Bennet Campaigns In NH With A Man Who Knows How To Pull Off A New Hampshire Surprise

February 8, 2020
Michael Bennet has James Carville campaign together in Manchester, N.H., on February 8, 2020.Michael Bennet has James Carville campaign together in Manchester, N.H., on February 8, 2020.CPR News/Caitlyn Kim
Michael Bennet has James Carville campaign together in Manchester, N.H., on February 8, 2020.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet is making one last push through New Hampshire before the first in the nation primary on Tuesday.  On Saturday, he campaigned with one of his biggest-name endorsers: political strategist James Carville.

Carville was key to helping a then little known Arkansas governor place second in the New Hampshire primary in 1992. Bill Clinton went on to win the presidency. 

Carville, wearing a yellow and purple LSU jersey, told the crowd, “I think we’re going to surprise people on Tuesday night. And let me tell you something, we get this horse out of the barn, we’re going to run and run and run and win.”

The Ragin’ Cajun introduced Bennet to a crowd of over 200 people at a rally in downtown Manchester. He highlighted Bennet’s pragmatic ideas and the advantage a candidate like Bennet would bring the party in downballot races, if he was the top of the ticket. Carville argued candidates in purple or even red states would want a moderate like Bennet to campaign for them in Arizona or North Carolina, where Democrats are challenging vulnerable Republicans. 

Carville made waves in Democratic circles this past week for a post-Iowa caucus tirade on MSNBC, in which he bemoaned the party's turn to the left in the presidential race. In a subsequent interview with Vox, Carville said, "We just had an election in 2018. We did great. We talked about everything we needed to talk about, and we won. And now it’s like we’re losing our damn minds. Someone’s got to step their game up here."

Bennet is the candidate Carville has picked to lead the party back to a more centrist tone. And noting the independent streak of New Hampshire voters, Carville encouraged the crowd at Saturday's event to give Bennet a look.

Just like his other big name endorser, Gary Hart, Bennet is hoping to replicate some of that New Hampshire surprise history.

“I am used to running from behind and I am well aware of where I am in the polls,” Bennet said. “But James is right, between now and Election Day in New Hampshire, we can surprise a lot of people. And it’s not going to take that much to surprise people.”

Bennet believes many New Hampshire voters haven’t made up their minds yet. And that, coupled with the chaos of the Iowa caucus, gives him a window.

“I built my campaign so it would last until you started to make up your mind, until you started to vote,” Bennet told the crowd. “People are less decided today than they were six weeks ago because they’re trying to figure out who they think is the person who can best beat Donald Trump.”

Bennet said he stayed in the race because “in this field, I am the person that can beat Donald Trump.” He pointed to his roots in the Mountain west and his agenda, which can win in a swing state.

Lee Williamson of Hooksett liked what Bennet had to say and thinks he’d be a “phenomenal president.” But she’s not casting a vote for him. “I just worry that he just doesn't have enough people to support him to carry him through.” Instead, she’s leaning towards a better-known moderate, former vice president Joe Biden.

With three days left until the primary, there might not be much room left for Benent to pick up enough steam for a finish in the top four.  

In a nod towards that, Bennet also told his supporters he would back whoever becomes the Democratic presidential nominee.

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