U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) committed a classic “Kinsley gaffe” during an interview with CNN, publically admitting what D.C. politicians have been privately saying for months: Democrats killed New Hampshire’s First in the Nation primary in an attempt to “avoid embarrassment” for President Joe Biden.
“Why should President Biden sit back and allow a state that he finished fifth in be first up?” Clyburn told CNN’s Chris Wallace said during an interview that aired Friday night.
“I don’t think you’re stacking the deck,” he told Wallace. “I think you’re avoiding embarrassment. And that is what he is attempting to avoid here. And I would expect anybody to do the same.”
No New Hampshire Democrats would go on the record with NHJournal, but several said on background that Clyburn’s comments were a disaster for the DNC.
“They must be [expletive] a brick right now,” one Democratic insider said. “It proves that people like Neil Levesque were right: This isn’t about race; it’s about rigging an election to protect the president.”
Levesque is executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. He has publicly accused the Biden White House of attempting to “rig” the presidential primary by pushing South Carolina into first place.
“This is the most outrageous maneuver and so blatantly transparent. It really shows what the president’s true colors are,” Levesque told NBC News. “He’s a candidate, potentially, who is trying to rig the election in a way that best suits him.”
Clyburn’s comments came as more Democrats at the national level are realizing that New Hampshire could turn into a major embarrassment for Biden next year. Despite a vote by the DNC moving South Carolina to the front of the line, New Hampshire Democrats will hold their primary at least a week before any similar content, as required by state law, and on the same day as the GOP primary.
According to press reports, Biden has committed to not campaigning in an unsanctioned New Hampshire primary or allowing his name to appear on the ballot. As a result, it is possible — in fact, likely — he will lose the primary to a fellow Democrat. Currently, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Marianne Williams are the only two announced candidates in the Democratic primary. Both are campaigning in New Hampshire.
“I have great respect for my friend, Congressman Clyburn,” RFK, Jr.’s campaign manager, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, told NHJournal. “He is astute and direct. Mr. Kennedy is prepared to compete in South Carolina. He is prepared to compete in New Hampshire. Our campaign is about healing. It is about unity. We are one American family.
“Our love and respect is extended to all Americans, whether in New Hampshire, South Carolina, or any other place in the country. This is why more and more Americans are supporting Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. for president.”
With Biden already struggling in the polls — a new survey finds his approval rating down to 41 percent — and his age increasingly becoming an issue for voters, kicking off the 2024 primary season with a loss in New Hampshire is a high-risk move, says veteran GOP strategist Pat Griffin.
“Democrats are worried Biden won’t be able to fog a mirror by Election Day, much less hit the campaign trail,” Griffin said. Asked about the strategy of simply ignoring New Hampshire and taking the loss, Griffin mentioned President Lyndon Johnson being forced out of the field by his poor performance in the 1968 New Hampshire Democratic primary.
He then added, “A loss for Joe Biden will take a candidate who already appears infirm and make him look even more infirm.”
The panic has gotten so high, Politico reports, some in the DNC are pushing Granite State Democrats to hold a “party-run” primary, not affiliated with the state, in order to comply with the Biden calendar.
That’s a non-starter for state Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley, who has repeated the same pledge every Granite State Democrat has made since the DNC changed the calendar: Even if the state party had the money and the resources to run an independent primary after South Carolina’s they wouldn’t do it.
“We’re hosting the first primary,” Buckley told Politico. “The president can decide if he wants to put his name on the ballot.”