• Paul Steinhauser

Top N.H. supporters hope Biden makes bid for White House

Presidential hopeful Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., (left) smiles after filing his declaration of candidacy papers to have his name on the ballot for the New Hampshire presidential primary in 2007 at the State House in Concord. AP file

John Broderick has known Joe Biden for more than three decades.

The former chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court and longtime supporter of the former vice president said he’d “absolutely” back Biden again if he runs for the White House in 2020.

“I’d be 100 percent with Joe Biden. He has the experience, clearly. But what he also has, what American needs now, is a reattachment to core values,” Broderick told the Monitor. “He is the real deal and I would be honored to help him if he decides to run.”

Biden has eyed the presidency for more than three decades, running unsuccessful campaigns in 1988 and 2008. He also toyed with launching a campaign in 2004 and passed on running in the 2016 cycle, as he and his family dealt with the death of his son, Beau, from brain cancer.

The former vice president’s been mulling a 2020 bid for months and this week in Montana he sparked more speculation that he is gearing up for a final stab at winning the White House.

“I think I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president,” he said during a stop on his book tour.

Dan Eaton, another friend who has backed Biden’s presidential bids since the 1980s, keeps no secrets when it comes to another run.

“I’m ready now,” said Eaton, a co-chairman of Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign in New Hampshire of and Granite State leader of the Draft Biden 2016 Committee. “I’ll certainly be ready in January and I’ve been keeping contact with several key people, and also lots of new folks.”

The longtime state representative from Stoddard says Biden has a clear advantage over the two-dozen potential White House hopefuls on the Democratic side.

“I’m looking at the field that’s out there. There’s a lot of very good, capable, qualified, Democrats,” Eaton said. “But I don’t think any that reach the bar that the vice president does.”

Lou D’Allesandro said he saw Biden in early autumn.

The longtime Democratic state senator from Manchester was invited to attend a speech by Biden at the Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Boston.

“He looked terrific,” D’Allesdandro said. “He’s a great speaker and he’s a down-to-earth guy.”

To run for president and win, a candidate needs likeability and trust, and Biden has both, D’Allesdandro said.

If the former vice president does run again, D’Allesdandro strongly hinted whom he’d back.

“I’m very fond of Joe Biden,” D’Allesdandro said.

Biden hasn’t appeared in the Granite State since the spring of 2017, when he headlined a major New Hampshire Democratic Party fundraising dinner. His appearance in Boston in late September was as close as he came to New Hampshire during the 2018 midterm campaign. But he did stump for fellow Democrats in Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina, the three other states that, along with New Hampshire, kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.

While he hasn’t visited here, members of Biden’s political team have reached out in recent months to top Granite State allies.

“There’s been a reach out from the team just on keeping information up to date and correct,” Eaton said.

Biden, 76, is dismissed by some Democrats as too old and too much of a relic of the past to be the party’s standard bearer in 2020 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s mulling another White House bid, is 77, while President Donald Trump is 72. They argue Biden’s the kind of adult who can take on the president, especially with white working-class voters who helped Trump capture the White House in 2016.

Like the former vice president, many in Biden’s New Hampshire network are also aging, with stalwarts such as Eaton, Broderick and D’Allesdandro in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

But Eaton argued that there’s a lot of new blood in the state for Biden.

“You’ve got the folks who have always been on board, holding on the sidelines, waiting to see what he does, and a whole bunch of new folks who are hopeful,” he said. “What’s heartwarming for me is that there are a lot of new folks entering the political field that are energized about vice president Biden and they’re hoping he will run.”

Not everybody’s on board yet.

Terry Shumaker has been close friends with Biden for more than 30 years and supported his 1988 campaign.

But the Manchester-based attorney and former U.S. ambassador to Trinidad, who’s been a close friend and adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton for decades, said he’s in no rush this time around to immediately back a candidate.

“This cycle, unlike most cycles in the last 25 years, I have the luxury of waiting to decide,” he said.

Shumaker said any candidate who wants to win will need to take New Hampshire seriously.

“One of the things I’m going to look at with regard to any candidate is their commitment to running a nationwide race, the ability to win, their experience, and whether or not they will commit to spending time in New Hampshire because I think it’s very, very hard to win the nomination without doing well here.”

If Biden does launch a bid, he’ll have an open invitation to headline the leading Labor Day gathering in the Granite State, which was headlined by Sanders each of the last two years.

“If Biden gets into the race, we will certainly extend an invitation to him to speak at our Labor Day breakfast,” New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Glenn Bracket said.

Broderick said he knows that this is an important personal decision for Biden.

“I would love him to run,” Broderick said. But he knows “what a difficult journey that family has had.”

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

© 2018 by THE 603 - First in the Nation