MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) – Democratic U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and former Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg exchanged barbs on Sunday in New Hampshire, two days before the state’s voters weigh in on who should win the right to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November.
FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders arrives to speak to canvassers and campaign volunteers in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., February 8, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar
The pair, who emerged from last week’s Iowa caucuses essentially tied, in some ways mark the poles of the Democratic field: Sanders, 78, is an impassioned progressive who has spent almost three decades in Congress, Buttigieg, 38, a moderate veteran who spent two terms as mayor of South Bend.
Democratic hopefuls also include U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who finished third in Iowa, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who placed fourth. They had planned a frantic day of campaigning as the hours tick down to Tuesday’s vote, just the second of this year’s campaign.
Buttigieg, who would be the nation’s first openly gay president, cheerfully deflected attacks from his older, more well-known rivals as they jostled to dampen the momentum of a candidate who has surged in New Hampshire polls over the past few days.
Here is what is happening on the campaign trail on Sunday:
Sanders has begun criticizing Buttigieg for taking big money from “40 billionaires.”
“That is precisely the problem with American politics,” Sanders said on CBS “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Buttigieg, who likes to note he is the least wealthy of the Democratic candidates, countered that he has never hesitated to stand up to industry, and then took a jab at Sanders’ wealth.
“Well, Bernie’s pretty rich, and I would happily accept a contribution from him,” Buttigieg said on CNN.
Asked about Biden’s assertion that he was not Barack Obama, another lesser-known and inexperienced Democrat who won the 2008 presidential election, Buttigieg hit back.
“He’s right. I’m not. But neither is he,” he said on CNN.
‘I’M A FIGHTER’
Warren made the rounds on Sunday morning at Blake’s, a restaurant and ice cream parlor in Manchester, posing for selfies and telling diners she needed their vote.
“I’m a fighter,” she told one woman. “You don’t make it as a girl with three older brothers if you’re not a fighter.”
Warren, whose numerous and detailed policy proposals have led to the campaign slogan “Warren has a plan for that,” stopped by several tables, asking patrons to tell her their No.1 concern.
When one man mentioned the cost of prescription drugs, she explained her intention to use executive power to drop the prices of commonly used medications; another man got a quick summary of her plan to raise Social Security and Medicaid payments by $200 a month.
Katie Straw, 30, told Warren her biggest worry is the amount of student debt she still needs to pay off.
“So you know about my plan to cancel student loan debt?” Warren asked, explaining that she would erase debt for 43 million Americans and giving Straw a high five.
Straw later said she planned to vote for Bernie Sanders, who has proposed canceling all student loan debt.
“I really like Warren,” said Straw, an occupational therapist. “However, Bernie’s going to offer me a lot more.”
‘MAD AS HELL’ ABOUT IOWA
Last week’s Iowa caucuses were plagued with problems including a glitchy mobile app used for the first time to report results.
“I’m frustrated. I’m mad as hell – everybody is,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Perez has been pushing states to move away from the complicated caucus system toward more straightforward primary contests like New Hampshire’s, and for state parties to cede control to state election officials.
He said the lessons from Iowa were clear: state parties should focus on organizing, building coalitions and winning elections.
Some Democrats are increasingly complaining about the outsize impact of Iowa and New Hampshire – rural states that do not represent the diversity of the party – on the primary election process.
Perez was asked if that meant Iowa is about to lose its first-in-the-nation status.
“That’s the conversation that will absolutely happen after this election cycle,” he said.
The Iowa Democratic Party was reviewing results from 95 precincts and planned to release corrections by midday Monday.
Reporting by Joesph Ax in Manchester, New Hampshire, Jarett Renshaw in Nashua, New Hampshire, Simon Lewis in Plymouth, New Hampshire, and Doina Chiacu in Washington, writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Shumaker