After Iowa, N.H., Democrats seek path through diverse states

Brian Slodysko, Julie Pace and Kathleen Hennessey
Associated Press

Washington – Democratic presidential candidates plotted their paths Wednesday into state primaries now expanding to include voters of color, while the party’s establishment braced for a long and increasingly uncertain nomination fight ahead.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ win in the New Hampshire primary set off a new round of strategizing among moderate party stalwarts searching for a way to knock the Vermont independent off course.

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks to supporters at a primary night election rally at Nashua Community College, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Nashua, N.H.

Former Vice President Joe Biden made a personal appeal to donors nervous about his dismal showing in the first two contests, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar hustled to take advantage of a burst of momentum and money. Pete Buttigieg, second to Sanders in New Hampshire and slightly leading in delegates, made a pitch to pull critical union members away from the progressive senator.

“This is far from over, and this is going to be a pretty extended process,” said Jim Margolis, who advised California Sen. Kamala Harris’ defunct campaign.

The race rolls ahead to Nevada, which holds a caucus on Feb. 22, and South Carolina, whose primary is a week later. That lineup sets up an immediate fight over the voters largely left out of contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, namely Latino, black and union voters.

That put immediate pressure on leading candidates to show they could compete outside of the largely white states that launched the nominating procession.

Buttigieg, the former South Bend mayor, argued that Sanders’ Medicare for All plan would unravel some unions members’ gold-standard healthcare plans, pointing to the influential Culinary Union that represent workers on the Las Vegas Strip.

“If the choice is between Sen. Sanders telling them they’re going to have to give that up and me saying that we can enhance and increase choice without asking them to sacrifice what they have worked so hard for, I think that is a very good debate for us to have and I’m looking forward to having that debate,” Buttigieg said on NBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Klobuchar’s campaign worked to keep a tailwind from Tuesday’s strong third-place finish. A campaign that once was down to boasting of being in the “top five” vacuumed up donations – more than $6 million in recent days – and scrambled to build out the field operations and advertising needed to put the cash to use. Klobuchar’s campaign launched two new television and digital ads in Nevada on Wednesday. She was headed to Las Vegas after a fundraiser in New York.

The Minnesota senator appeared to benefit from Biden’s slide, scooping up new support from older and moderate voters. Biden’s campaign on Wednesday tried to reassure donors it could stop the bleeding with a retooled media strategy. On a conference call with donors, Biden and advisers said he would be increasing his visibility with more media interviews and would increase spending on radio ads, according to a participant on the call.

His campaign has raised just $4 million since his lackluster performance during the Iowa caucuses, the campaign told the group, describing the disappointing finishes there and in New Hampshire as a gut check for a candidate once viewed as the clear front-runner. They offered assurances that Biden’s base of support with black voters was still solid, and said it remained the key to reviving his bid once they start voting in large numbers in Nevada’s Feb. 22 caucus and South Carolina’s primary.

Indeed, if the result from the first two states to vote – Iowa and New Hampshire – demonstrated anything, it’s that no candidate has a clear hold on the coalition needed to win the nomination.


delegate count

Buttigieg: 22

Sanders: 21

Warren: 8

Klobuchar: 7

Biden: 6

Bloomberg: 0

Gabbard: 0

Steyer: 0

Needed for nomination: 1,990

Associated Press