Seven Democrats Brace For Crucial Debate in New Hampshire
Coming off the muddled Iowa Caucuses early this week, seven Democratic candidates face off Friday night in a presidential debate in New Hampshire seeking to capitalize on early momentum or to rebound from a disappointing start.
Those on the stage in Manchester, New Hampshire, are most specifically targeting voters in that state as they prepare for a primary election Tuesday. But after months of debating with no voter input, the race has a sense of sudden acceleration with nominating contests in four states this month and 14 more on the first Tuesday in March.
Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg carry the most momentum into the debate with Buttigieg having earned the most delegates in Monday's Iowa caucuses and Sanders winning the most popular votes.
Sanders, who represents neighboring Vermont, is the clear favorite in New Hampshire where he dominated in the 2016 primary with 60 percent of the vote. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, sharply criticized Buttigieg at a "Politics & Eggs" breakfast Friday at Saint Anselm College for accepting contributions from billionaires.
Pre-election polls show an opportunity for former Vice President Joe Biden to bounce back after a dismal fourth-place finish in Iowa.
Just behind Biden and Buttigieg in the polls is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was third in Iowa.
They will be joined in the debate by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and billionaire Tom Steyer.
Several other Democrats are still in the race, but did not meet the national Democratic party's requirements for the debate. To qualify, candidates could either earn at least one delegate in Iowa, or amass donations from 225,000 individual donors and show either 7% support in two polls in early voting states or 5% in national or early state polls.
Those who did not make it can try to qualify for the next debate February 19 in the western state of Nevada ahead of the February 22 caucuses there, or the February 25 debate in South Carolina before that state holds its primary later that week.
Like the candidates who did not perform up to their expectations in Iowa, the party itself has a chance to bounce back in New Hampshire after what Iowa state party officials called a "stumbling block" in reporting their results that left candidates and voters wondering about the final outcome for two days.
Democrats will formally name their presidential nominee at a convention in Wisconsin in July.
Republicans hold their convention in August to nominate incumbent President Donald Trump.