Sunday July 12th, 2020 7:53AM

Elizabeth Warren's challenge: Breaking out of murky middle

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Elizabeth Warren isn’t struggling like Joe Biden. But she isn’t soaring, like Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders.

Instead, the Massachusetts senator enters a critical stretch of the campaign relegated to the murky middle. She has to convince voters she has a viable path to the nomination, even if that path is unclear. Her campaign has spent millions of dollars flexing organizational muscle throughout the country, but she’s lagging in her own backyard ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

“I think it’s going to be tough if she doesn’t do well,” said Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

Warren’s standing has frustrated her supporters and advisers, who have watched last summer’s surge stagnate as she has struggled to kick the campaign into a new political gear. They are also aware of the realities of her situation, including the fact that her fundraising has fallen off since she pulled in an impressive $24.6 million last summer.

Warren placed a respectable third in Iowa, behind Buttigieg and Sanders. But a similar finish in New Hampshire could put her candidacy in peril.

Expectations for her here had been high. Although Sanders won New Hampshire by more than 20 points during the Democratic primary campaign in 2016, Warren is also a familiar figure for the state’s voters. Her team has been touting the endorsements of nearly 700 New Hampshire elected officials, party elders, political activists and community leaders.

And if Warren doesn’t win in New Hampshire, it’s unclear where she might. Nevada goes next, then South Carolina and a slate of Southern states with high concentrations of African American Democrats, a demographic that polls suggest the senator has struggled to connect with.

Christina Reynolds, vice president of communications for Emily’s List, said much of the political world is willing to make concessions for Warren's male counterparts that she herself doesn't get.

“We’re willing to give Biden the benefit of the doubt. We’re willing to argue it’s OK for him not to win,” Reynolds said of Biden’s lackluster fourth-place finish in Iowa. “What is frustrating to me is there’s a special case here, there’s a special case there. How come the special case never applies to the women?”

The footnotes of presidential primary history are filled with candidates who rose, then fizzled, whose potential never translated into votes and victories. Some came back in later elections and found more success, like John McCain after his 2000 primary defeat and Hillary Clinton after her 2008 primary defeat. Others shelve their White House ambitions and move on to other endeavors.

Warren is hoping to avoid that fate.

She rose in the polls last summer by pitching herself as a relatable policy wonk, a candidate with a plan for everything. But she hit a roadblock when she rolled out a “Medicare for All” plan that pushed off implementation for three years, angering some liberals.

Warren’s campaign has tweaked its message in recent weeks, with the senator stressing her ability to unite the Democratic Party. She has also leaned into gender, noting that women have done better in elections since President Donald Trump won the White House in 2016.

Warren struggled, though, to push those messages before a national audience during Friday’s debate, her highest-profile opportunity to reach New Hampshire voters before the primary.

Instead, she went long stretches without speaking and sidestepped multiple opportunities to draw sharp contrasts with rivals. She appeared poised to take on Buttigieg, one of the front-runners out of Iowa, when asked by moderators if he had been held sufficiently accountable for the rise in arrests of black residents on marijuana possession charges while he was mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

“No. You have to own up to the facts,” she said, then quickly shifted to a recitation of her own criminal justice proposals.

By night’s end, Warren wound up getting four minutes less of talk time than Sanders, her chief progressive rival.

Campaigning Saturday in Manchester, Warren said she wished she’d had more time: “I had my hand up a lot.”

Warren is trying to make up for that lost time in the final days before New Hampshire votes, even traveling Sunday to the state’s remote northern region where Sanders’ support is thought to be the strongest. She had three stops planned for Monday, the final full day of campaigning.

And her campaign’s organizational strength has indeed been on display. Decked out in the campaign’s signature “liberty green,” hundreds of supporters packed a stadium in Manchester on Saturday night for a Democratic Party dinner.

Warren jogged onto the stage and proclaimed that she was ready to exceed expectations.

“There are a lot of people who talk about what races aren’t winnable or what kind of people can't win," Warren said. "The way I see it, they're going to keep saying that right up until we get in the fight, we persist and we win.”

Theresa Davis, a 38-year-old who works in software services, drove two hours from Woodsville, New Hampshire, to see Warren on Sunday at a high school gymnasium in the state capital of Concord. Davis voted for Sanders in 2016 and may vote for him again. But she’s still considering Warren.

“I hope she stays in the race a while. Regardless of whether or not she wins, she is shaping some of the conversations that we need to have and that is important,” Davis said.

But she added: “I see Bernie having a clearer path forward, for sure.”


Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”


This story has been corrected to show Sanders won New Hampshire, not Iowa, by more than 20 points in 2016.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Not all born in American Samoa want US citizenship
A U.S. judge recently sided with three American Samoans in Utah wanting to be recognized as citizens
1:03AM ( 2 minutes ago )
Elizabeth Warren's challenge: Breaking out of murky middle
Elizabeth Warren isn’t struggling like Joe Biden
12:50AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Sanders to seek partial recanvass of Iowa caucus results
The Iowa caucuses haven't wrapped up yet
12:46AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
South Korea's 'Parasite' wins international feature Oscar
South Korean director Bong Joon Ho's dark comedy “Parasite” has won the Oscar  for best international feature, a category previously known as best foreign film
11:49PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: ‘Parasite’ wins best picture Academy Award
“Parasite” has won the best picture Academy Award, making history as the first foreign language film to win the ceremony's top honor
11:32PM ( 1 hour ago )
'Parasite' wins best picture Oscar
“Parasite” has won the best picture Oscar, becoming the first foreign-language film to take home the biggest honor in film
11:29PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Dern wins supporting actress Oscar for 'Marriage Story'
Laura Dern’s turn as a steely divorce attorney in “Marriage Story” made the case with Oscar jurors
10:57PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: ‘Joker’ composer wins original score Oscar
Hildur Guðnadóttir has won the best original score Academy Award for “Joker,” becoming the first woman to win in the category since 1998
10:45PM ( 2 hours ago )
Mainland China virus cases rise again after earlier decline
Mainland China has reported another rise in cases of the new virus after a sharp decline the previous day, while the number of deaths grew by 97 to 908
10:36PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Klobuchar pushes to defy expectations in New Hampshire
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she’s plans to keep defying expectations heading into Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary
7:59PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Warren says she's best positioned to beat Trump
Elizabeth Warren is tweaking her standard campaign speech, saying that she’s in the best position to win what some see as an “unwinnable” election for any Democrat against President Donald Trump
6:48PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: Tom Steyer calls for $22 hourly mimimum wage
Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer says he would call for a $22 hourly minimum wage if elected president
6:40PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Elections
Biden tells NH Democrats that Buttigieg 'not a Barack Obama'
Joe Biden is scrambling to salvage his presidential campaign as New Hampshire’s primary looms. The former vice president has sharpened his criticism of a leading rival, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, pointing to his comparatively thin resume
9:06PM ( 1 day ago )
Democrats on edge after 2020 election season's ragged launch
Democrats are on edge over embarrassing technical issues that marred this week's Iowa caucuses, and they're worried about the lower-than-expected turnout in the first contest of the 2020 election season
7:46PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Biden: first two states important, not critical
Joe Biden is continuing to waffle over whether he needs to do well in New Hampshire even as he promised supporters at a Manchester campaign office “the reports of our death are premature
5:10PM ( 1 day ago )
General Election News
Front-runners Buttigieg and Sanders beat back debate attacks
With urgency rising in their nomination fight, Democratic presidential front-runners Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg  beat back a barrage of attacks during a debate in New Hampshire
12:27AM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Bloomberg isn't at debate, but he's name-dropped
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg didn’t qualify for the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire -- but it didn’t always feel that way
10:18PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Steyer asks Biden to disavow surrogate's comment
Democrat Tom Steyer has twice openly called on Joe Biden to publicly disavow a top surrogate's comments that Steyer characterized as "openly racist
9:59PM ( 2 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Top 3 parties in dead heat after Irish parliament elections
An exit poll suggests Ireland’s top three parties have finished in a virtual dead heat in parliamentary elections after a campaign dominated by concerns about economic austerity and a housing crisis
6:05PM ( 1 day ago )
New Delhi votes with Modi's popularity on the line
Residents of India's capital have voted in a crucial state election in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party is seeking to regain power after a 22-year gap and major victories in a national vote
9:49AM ( 1 day ago )
Sanders' foes say 'democratic socialist' label will hurt
Former Vice President Joe Biden has predicted he will “take a hit” in New Hampshire's upcoming Democratic presidential primary
8:46PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Sanders to seek partial recanvass of Iowa caucus results
The Iowa caucuses haven't wrapped up yet
12:46AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Iraqi officials: US will grant vital Iran sanctions waiver
Three senior Iraqi officials say the U.S. has signaled its willingness to extend sanctions waivers enabling the country to continue importing vital Iranian gas and electricity imports
12:46AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Buttigieg on defense as rivals aim to blunt his momentum
Pete Buttigieg has been on defense in the days leading up to Tuesday's New Hampshire primary as his Democratic presidential rivals attacked him on everything from his struggle to connect with black voters to accepting campaign contributions from large donors
12:41AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Deluge in Australia drenches fires and eases 3-year drought
Drought, wildfires and now flooding have given Australia's weather an almost Biblical feel this year
12:33AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Trump's $4.8 billion budget proposal revisits rejected cuts
President Donald Trump is offering a $4.8 trillion election-year budget plan that recycles previously rejected cuts to domestic programs to promise a balanced budget in 15 years
12:22AM ( 44 minutes ago )