From Paul Steinhauser in the 603 - what to watch:

  • Primary challenge for Trump?

  • First impression for Booker and Harris

  • Gillibrand sings along

  • Delaney’s not your typical 2020 Democratic contender

  • Two very different takes on the first-in-the-nation primary


Weld takes big step towards primary challenging Trump

He hasn’t won an election in 25 years, but that’s not stopping former two-term Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld from launching a presidential exploratory committee as he moves much closer to making a long-shot bid to challenge President Donald Trump in the Republican primaries. The 2016 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee and very vocal Trump critic made his news as he headlined ‘Politics and Eggs – a must stop for White House hopefuls in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire. The announcement kicked off a two-day swing through the state as Weld meets with GOP activists and former leaders and lawmakers to make his pitch. And Weld told theConcord Monitor he’s coming back to the Granite State each of the next two weeks.
AP/Concord Monitor
Union Leader 
Fox News

WATCH: Weld’s announcement 
WATCH: Weld’s gaggle with reporters
WATCH: Weld on other possible primary challengers 
CHECK OUT Weld’s Granite State appropriate foot wear, courtesy of New Hampshire Institute of Politics executive director Neil Levesque


Appetite for primary challenge?

A Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll released this week indicated that 83% of likely 2020 GOP New Hampshire primary voters approved of the job the president is doing. BUT 51% said they would consider a primary challenge to the president. Plus new favorable/unfavorable figures for the Democratic contenders. 

First impressions

Two of the biggest names in the existing field of Democratic presidential candidates make their first visits to New Hampshire this Presidents Day holiday weekend since formally announcing their candidacies. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey arrived at Manchester airport late Friday night (hat tip WMUR’s Adam Sexton). He was greeted by Democratic rainmaker Jim Demers, who’s been advising Booker in the Granite State for months and guided him on trips here in October and December.

TWEET: On Booker’s public schedule are stops in Portsmouth, North Conway, Rochester, Manchester and Nashua before he departs Monday afternoon. As he leaves the state Sen. Kamala Harris arrives. Her public schedule includes an event Monday afternoon in Portsmouth and she is headlining ‘Politics and Eggs’ Tuesday morning at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

Gillibrand kicks off jam-packed NH swing 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York –  on her second visit to the Granite State since launching a presidential exploratory committee – slammed President Donald Trump for announcing a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexican border. She also said she could possibly support a call by former Congressman and possible 2020 Democratic contender Beto O’Rourke to tear down the existing border barrier in his hometown of El Paso, Texas. Gillibrand also spent her first day back in New Hampshire talking with voters at stops in Concord, Dover, and Somersworth. And she met with Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, got in some shopping in downtown Concord and sang along with a longtime street performer who performs daily a block from the Statehouse to ‘Father and Son’ by Cat Stevens – which she said is one of her favorite songs in high school. TWEET
Ahead of her trip, Gillibrand started staffing up in New Hampshire, naming Pat Devney as her state director. He steered Rep. Annie Kuster’s 2014 re-election and the 2016 campaign of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Colin Van Ostern
Concord Monitor
Fox News
Union Leader

WATCH: Gillibrand on Trump national emergency declaration 
WATCH: Gillibrand on O’Rourke’s call to dismantle part of the border wall in El Paso
WATCH: Gillibrand signs along with a longtime Concord street musician Kevin Clark

Hickenlooper talks and listens

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper spent two days in New Hampshire this week, as he moves towards likely launching a presidential campaign. Hickenlooper pushed back against suggestions he a moderate Democrat, but he also argued that the Green New Deal and Medicare for All shouldn’t be litmus tests for Democrats.
Concord Monitor 
Fox News 

WATCH: Hickenlooper on single payer
WATCH: Hickenlooper on his potential rivals for nomination
WATCH: Hickenlooper says he’s “leaning yes”  
WATCH: Hickenlooper’s first night in NH

Delaney targets Green New Deal, Medicare for All

Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney’s not your typical 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. With many of his rivals for the nomination running to the left, the former congressman from Maryland is carving out a more moderate path and taking aim at two top wish-list items for the progressive base -- the Green New Deal and "Medicare-for-all."
Fox News

WATCH: Delaney on the Green New Deal 
WATCH: Delaney on his rivals for the nomination 

Klobuchar adds a second stop to help make a good first impression

Sen. Amy Klobuchar will be in New Hampshire Monday, to headline a 10pm CNN town hall that will be held at the Dana Center at Saint Anselm College. On Friday, after repeated questions by yours truly and likely other Granite State based political reporters, the Minnesota Democrat’s campaign announced that the senator would be adding another stop as she makes her first visit to New Hampshire since launching her White House bid. She’ll meet with voters at the Village Trestle in downtown Goffstown Monday afternoon. The addition to her schedule helps her avoid any criticism that she might possibly have received by coming to New Hampshire to take part in a nationally televised town hall and not doing any traditional Granite State style retail politicking. Klobuchar also announced that she’s return to New Hampshire next weekend.

He’s coming… He’s not coming

At the beginning of this last week news broke that two-term New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio was going to spend Friday in New Hampshire, as the progressive mayor flirts with a possible White House bid. But after Tuesday’s tragic ‘friendly fire’ shooting that left a New York City police detective dead, the mayor cancelled his trip to the Granite State. But he still traveled to Massachusetts on Thursday, to speak Harvard University’s Kennedy School.

Gabbard, Buttigieg, Ryan, and Williamson in the house 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii campaigns in New Hampshire this weekend. It’s her first trip since declaring her candidacy. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg makes his first trip since setting up a presidential exploratory committee. And best-selling author Marianne Williamson is also in the state, for her first visit since declaring her candidacy. Plus, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio – who’s mulling a White House bid – returns to New Hampshire for a busy Tuesday-Thursday swing.

Bernie Sanders moving closer to running again

The independent senator from Vermont could launch a second straight campaign for the Democratic nomination –and he may announce it before the end of the month. And if he does run, state lawmakers are moving to make sure he can get on the primary ballot.
Fox News

Two very different takes on the primary

Is New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary thriving? Or is it facing a very uncertain future? The takes from John DiStaso and James Pindell, two veterans who have covered the primary for years.
Boston Globe

Thanks as always for sharing with friends and colleagues, please point anyone and everyone to sign up here. That's all we've got, have a great weekend. You can follow Paul Steinhauser, NH's most versatile political news reporter, here, and contact THE 603 co-founder & publisher, Kieran Baker, here.  

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