The beautiful New Hampshire weather in the late spring and early summer may not be the only reason Democratic politicians have come to visit the state in recent weeks.
Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois came to the Granite State a few weeks ago to headline the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual convention.
Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, a three-term progressive congressman from California, also paid a visit to New Hampshire late last month, signing copies of his new book at Exeter’s Water Street Bookstore.
Pritzker is running for re-election this year and his political team made sure to emphasize that his trip to the state that for a century has held the first primary in the presidential nominating calendar was all about helping fellow Democrats on the ballot in November. And Khanna told reporters his message to progressives disappointed with President Biden is to stick with the president in 2024.
Biden has repeatedly said that he intends to seek a second term.
“If I’m in the health I’m in now, if I’m in good health, then in fact, I would run again,” Biden said in an interview with ABC News in December.
Regardless, there’s been plenty of chatter and speculation for over a year regarding whether the president will run for re-election in 2024. Biden made history in 2020 when he became the oldest person ever elected president. If he campaigns for re-election in 2024 and wins, Biden would be 82 at his second inaugural and 86 at the end of his second term.
Biden has had no luck pumping up his lackluster standing with Americans. The president’s approval ratings have been underwater since last autumn. And there’s been slew of stories in recent weeks regarding frustrations among many Democrats to the president’s response to the seismic move by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, and questioning Biden’s fitness for another term in the White House.
“It does seem a little bit like sharks circling the chum,” a New England-based Democratic consultant said when asked about the recent stops in New Hampshire by Pritzker and Khanna.
The consultant, who asked for anonymity to speak more freely, argued that “many of these potential candidates are testing the waters, trying to keep their relationships alive.”
Vice President Kamala Harris would be early front-runner if Biden eventually decides against seeking re-election. While she’s emerging as a leading advocate for the administration on abortion rights, the vice president’s national poll numbers are just as deep into negative territory as those of her boss. And in the Granite State, a recent survey from the University of New Hampshire put the vice president’s favorable rating among self-described Democrats at just 54%, nine points lower than Biden.
Plenty of political pundits say if Biden bows out, Harris won’t clear the field.
Harris, whose own 2020 presidential campaign never caught fire in New Hampshire, recently headlined a state Democratic Party dinner in South Carolina, which votes fourth in the party’s nominating calendar. And she traveled to the Granite State in April of last year to highlight the Biden administration’s investments in broadband.
But other rivals from the 2020 campaign have also stopped in the first primary state.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who finished third in the 2020 primary in New Hampshire, returned to the state in March to headline a state party dinner. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who like Harris suspended his 2020 presidential campaign before the start of the primary and caucus calendar, came back to New Hampshire in December to headline a major state party fundraising gala.
Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg, another 2020 alum, also made a stop in the state in December to showcase the benefits of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure measure, which is a top domestic achievement of the Biden administration. Buttigieg has also made stops in Iowa and Nevada, the first and fourth states to vote in recent Democratic presidential primaries.
“Some people are preparing for the potential of Biden not running again and they want to make sure that they have their ducks in a row,” a New Hampshire-based Democratic strategist, who also asked to remain anonymous, recently told Fox News.
The strategist a veteran of numerous presidential campaigns, suggested, “I think it’s a clear signal that there are major problems in the Harris orbit if people are already making trips to the Granite State.”
Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has changed his residency from Indiana to Michigan, which was first reported by Politico. The Transportation Department said the switch of residency was for family reasons — Buttigieg’s husband Chasten hails from Traverse City, Michigan, and now that they’ve adopted two children, it allows them to be nearer to Chasten’s parents to help with childcare.
But the switch of residency takes Buttigieg from the red state of Indiana to the political battleground of Michigan. And Michigan is currently lobbying the Democratic National Committee to move its presidential primary high up in the nominating calendar.
And Buttigieg’s former PAC, Win the Era, has started endorsing and doling out resources to some Democrats running in the midterms.
Another potential Democratic White House hopeful, who sparked 2024 speculation this past week without visiting an early voting state, is California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Like Pritzker, Newsom is running for re-election this year and has tamped down on any national political aspirations. But he launched an ad last week on Fox News in Florida that targeted conservative Gov. Ron DeSantis, a rising star in the GOP whom pundits see as a potential 2024 contender.
“Freedom, it’s under attack in your state,” Newsom said in his ad under pictures of DeSantis and former President Donald Trump. “Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors.”