From Paul Steinhauser in the 603 - what to watch:

  • Bernie returns to NH in a position of strength

  • Buttigieg, Bennet, deal with Trump in two very different ways

  • Biden gearing up; Beto putting out feelers

  • Hickenlooper’s in

  • Warren, Booker, Inslee coming back

Sanders returns to New Hampshire on a roll

Sen. Bernie Sanders is headed to the Granite State on Sunday for his first visit as a declared candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. As first reported by the Concord Monitor, the independent senator from Vermont will headline a noontime event at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord. He’ll also hold a late afternoon gathering at the Colonial Theater in Keene. Sure, conventional wisdom says the 77-year old Sanders will face a much tougher time in the Granite State than in 2016.  Last cycle, the onetime long shot candidate crushed Hillary Clinton in the first in the nation primary, launching him into a marathon battle that didn’t end until he endorsed Clinton at a July event in the Granite State. But Sanders is on a roll as he returns to New Hampshire, even though he is part of a much larger Democratic primary field – 14 at last count – including many candidates who are espousing the same progressive agenda that Sanders proposed in 2016. Of course, some of his Granite State supporters have yet to commit, as they shop around. That’s expected. But with 11 months to go until the primary, Bernie’s in the poll position.
Concord Monitor

Sanders staffing up in NH

Ahead of the candidate’s return on Sunday, his campaign announced two key Granite State hires. NH native Joe Caiazzo will serve as state director. Caiazzo, who has strong union ties, served as political director for Sanders’ 2016 campaign in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In the general election, he was the Hillary Clinton campaign’s Rhode Island state director. He managed Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s 2018 re-election campaign. Carli Stevenson - another Granite State native with strong ties to the labor movement – will serve as communications director and deputy state director. In the 2016 cycle, she served as deputy communications director for the Sanders campaign in NH, before working for the campaign in Minnesota, Ohio and Indiana. And it goes without saying that Kurt Ehrenberg – a longtime Sanders adviser and friend in the Granite state with deep roots as a labor organizer and grassroots activist – is once again setting the table for the Sanders campaign in New Hampshire, just as he did four years ago.

Buttigieg on Trump: ‘It’s not about him, it’s about us’

Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg  -headlining ‘Politics and Eggs’ on Friday -  argued that the 2020 election shouldn’t be about GOP President Donald Trump, emphasizing that “of course we’ll confront him, we’ll call him out. We’ll beat him. But at the end of the day, it’s not about him, it’s about us.” Buttigieg also highlighted his push to add justices to the U.S. Supreme Court and to end the Electoral College in presidential elections.
Concord Monitor
Union Leader
Fox News
Buttigieg on why he doesn’t say the name Donald Trump

Bennent takes aim at Trump

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado – in New Hampshire as he moves towards a likely White House bid, called the Trump presidency “a sorry chapter.” Asked about the odds he’ll run for the White House, Bennet said “I’m inclined to do it.”
Concord Monitor
Fox News

WATCH: Bennet takes aim at Trump 
WATCH: Bennet says he’s “inclined to do it” 

Biden gearing up for likely April launch
Former Vice President Joe Biden says he’s “in the final stages” of deciding on a 2020 White House run. But Biden – who would instantly become the front-runner among roughly 15 contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination – explained last week during an event in his home state of Delaware that he didn’t want a third presidential bid to be “a fool’s errand.” He emphasized that “I have to make sure that I could run a first-rate effort.” And that’s exactly what his top political advisers are quietly working on behind the scenes, ahead of what may be an April presidential campaign launch. Sources familiar with the planning of Biden’s inner circle confirm to Fox News that top advisers to the former vice president are getting their ducks in a row, figuring out a campaign structure and reaching out to veteran Democratic operatives who could potentially be involved.
Fox News

Beto putting out feelers in NH
As Beto O’Rourke continues to hold off on an announcement about his political plans, people working closely with the former Texas congressman - who nearly knocked off GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in last year’s election -  have begun making inquiries in New Hampshire about matters that would be central to a mounting a presidential campaign in the leadoff primary state.

