With just two days left before voters in New Hampshire take to the polls and concern about low voter turnout after embarrassing technical issues that plagued the Iowa caucuses, Democratic presidential candidates are on the ground throughout the Granite State this weekend.
This follows the latest debate, held Friday night at St. Anselm's College in Manchester.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are tied for the lead in polls released by Monmouth University and the Boston Globe/Suffolk University.
Buttigieg and Sanders came out of the Iowa caucus on top, while Joe Biden looks to make up lost ground, after finishing fourth there.
Despite disappointment in Iowa, Biden says he’s confident he can turn things around in other states with more diverse populations and he remains focused on electability, even though many are still undecided.
The battle for momentum in New Hampshire on Saturday night took center stage at the annual McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, which takes on extra significance every four years.
The presidential candidates spoke to thousands of their party faithful at the event, hosted by the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
At the event held in the SNHU Arena in Manchester, Biden attacked Trump saying, “We’re being led by a president, a president who has no empathy, no sympathy, who mocks people, who makes fun of people with disabilities, who does everything he can to demean, he doesn’t have a shred of decency in him.”
Earlier in the day on the grueling campaign trail, Biden shared a moment with a child who shares a name with his late son, showing he's using not just attacks, but empathy, in his appeal to Granite State voters.
“I’ve lost a lot in my lifetime like many of you have,” he said. “But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna stand by and lose my country, too.”
Olympic gold medalist Michelle Kwan was in Manchester, opening for the former vice president, and told the audience that he was the best chance at defeating President Donald Trump in the November election.
Determined not to lose to a small town mayor, Biden has sharpened his criticism of Buttigieg, pointing to his comparatively thin resume.
While Buttigieg has compared himself in some ways to President Barack Obama, who also drew criticism over his experience, Biden told voters in New Hampshire that "this guy's not a Barack Obama.''
"I do believe we’re a party at risk if we nominate someone who has never held a higher office than South Bend, Indiana, yeah I do," Biden said Saturday in Manchester.
It was an attack echoed in a biting digital advertisement released by Biden on Saturday afternoon where he mocks Buttigieg, calling out of his lack of experience with national politics. The advertisement compares Biden's record on issues such as nuclear threats from Iran and assault weapons to issues that may seem more trivial, such as pet chipping and sidewalk revitalization.
The video features whimsical music played behind a narrator describing Buttigieg's accomplishments, and mentions that he "forced out" the first black police chief and fire chief that South Bend had.
The Buttigeg campaign was quick to rebuke the ad, saying, “The Vice President’s decision to run this ad speaks more to where he currently stands in this race than it does about Pete’s perspective as a mayor and veteran.”
Biden told voters that experience means more than having a new voice in the White House.
"The reason I'm running is because of my experience, not in spite of it," Biden said.
In response to such taunts, Buttigieg told an audience at a Democratic Party dinner in Manchester on Saturday night that small rural towns in industrial communities and elsewhere are ready for someone to take their voice to Washington.
Buttigieg is highlighting his experience running a city to generate support around the country. He was back in front of voters hours after taking the debate stage as he made several stops Saturday to see his supporters, which even included actor Michael J Fox, who came out to speak for the presidential hopeful.
Though the campaign of Buttigieg has said their candidate has been surging in recent days, Sanders has led many polls in New Hampshire.
Sanders sought to amp up his New Hampshire supporters Saturday, in the final stretch before Tuesday’s primary.
“It is not me, it is us,” Sanders told a crowd in Dover, repeating a line that has become the slogan of his 2020 presidential campaign.
The U.S. senator from Vermont asked supporters Saturday to help him deliver a robust voter turnout Tuesday, believing that is key to a strong performance.
At another stop in Rochester, Sanders told more than a thousand people his presidency would put a laser focus on building an economy that benefits working people—not wealthy elites—through steps like raising the federal minimum wage, lowering drug prices, making public colleges tuition-free, and moving toward a Medicare-for-all government-run health insurance program.
“Real change never takes place from the top on down—always from the bottom on up,” Sanders said in Rochester.
That message reached enthusiastic New Hampshire voters like Amy Michael of Somersworth.
“He was my candidate last time; he’s my candidate this time,” Michael said.
Others in the audience were still working to finalize their decision.
“I still am not certain,” said Brian Vanbenschoten of Rochester, noting he has more research into candidates to do in the coming days, including attending other in-person speaking events with candidates.
“I was going for Pete [Buttigieg], then Amy [Klobuchar], then Joe Biden, but I think Tuesday, he’s got my vote,” Marlene Brooks of Rochester said of Sanders.
Sanders, his surrogates, and volunteers have a busy day of events Sunday across the state, as primary day approaches.
New Hampshire’s still large number of undecided voters have different priorities. Some want a progressive, some want experience, and there are those who think the time has come for a woman.
“I really would like to see a woman be elected because we’ve never had one,” Linda Beail said.
For voters who want a woman in the White House, there is a decision to be made.
“Right now, my top choices are between Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar,” Arden Martinez said. “So I’m still undecided.”
Warren has a long-established New Hampshire connection with deep grass roots. Her events are consistently packed.
Warren is trying to win over voters of a state just across the border from her constituency. After Friday's debate, she tweeted that she was close to hitting her fundraising goal of $2 million, and asked supporters to chip in $3.
But Klobuchar is surging, drawing her own overflow crowds, raising $2 million in the past 24 hours and getting noticed on the debate stage.
They are from different ideological ends of the spectrum, the progressive versus the moderate.
But both are working around the clock to convince those undecided voters that they are the woman who can win.
That’s what Beail, an undecided voter, was trying to decide at a Warren event on Saturday.
"And we’re going to hear Amy [Klobuchar] tomorrow," she said. "And we’re going to try to make up our minds."
The bottom line is that most voters torn between Warren and Klobuchar will make their decision based on which candidate they think can beat Trump.