After an apparent fourth-place finish in Iowa (with 72 percent of precincts reporting), former Vice President Joe Biden is trying to pivot to the next early voting states.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We took a gut punch in Iowa,” he said Wednesday at a campaign event in Somersworth, New Hampshire, the next state to hold a primary contest. “The whole process took a gut punch. But look, this isn’t the first time in my life I’ve been knocked down.”
Biden says he and the whole process took a “gut punch” in Iowa pic.twitter.com/6oCIksOGv8
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) February 5, 2020
He joked that at this rate, New Hampshire will be the first state to vote and asked his supporters to “rocket me out of here to make sure this thing works,” per NBC News.
Biden wasn’t necessarily expected to win Iowa and will surely push ahead to states like South Carolina and Nevada, where his massive lead with African American voters will factor heavily. But a fourth-place finish would be a blow, and take some steam out of his sails heading into another primary state with an overwhelmingly white electorate.
In New Hampshire, Biden also went after former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) by name during his remarks, according to the Associated Press.
Biden said that if Sanders is the nominee,“every Democrat in America up and down the ballot, in blue states, red states, purple states and easy districts and competitive ones” will be labeled a socialist.
On Buttigieg, Biden said he has great “respect” for the the former mayor, but that it would be a risk to pick someone “who’s never held an office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana.”
As things stand with the Iowa results so far, Buttigieg has a slight lead over Sanders, followed by Warren and Biden. More results are expected to be released Wednesday afternoon.
Biden’s New Hampshire speech is a step removed from his campaign’s immediate reaction during the delays that bogged down the Iowa caucus.
His general counsel fired off a letter Monday night demanding an explanation on the technological failures.
“We believe that the campaigns deserve full explanations and relevant information regarding the methods of quality control you are employing, and an opportunity to respond, before any official results are released,” wrote campaign lawyer Dana Remus.
Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield took the campaign’s concerns a step further during a CNN hit on Tuesday.
Saying she had “real concerns about the integrity of the process,” Bedingfield added that it’s a “real concern” if “you have a process where you can’t be confident that the results that are being reported are reflective of the votes that people cast.”
Senior adviser Symone Sanders got into a testy exchange with CNN”s Brianna Keilar about Bedingfield’s comments Wednesday, conceding finally that they’ll have to “take the Iowa Democratic party at its word” that the delayed vote tallies are accurate.
The campaign seems to be scrambling to move past the Iowa comments and caucus as a whole, to coalesce behind an “I get knocked down, but I get up again” kind of message.
His campaign is hoping to survive Iowa and New Hampshire, sustaining as few blows as possible, to pick up steam in Nevada and South Carolina and to have a banner showing on Super Tuesday, an amalgamation of states much more diverse than the first two.