Former New Hampshire state Rep. Jim Splaine was the force behind the 1975 law that has locked in the state’s First in the Nation primary. He is a die-hard Democrat who supports his party and believes President Joe Biden has done a “great” job as president.
But on Friday, he delivered a difficult message to the incumbent president.
It’s time to go.
“I love Joe Biden. I think he does great work. He speaks well; I don’t think he’s got a shortness of mindset,” Splaine told WFEA radio in Manchester. But, he added, “I think there’s still a good chance with the national discussions I’ve seen in the polling that President Biden will realize he should not run and withdraw.”
Splaine is hardly the first Democrat or Biden supporter to come to this conclusion. The Washingon Post’s liberal columnist David Ignatius wrote earlier in the week that, while Biden finds it difficult to say “no” to his Democratic allies or friends, “Biden has another chance to say no — to himself, this time — by withdrawing from the 2024 race. It might not be in character for Biden, but it would be a wise choice for the country.”
Having a prominent New Hampshire Democrat who has been a longtime party stalwart in the Granite State make that suggestion, however, gives it added heft.
“I liked Joe Biden. I liked him very much,” Splaine said Friday. “I first met him in 1987. The fact is he’s going to be 82 years old two weeks after the next [general] election. Eighty-two. And that’s going to be a very significant factor in the margin of victory.
“And I think we lose if we put him up, in addition to all of the other kind of legal problems and other kinds of problems with the economy that he faces. So let us have the primary,” Splaine said. That is why he believes Biden should drop out.
“Joe Biden has to realize that he might not have one more campaign ahead of him, and now it’s a good time for him to withdraw before the filing deadline opens.”
Polls have consistently found that voters in both New Hampshire and nationwide believe Biden is too old and lacks the mental capacity to competently serve as president. In an April 2022 New Hampshire Journal poll, 54 percent of respondents said they didn’t believe President Biden is “physically and mentally up to the job” if there is a crisis.
And in an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs survey taken last month, 77 percent of Americans — including 89 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of Democrats — said Biden is too old to continue to serve.
Splaine believes the solution is to have an open primary and let Democratic voters in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire pick a nominee who can help his party hold onto the White House.
“Trump is not guaranteed the [GOP] nomination yet. Those decisions are made in July and August by the national conventions, and Biden could end up facing a man or a woman, 10, 20, 30, 40 years younger than he is,” Splaine said. “And the comparison would not be favorable. So yeah, I think that the Democrats behind Joe Biden have realized that he needs to get out there.
“And if he can’t,” Splaine said, Biden needs to step aside.
Splaine made similar comments in a recent op-ed for the left-leaning SeacoastOnline newspapers.
Thus far, the state’s Democratic establishment is not taking his advice. Instead, former state party chair Kathy Sullivan is organizing an effort to get Democrats to write in Biden’s name for the same First in the Nation primary he had stripped from the Democratic National Committee calendar. “It’s important that we all show up and write in Joe Biden’s name if his name is not on the ballot,” Sullivan reportedly told a meeting of Manchester Democrats last weekend.
According to USA Today, the write-in effort has the backing of failed 2016 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern and former Obama state co-chair Jim Demers.
The DNC voted Thursday to give the New Hampshire Democratic Party another month to bring its primary date into alignment with the Biden-mandated calendar. However, the date is set by the Secretary of State, who has remained steadfast that the Granite State will hold the nation’s first primary.
New Hampshire Democrats organizing to save the candidacy of the same president trying to kill their primary on the basis that the state’s voters are too White to be entrusted with an early vote has some Granite Staters scratching their heads.
Republican strategist Patrick Hynes, who, like Sullivan, writes a regular column for the Union Leader, gave Splaine a thumbs up for his political courage.
“It’s gratifying to see at least one New Hampshire Democrat who is more interested in preserving the sanctity of the First in the Nation primary than the national party’s lust for power. Jim Splaine clearly has more integrity and courage than Ray Buckley and his flunkies.”