Former Vice President Joe Biden is taking a day off campaigning and, it seems, flying home to Delaware, just days out of the New Hampshire primary, where he’s slated to come in second, at best.
The Washington Post’s Matt Viser reported Thursday morning that Biden’s campaign has no events planned for New Hampshire on Thursday and that a charter plane, presumably carrying Biden, flew from Manchester, NH, back to Biden’s home state late last night, indicating that Biden is cooling his jets as a New Hampshire loss looms.
Five days from the New Hampshire primary — and one day from a high-stakes debate — Joe Biden has no events in the state. And a charter plane last night flew from Manchester, NH, to Wilmington, Delaware. pic.twitter.com/byoobThTpB
— Matt Viser (@mviser) February 6, 2020
Viser wasn’t able to conclusively identify the plane as Biden’s, but the same jet is scheduled to return to Manchester later in the day and then depart for Little Rock, Arkansas, where Dr. Jill Biden is doing a campaign event as a surrogate for her husband. The itinerary tracks with the Bidens’ tight schedule.
There are only five days until New Hampshire-ites go to the polls and Biden isn’t technically that far behind. He’s polling between six and eight points off the leader, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), according to polls released Wednesday, and he’s a few points ahead of Pete Buttigieg, who is riding a wave of support coming out of a big showing in Iowa. For Biden, a few campaign appearances in New Hampshire could mean the difference between second and third place — and a result he can justify, given that Sanders is wildly popular in New Hampshire and won handily over Hillary Clinton just four years ago there, and one he can’t.
But Biden may be doing some soul-searching instead of flesh-pressing Thursday, amid reports that his campaign is in upheaval, with senior staffers in a panic over Biden’s fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.
Politico reports that Biden’s staff knew they probably wouldn’t come in first but were “floored” to discover that they will likely end up at a distant fourth, with both Sanders and former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg placing better than the former Veep.
“Biden’s unexpectedly weak performance Monday — he’s in fourth place with 16 percent with 97 percent of precincts reporting — has provoked frustration and recriminations within the campaign, according to interviews with more than a dozen campaign aides and surrogates,” according to the Washington, D.C.-based outlet. “Donors needed to be calmed. Staffers began pointing fingers over what exactly went wrong. The campaign parted ways with its Iowa field director, Adrienne Bogen.”
“Outside the campaign,” Politico noted, “Biden’s Iowa train wreck revived questions about the durability of his candidacy, and threatened to slow a fundraising operation that was already showing signs of stress.”
Biden’s staffers had “choice words,” as reports described it, for the Iowa operation.
“It was a cluster-f***,” a “sh*t show,” and a “f***ing disaster,” according to on-the-ground operatives who spoke with Politico.
But while it may have been a surprise result for Biden’s team, it was clear from the hard numbers that his operation was nowhere near as comprehensive as Sanders’ and Buttigieg’s. Sanders still had a loyal base leftover from 2016 and Buttigieg blanketed the state, focusing all of his campaign’s efforts — and money — on building a support system among recently relocated Millennials. His operation placed staffers in up-and-coming cities and towns and made personal contact with voters who had moved to the state since 2016.
Biden largely ignored Iowa until late November, when it became clear that, if he did not do something, he’d be out of the game until at least Nevada. Although his “No Malarkey” tour criss-crossed Iowa in the weeks before the primary, he did not manage to raise his numbers.