The Latest: Biden: first two states important, not critical

The Latest: Biden: first two states important, not critical

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — The Latest on 2020 Democratic president race and Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Joe Biden is continuing to waffle over whether he needs to do well in New Hampshire even as he promised supporters at a Manchester campaign office "the reports of our death are premature.”

During a press conference afterwards, Biden made further attacks on former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and said he wasn’t writing off New Hampshire. Moments later, he downplayed the make-or-break impact the state can have on some campaigns.

"Well if you notice, I'm still winning nationally," Biden told reporters. "You guys keep forgetting that part, ok? Number one. Number two, the fact is that the first two states are important, but they don't determine the outcome."

Buttigieg has made generational change a key feature of his campaign and often evokes former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Biden said the two Democrats are different, saying “he's a good a guy. He's a great mayor. But guess what? He was a mayor."

"This guy's not a Barack Obama,” Biden said later.

Biden also criticized the nature of the 2020 Democratic debates thus far and the changing debate rules. This comes as Trump has “been given a license to politically steal,” Biden said.

"George Washington is rolling over in his grave and George Wallace is clapping," Biden said.

Biden is also mixing the personal difficulties he's faced with his 2020 political fate as he tries in the final days of the New Hampshire primary season to woo last minute voters.

"I've been down before, I've been down politically, personally before," Biden said. “....And I've gotten back up, and I'll be damned though if I'm going to go down when the whole country's at stake here. The country is at stake here if Donald Trump get's re-elected.”

4:15 p.m.

Democrat Michael Bloomberg is courting black voters as he campaigns for president far from New Hampshire, in Alabama.

The former New York mayor stopped Saturday in Montgomery, Alabama, where he toured the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church, spoke at a Democratic party luncheon and held a rally at Alabama State University, a historically black college and university.

Bloomberg shared his plan to increase wealth and home ownership among African Americans and pledged to go "toe to toe" with President Donald Trump if he wins the Democratic nomination.

Bloomberg joined the race in November and is skipping the four early states, campaigning instead in states like Alabama that hold their primaries on March 3, known as "Super Tuesday" because the biggest number of delegates will be up for grabs.

Voter Arnold Mitchell, a retired forensic scientist from Montgomery, attended Bloomberg’s rally at Alabama State. He said he’s deciding between Bloomberg, former Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Mitchell says he’s looking for a candidate with experience and who can “galvanize the country and bring people together.” Mitchell said he’s ruled out backing former Vice President Joe Biden because of “he’s been stained with the Trump impeachment.”

4 p.m.

Bernie Sanders says his 2016 Democratic primary win in New Hampshire legitimized that campaign for a national audience -- and he's predicting a repeat performance in Tuesday’s primary.

Addressing an overflow crowd at the downtown opera house in Rochester, New Hampshire, on Saturday, the Vermont senator called his win in the state four years ago “enormously important.”

“What New Hampshire did was say, ‘These ideas are not radical, these ideas are not extreme, having a government that works for all of us, not just the wealthy, is exactly what we have to do,'" he said.

Sanders rose from a national unknown to a credible challenger of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary. Now he’s among the front-runners in the New Hampshire primary.

Sanders told the crowd Saturday, “New Hampshire broke through and said to the establishment, ‘You know what, standing up for working families is not a radical idea.’”


2:15 p.m.

It was almost exactly three years ago when Mitch McConnell used the phrase “nevertheless, she persisted” to admonish Elizabeth Warren as she spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to one of President Donald Trump's nominees.

The phrase boosted Warren's feminist credentials, and she's reminding voters about it in the closing days of the New Hampshire primary.

Warren leaned heavily into gender-based arguments Saturday as she tried to motivate supporters before they went out to knock on doors. While Warren has been talking about being the first woman president for weeks on the stump, she largely avoided the topic on last night's debate stage. Warren says the phrase about persistence inspired women to put it on T-shirts, pillows and even tattoo it on their bodies.

Democrats are starting to worry whether the fight against Trump is winnable and talking about "what can't be done and definitely who can't do it," she said.

“They're going to talk about it right up until we get in that fight, we persist, and we win. That is how I will be the first woman president.”


2 p.m.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she’s excited to have “an even playing field” in the final days before the New Hampshire primary.

Several hundred people in a packed room plus an overflow crowd greeted Klobuchar at the University of New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon, a day after she was the only candidate on the debate stage to voice concern about the prospect of having Sen. Bernie Sanders, a “democratic socialist” as the nominee.

Klobuchar said Saturday that moment showed she isn’t afraid to say what she thinks, and that strategy has paid off in her previous elections.

“People know that I’m straightforward and I tell them the truth,” she said.

Klobuchar said President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial kept her off the campaign in Iowa, “But these next four days — even playing field, and I’m here,” she said.

The crowd cheered when she said her campaign has raised $1.5 million since the debate.

“Let’s surprise everyone and win this the right way," she said.


Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

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