The Democratic Party is eyeing a narrative-bending shakeup to their primary calendar that left CNN’s Jake Tapper stunned by the response from key members: “That’s a Biden delegate!”
Saturday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the nearly 500 members of the Democratic National Convention are set to gather for their winter meeting where, among other matters, they will vote to approve the order that states will hold their 2024 presidential primaries. Traditionally the “first-in-the-nation” following the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire’s decades-long lead spot is coming under fire and the locals are none too pleased.
State Rep. Steve Shurtleff (D), formerly the Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and a 2020 delegate for then-candidate Joe Biden, reacted harshly prior to the DNC meeting and said, “I’ll look for another candidate before I support Joe Biden if he should go so far as to take away the first-in-the-nation primary from the Granite State.”
“That’s a Biden delegate!” Tapper said Friday on “The Lead” after watching the clip before Leigh Ann Caldwell from “Washington Post Live” added, “Two New Hampshire senators didn’t go to a party at the White House because they were so mad at President Biden about this. People in New Hampshire, politicos, are saying that it is going to jeopardize him winning the general election in 2024 should he run again…New Hampshire’s taking this very, very personally.”
The proposed calendar would see South Carolina thrust to the head of the primary season with a Feb. 3, 2024 date, three days prior to New Hampshire’s scheduled Feb. 6 primary which would, if adopted, now be shared with Nevada. Representatives from Iowa and New Hampshire were the only “no” votes when the Rules and Bylaws panel voted on the calendar in December.
Though Biden has yet to formally announce a reelection bid and no notable challengers have stepped forward to take on the incumbent, the move is widely perceived as an attempt to construct a path to victory for the president who hadn’t won a single contest in 2020 until the fourth day of voting that saw him win big, especially in South Carolina with the support of Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC).
“These victories in New Hampshire, for folks who aren’t nerds like the rest of us, are always pretty thin,” Tapper argued as he appeared to downplay the significance of the early primary without noting the field typically remains crowded at that early stage. “They’re pretty, pretty close, like, of the presidential ones I mean. Nobody wins a landslide victory in New Hampshire.”
Biden had secured roughly eight percent of the vote in New Hampshire in 2020, coming behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 26 percent, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN), 24 percent, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), 20 percent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), nine percent. Less than two weeks later he worked his way up to second place in Nevada, still falling to Sanders by more than 20 points.
In December White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed the decision to move South Carolina up “had nothing to do with the primary results. And I can definitively say that.”
Accepting that at face value, that leaves race once again at the forefront of Biden’s decision-making as Iowa and New Hampshire have predominantly white residents compared to South Carolina which has little more than 60 percent white with more than a quarter of the population being black.
“The past few elections have made it abundantly clear that the South is the new Democratic battleground, and by starting the presidential nominating process in South Carolina and incorporating Georgia into the early lineup, our party will only strengthen its commitment to these critical voters,” the DNC’s Southern Caucus leadership team said in a statement to Politico. “The road to the White House runs through the South, and this calendar will ensure that the Democratic nominee is fortified for the general election.”
Meanwhile, it remains unknown what consequence might befall any Democratic candidate who would go rogue and participate in a New Hampshire primary, determined by state law, not approved by the DNC.
Biden himself would not participate in that vote and New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley told Fox News, “President Biden will not file for election in the New Hampshire primary, which will still go first…this will set him up, we believe, for an embarrassing situation where the first primary in the country will be won by someone other than the president. This will only fuel chatter of…Democrats divisions.”
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