NASHUA, N.H.—As two of his rivals declared victory in Iowa and others loudly hinted at his underperformance, former vice president Joe Biden attempted to turn the page on the crucial early contest in a speech here Tuesday afternoon.
“Folks, God it’s good to be in New Hampshire,” Biden said. “You have no idea how happy we were to be headed to Nashua, New Hampshire.”
Biden predicted he would do “really well” in Iowa as his campaign still awaits the official results from the problem-plagued caucuses, but he also appeared eager to move on to the next election.
“Now it’s time for New Hampshire to speak,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to making my case across the state.”
That might be because his rivals appear confident they out-performed him in the first contest. Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., all but declared victory in a speech Monday night, based on the campaign’s internal count of the caucus results. Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir released a note to supporters Tuesday afternoon claiming that Sanders had a “comfortable lead” in Iowa based on their own internal—and partial—data.
Top Biden adviser Symone Sanders told reporters it was not “accurate” for candidates to declare victory at this point, and stressed that the state’s 42 delegates are a small part of the overall path to the nomination. She declined to comment on claims from Senator Amy Klobuchar’s camp that the Minnesota senator was outperforming Biden in the caucuses. The campaign has long attempted to lower expectations for Biden in the first two states, portraying South Carolina, where he polls at the top of the field, as his firewall.
In his remarks, Biden took aim at Sanders, criticizing him for supporting a Medicare for All plan while declining to say specifically how much it costs or how it would be paid for.
“Most Democrats in Congress are not for it so how’s it going to pass? How’s it going to get done?” he asked of the nationalized health care system. “Now he says no one knows what it’s going to cost.”
Biden contrasted his own ability to get things done, citing the Affordable Care Act, to Sanders’ record.
While Biden didn’t dwell on it, the lack of clarity around the Iowa results left voters who journeyed to a gymnasium here to check out the former vice president feeling anxious and annoyed. Most said they had no idea how Biden performed in the crucial first contest.
“I wish there had been some direction this morning from Iowa,” said Susan Batchelder, 76, an undecided voter. “The basic tenets of a caucus are kind of disjointed anyway—I knew that—but I figured by this morning there’d be something.”
Other New Hampshire residents said they watched the caucuses on TV and were horrified by the messy process, where supporters of candidates are allowed to politic their neighbors to get them to stand in their corner.
“I just think it didn’t look as democratic as it could be,” said Donna Loranger, 61, from Salem, New Hampshire, who said she far prefers her state’s primary process. “There’s no like, ‘Red Rover, Red Rover send Klobuchar over. I mean what is that?”
“I appreciate the voting process here,” said Rich Fitzpatrick, a firefighter from Manchester who supports Biden. His wife Lynn Fitzpatrick added: “It’s definitely an honor to live in the state of New Hampshire.”