The rain couldn’t keep Democrats away from former New Hampshire State Sen. Bette Lasky’s house Tuesday for their chance to meet and greet Joe Biden. And neither could the turmoil over Biden’s bipartisanship.
Progressive Twitter exploded over Biden’s prediction while campaigning in the Granite State that “you will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends” when Donald Trump is out of office, and Biden’s calls for bipartisan consensus.
“Real change isn’t coming from epiphanies by Mitch McConnell and other corrupt Republican politicians, but from all of us organizing for change together,” the activist group Progressive Change Campaign Committee said in a statement. “This epiphany comment is the latest example of Biden operating in an insider world of yesteryear and shows that he is our worst foot forward in the general election.”
Progressives were also angered by comments from the Biden campaign suggesting that he’s going to take a “middle ground” approach to climate policy. (It was actually a Biden advisor and not the former VP who used that phrase.)
“I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act back then [during the Obama administration] are going to come back today and say we need a middle of the road approach to save our lives,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in highly-publicized remarks. “That’s too much for me.”
But it appeared to be just fine with the Granite Staters gathered in Nashua for the campaign meet-and-greet.
“People keep talking about wanting ‘new blood,’ but I want some ‘old blood,'” Deborah Arnold told NHJournal. “I prayed Joe Biden would get in this race.”
Arnold, a 20-year Nashua resident, said she wasn’t bothered by Biden’s more moderate politics. “I want a professional. I want someone who knows how to make things work.”
That attitude is reflected in the recent polling showing Biden with a solid lead among New Hampshire Democrats who, despite strongly backing Bernie Sanders in 2016, appear to be open to a more traditional Democrat like Biden this time around.
“There are actually a decent number of Biden supporters on campus,” Harvard student Sal De Francesco said. He and two fellow Harvard students were on a road trip to Quebec and stopped at the Biden event on the way.
“I hear some (Sen. Elizabeth) Warren support and some Pete Buttigieg support–and because I’m from Texas I still lean toward Beto (O’Rourke)–but yeah, students like Biden,” Harvard student Jacob Link said. Mostly, the students conceded, because they believe he can beat Trump.
In his comments to New Hampshire voters, Biden didn’t back down from his talk of consensus and bipartisan cooperation, reiterating his claim that once Trump is out of office (“It’s my job to defeat him”), “we will see more accommodation across the board.” Biden called “restoring our nation’s unity” one of the primary reasons he’s in the POTUS race.
“I get criticized for this, I know, but if I’m wrong we’re in real trouble, folks,” Biden told the crowd. “We have to unify this country. Our political system is broken. Nothing can happen in this country of consequence without consensus. People say ‘No, no, no, that’s old-time politics.’ Well if it is, we’re in deep, deep trouble.”
Lyssa Brogan, 18, of Nashua had no complaints about Biden’s lack of progressive passion. “I think he’s a good person. I like the fact that he talks about our morality,” she told NHJournal.
“He’s the kind of person you would want to be part of your family.”