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New Hampshire leaders blast Biden's 'terrible' proposal to move first-in-the-nation primary

New Hampshire leaders blast Biden's proposal to move first-in-the-nation primary
New Hampshire leaders blast Biden's proposal to move first-in-the-nation primary 02:03

CONCORD, N.H. - President Joe Biden's proposed changes to the Democratic Party's primary calendar are sparking anger in New Hampshire.

The president said Thursday that Democrats should give up "restrictive" caucuses and prioritize diversity at the start of their presidential primary calendar — dealing a major blow to Iowa's decades-long status as the state that leads off the process and threatening New Hampshire's place on the political map.

At the Red Arrow in Manchester, NH, the topic was as hot as the food. "It should stay where it's always been. Period the end. Everything here is changing and it's not for the good," voter Jennifer Bryant said. 

Democratic National Committee members on Friday approved new rules putting South Carolina first, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on the same day a week later. Biden finished fifth in the New Hampshire primaries in 2020, and went on to win South Carolina. 

"For decades, Black voters in particular have been the backbone of the Democratic Party but have been pushed to the back of the early primary process," Biden wrote in a letter on personal stationery that did not carry the White House seal. "We rely on these voters in elections but have not recognized their importance in our nominating calendar. It is time to stop taking these voters for granted, and time to give them a louder and earlier voice in the process."  

WBZ political analyst Jon Keller says President Biden is saying when it comes to winning future elections New Hampshire is not the place to hold the primary. "It hasn't been a predictor of results. What Biden is saying is that the action is elsewhere. It's in the southwest. It's in the Black and Latino vote in states like Georgia, South Carolina," Keller said. 

Some New Hampshire voters agree. "It will be a big bump here but maybe better for the party if it's in a more diverse population," voter John Keegan said. 

New Hampshire political leaders are vowing that the Granite State won't lose its "First In The Nation" primary status, saying that a change would be against state law.

"It's tremendously disappointing that the president failed to understand the unique role that New Hampshire plays in our candidate selection process as the first primary state," New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said in a statement. "As frustrating as this decision is, it holds no bearing over when we choose our primary date: New Hampshire's state law stipulates that we will hold the 'First-in-the-Nation' primary. That status remains unchanged as we are bound by State statute." 

Fellow New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan called the proposal "misguided." 

"We will always hold the First in the Nation Primary, and this status is independent of the president's proposal or any political organization," Hassan said in a statement. "I look forward to welcoming Democratic and Republican candidates to New Hampshire — just like we always have."

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement that Biden "blew it" with this decision.

"For over 100 years, we have set the model for the rest of the country with consistently high voter turnout and accurate election results. It's a terrible disservice by Democrats to try and strip Granite Staters of the First in the Nation status that they have worked hard and earned time and time again," Sununu said. "The good news is that our primary will still be first and the nation will not be held to a substandard process dictated by Joe Biden and the Democrat Party."  

New Hampshire state law calls for holding the nation's first primary and where officials had for months threatened to simply move up their election regardless of what new rules the DNC approves. Other states have previously tried to violate party rules and jump closer to the front, only to be threatened with having their delegates not count toward their chosen candidate clinching the party's nomination.  

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