He summers every year in NH – now he’s running for president
Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper made official Monday what he strongly hinted at during a trip to New Hampshire three weeks ago – he’s joining a crowded field of Democrats running for the White House. Hickenlooper’s no stranger to the Granite State – he’s here every summer for an annual vacation at Squam Lake. “I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid,” he told the Monitor last summer. “We go to a restaurant and no one knows who I am. So it’s kind of nice to be with your family and have that private time.”
Concord Monitor

Warren, Booker, Inslee headed to NH next weekend
2020 Watch-NEW: Presidential candidate Sen. @ewarren returns to NH Friday 3/15. The Democrat from Massachusetts to hold 3:15pm house party in Salem & 6pm organizing event at the historic Exeter town hall. It's Warren's 5th trip to #FITN primary state in 2019 #nhpolitics #mapoli

2020 Watch-NEW: @ConMonitorNews reports @CoryBooker returns to NH Friday March 15th with stops in the Upper Valley and Claremont #NHPolitics #FITN #mapoli #2020Election
2020 Watch-NEW: @seacoastonline @FostersDailyDem learn that newly declared Democratic presidential candidate Gov. @JayInslee of Washington State will headline a meet & greet with @rcdcnh on Saturday March 16 at 4pm at the Exeter Inn
Inslee headlines a Bedford Democrats event earlier in the day.
2020 Watch-Gillibrand on deck too: ⁦‪@seacoastonline‬⁩ ⁦‪@FostersDailyDem‬⁩ learns that Democratic presidential contender ⁦‪@SenGillibrand‬⁩ of NY will be returning to New Hampshire on Friday - with at least one of her events taking place in the Seacoast #nhpolitics #FITN #2020Election #nypolitics #mapoli 

Also coming up

2020 Watch-NEW: Upcoming town hall meetings with Dem. presidential candidates at @NewEngCollege - Rep. @TulsiGabbard of Hawaii 3/22 2:30pm; Fmr. Rep. @JohnDelaney of Maryland 3/29 11:30am. Location: the Simon Center Great Room; Open to public & free #NHPolitics #FITN #MApoli

Primary challenge

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld – who launched a presidential exploratory committee as he weighs an extreme longshot Republican presidential primary challenge against Trump, is expected to pick up the pace on his visits to New Hampshire.

A third Shaheen-Sununu Senate showdown?

As Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen runs for re-election next year for a third term representing New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate, the major suspense focuses on which Republicans may launch a challenge. There’s been plenty of speculation surrounding two-term GOP Gov. Chris Sununu. Sununu has repeatedly vowed that he has no interest in running for the U.S. Senate. The odds are much greater that the governor would run in 2020 for a third term in the corner office rather than for a full-time job in the nation’s capital. “I have absolutely no interest,” Sununu told the Monitor last June. “I’m a manager. I love to manage.” It’s a line he’s repeated numerous times in recent months. But two public opinion surveys released over the past two weeks are once again firing up the rumor mill. Both polls – from Emerson College and UMass-Amherst – indicated a hypothetical matchup between the popular senator and popular governor would be all knotted up.
Concord Monitor 

Conversations with the 2020 contenders

Wash. State Go. Jay Inslee and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld are on the latest edition of ON BACKGROUND, the program that's all about NH politics.

NEW: Inslee adding to NH itinerary

Seacoast Online learned on Monday that the Washington State governor will headline a meet and greet with the Rockingham County Democrats on March 16, when he returns to Granite State. The event will be held at the Exeter Inn at 4pm. This stop’s in addition to the previously reported (by my friend and rival John DiStaso) Inslee meet and greet that same day with the Bedford Democrats.

NEW: Hickenlooper’s in too!

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper made official on Monday what he strongly hinted at during a trip to New Hampshire less than three weeks ago – he’s joining a crowded field of Democrats running for the White House.
Concord Monitor

NEW: Another Colorado contender

Two weeks after he was in Iowa, the Concord Monitor learned on Monday that Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado’s headed to New Hampshire this Friday, as he mulls a White House bid. The potential Democratic presidential contender will headline a house party at the Concord home of longtime activists Gerri and Ron King.

NEW: Count Holder out

While the field of Democratic presidential candidates continues to expand, the attorney general during former President Barack Obama’s administration announced Monday that he won’t be running for the White House in 2020. Instead, Eric Holder said he’ll keep battling to end partisan gerrymandering.
Fox News

That's all we have, enjoy the weekend! You can follow Paul here and contact Kieran here

Don't miss out!
Get THE 603's weekly newsletter
delivered right to your inbox.

© 2018 by THE 603 - First in the Nation