Biden’s age pushes some New Hampshire voters to Phillips, Williamson

Biden’s age pushes some New Hampshire voters to Phillips, Williamson

© Reuters. Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN) answers a question during an interview with Reuters at his campaign office in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., January 8, 2024. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

By Jarrett Renshaw

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) – Polling shows President Joe Biden is unlikely to suffer a setback in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary this month – but if he does, it will be because of voters like Tim Fitzpatrick.

A supporter of Biden in 2020, Fitzpatrick, a 24-year-old college student, is not energized by Democratic candidate Dean Phillips’ centrist politics.

But he is fed up with Biden’s backing of fossil fuel projects and failure to secure promised student loan relief, and has deep concerns about whether the 81-year-old president has the vigor for a second term.

“I wouldn’t say Phillips and I are politically aligned, but it’s better than Biden,” Fitzpatrick said about his decision to back Phillips, a little-known three-term congressman from Minnesota.

New Hampshire’s unsanctioned Jan. 23 Democratic primary offers the first test of Biden’s political strength since his win in 2020.

Polls show deep concerns among voters about his age, and that Biden would struggle to beat top Republican rival Donald Trump in a rematch of 2020. A stronger-than-expected New Hampshire showing by Democratic longshots, who include Phillips and best-selling author of self-help books Marianne Williamson, would fuel those doubts.

It is an unusual contest. Biden is officially skipping the New Hampshire primary after the state refused his demand to cede its first-in-the-nation primary status to more-diverse South Carolina, but top Democrats are mounting a well-funded write-in campaign.

Political pundits predict Biden to win New Hampshire easily with the write-in campaign. Voter interviews suggest a wide margin of victory is not guaranteed.

Reuters interviewed more than two dozen New Hampshire Democrats and independents this week who said they planned to vote in the January primary. A large majority said they were undecided or voting for Phillips or Williamson.

A University of New Hampshire poll this week showed Biden with a dominating lead of 69% among likely primary voters in the state, with Phillips at 7% and Williamson at 6%.

“Biden’s age is a real problem for me because 80-year-olds start having real mental energy problems,” said Dale Coy, 70, a local blogger who teaches an online course at a New Jersey college. He expects to back Phillips.

Williamson, 71, launched her second bid for the White House with a platform that includes lowering the voting age to 16, expanding the Supreme Court from nine to 15 members, free public college tuition and codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law. She won admirers in a short 2020 bid with a spirituality focused campaign that promoted a politics of conscience.

Her platform includes a Department of Peace and economic justice agenda to repair damage done by “trickle-down economics.”


There was little sign this week that Phillips is catching fire in New Hampshire, known as the Granite State. His campaign events did not draw large crowds; a van hired to bring journalists along as the candidate dashed between Manchester and Nashua was largely empty.

The biggest crowd he drew was at a debate with Williamson in the ballroom of a Manchester hotel. A large portion of the attendees were high school students on a field trip who are younger than 18, the U.S. voting age.

On Tuesday in Manchester, Phillips parked his “Government Repair Truck” outside, planning to talk to voters while handing out coffee. Not one voter showed up.

“Sometimes, if you build it, they don’t come,” Phillips said, a reference to 1989 baseball movie Field of Dreams.

Phillips, 54, plans to hold New Hampshire town halls, house parties and blitz the airwaves with ads questioning Biden’s viability in coming weeks.

His platform includes giving newborns $1,000 to invest, balanced federal budgets and taxing endowments at wealthy universities to help middle-class Americans afford an education.

So far, he has made Biden’s poll numbers a central theme, arguing the party uses strong-arm tactics to block viable competitors, which will only benefit Trump, whom he calls the most dangerous politician in U.S.

“I believe you’re complicit if you knowingly go into a race where you’re likely to lose and you suppress the potential of other candidates,” Phillips said during a Reuters interview at his campaign headquarters in Manchester.

The Biden campaign says polls showing a lack of enthusiasm will shift when the race becomes a one-on-one matchup with Trump, pushing jittery Democrats home to Biden in November.

Dissatisfied Democrats in New Hampshire concede that is likely.

“It’s probably more true than I would like it to be, unfortunately. It’s obvious he’s better than Trump, so it’s kind of like hold your nose,” Fitzpatrick said.

Our Apps

Terms And Conditions
Privacy Policy
Risk Warning
Do not sell my personal information

© 2007-2024 Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.