mayor’s experience and said he’s no Obama.
Elizabeth Warren is determined to take the highroad in these final days till the primary making the bet that Democrats do not want their candidates to beat each other up in their quest to beat Donald Trump.
With two days until the New Hampshire primary, running third or fourth in the latest polls, Warren is sticking to the same script while her opponents are shaking it up, running attack ads and calling each other out.
“Look, we are going to have to bring our party together in order to beat Donald Trump. And the way we do this is not by launching a bunch of attacks on each other, and trying to tear each other down,” the Massachusetts senator said.
“I’ve known her for a decade. And she’s consistent. You know the fact she hasn’t forgotten why she’s in this fight,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley said of Warren. “She, like me, doesn’t pay much attention to the poll-er coaster.”
“I’m glad she’s staying out of that fray,” said Warren supporter Jessica Wheeler Russell. “And I like that I have a candidate who believes in unity.”
Supporters are confident that New Hampshire is not make or break for Warren given the deep grassroots network she has built around the country.
“As the field shrinks, she, I think, does better,” said Drew Stock, of Concord.
And there are the large number of still undecided voters.
“I like Elizabeth Warren a lot. And especially, even more, after today,” said Diana Hovey.
Warren is pushing her anti-corruption plan as a policy proposal that can appeal to Democrats, Independents and Republicans. She clearly sees her no-attack/unity strategy as a winning message in the final two days.
Buttigieg urged unity to defeat President Trump in November at a town hall event in Londonderry on Sunday night.
“We have got to build a big enough majority to not only win the presidency but to win big enough that Trumpism goes into the dustbin of history alongside the Trump White House.”
He believes he’s the right person who can win.
“This is our one shot, our one shot, to bring an end to his presidency,” he said.
He did not mention any of his Democratic competitors by name at his fourth campaign appearance of the day, except Sanders.
“I respect Senator Sanders and I think a lot of the ideas that he’s calling for tied to values that we all share,” he said. “But in a moment like this telling Americans that you’ve either got to be for a revolution or you got to be for the status quo is telling most of us we don’t belong.”
Sanders insists he doesn't want to "denigrate'' rival Buttigieg, but Sanders is pointing out to supporters in New Hampshire why he thinks Buttigieg shouldn't be the party's nominee.
During an appearance in Plymouth, Sanders began by calling Buttigieg "my friend," drawing a loud laugh from a Sanders supporters.
Then Sanders said: "We're not here to denigrate Pete, he's running a good campaign, but our views are different."
Sanders said a candidate like Buttigieg who takes campaign contributions from drug company executives or "Wall Street tycoons" won't stand up to "the corporate elite."
Sanders has made similar criticisms in the past about how his rivals raise money. But his pointed remarks toward Buttigieg comes as Sanders fights to win the New Hampshire primary in two days.
In Manchester, NBC 10 Boston asked Sanders about predictions from the Association of American Medical Colleges, which say by 2032, the nation will need a lot more physicians to serve its needs. The country could possibly be more than 120,000 doctors short, the AAMC has said.
Analysts have said the issue is most tangible when it comes to primary care doctors in rural America.
“Not only is there a shortage of doctors, there’s a shortage of nurses, there’s a shortage of dentists,” Sanders said. “And we have got to get health care professionals, especially, into areas which are grossly underserved.”
One of the signature Sanders proposals on the campaign trail is instituting a government-run health insurance program that would eliminate out-of-pocket payments at the point of service—with no premiums, deductibles, or copays.
The Trump White House believes that would be wildly expensive, and would lead to long wait times for care and a loss of patient choice.
However, advocates for a Medicare for all system don’t buy that, arguing if complicated private insurance and its big overhead costs were out of the system, that would be an improvement.
“It is not designed simply to make profits, but to provide quality care to all,” Sanders said about Medicare for all.
As for those warnings about a shortage of medical professionals? One way Sanders would start to tackle it is by making it easier for more to afford their educations.
He wants public colleges to be free and to forgive all student debt, which is often crippling. Sanders would pay for that with a new tax on Wall Street transactions, he has said.
Regarding the loan forgiveness plan, critics argue it would be too expensive, and would benefit a lot of people who can afford their student loan bills.