The Wash
Dean Phillips answering questions at an event.

Looking for Joe, looking at other contenders

Biden’s absence in New Hampshire threatens to alienate local voters.

By Maddie Gerber  

MANCHESTER, N.H. – “Why? Why are they not here? Why are they not making a stance?” 

Debra Quimby takes a picture of her cousin and friend with Republican candidate Nikki Haley at a local Manchester restaurant. (Maddie Gerber/The Wash)

President Joe Biden’s absence in New Hampshire has left some voters, including Concord-native Debra Quimby, with questions heading into Tuesday’s primary, prompting her to look across the aisle for answers.

Quimby is a registered Democrat. However, the fact that Biden chose not to campaign in her state prompted her to explore other options, leading her to a Nikki Haley campaign stop in Manchester, where she was pleasantly surprised. 

Debra Quimby meets former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley for the first time at a local restaurant in Manchester, N.H. (Maddie Gerber/The Wash)

“Nikki, on the other hand, she’s going everywhere to recruit people,” Quimby said. “She’s not afraid of anyone.” 

Biden and the Democratic National Committee have chosen to abstain from New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, citing concerns about diversity. Instead, they have opted to begin the official nomination process in South Carolina, whose population is four times larger than New Hampshire’s and considerably more diverse. According to recent census data, New Hampshire’s non-white population is less than 10% compared to over 30% in South Carolina.

This decision means that no Democratic delegates will be allocated based on Tuesday’s results, rendering the contest “meaningless,” according to a letter from the DNC.

Republican primary presidential nominee Nikki Haley at her birthday celebration on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. (Maddie Gerber/The Wash)

Democratic congressman and presidential hopeful Dean Phillips has latched on to this rhetoric to connect with New Hampshire voters who may feel apathetic toward Biden because of his absence. 

“My great disappointment right now is that our president and our party somehow felt that this was not important,” Phillips said to audience members at a rally in Rochester, New Hampshire. “You are not meaningless.”

Democratic candidate Dean Phillips embraces local voters at a rally in Rochester, N.H. (Maddie Gerber/The Wash)

For rally attendees, Phillips’ message resonated. Chuck Grassie, a state representative and lifetime Rochester resident, said he was disappointed in the DNC’s choice to adjust their primary schedule. 

“We need to make sure that people have an opportunity to see all of the candidates and make their decision,” Grassie said. “An informed electorate is what saves democracy.” 

Fellow New Hampshire resident Noa Bourka echoed Grassie’s concerns about limited information. 

Dean Phillips supporters listen to the Democratic congressman speak at a rally in Rochester, N.H. (Maddie Gerber/The Wash)

“I have always appreciated Biden’s work for our country and his service over many decades,” said Bourka. “But I’d like to know about some of these other candidate. Other than age and health, what are three substantive differences that they have on their platforms?”

Dean Phillips isn’t the only presidential hopeful upset at the lack of an actual DNC-sanctioned primary, as 2020 candidate Andrew Yang appeared alongside Phillips in Manchester on the final night of campaigning before Tuesday’s election.  Yang told the crowd packed into Phillips’ campaign headquarters, “Joe Biden recently gave a speech on the importance of democracy. Unfortunately,  democracy is not necessarily alive and well with the DNC either; you see it here in New Hampshire.”

The Wash Staff

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