On the trail: Kuster to headline Biden campaign event

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster shows her button which says, ‘Make America Kind Again’ after voting at Hopkinton High School on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster shows her button which says, ‘Make America Kind Again’ after voting at Hopkinton High School on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

By PAUL STEINHAUSER

For the Valley News

Published: 05-26-2024 3:41 PM

When U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster announced in March that she wouldn’t seek re-election this year, the six-term lawmaker in New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District said that she still planned to hit the campaign trail on behalf of fellow Democrats up and down the ballot.

And starting next week, the Democrat from Hopkinton, N.H., will start doing just that, beginning with the candidate at the top of the ticket – President Joe Biden.

Kuster will headline an event for the president’s re-election team in New Hampshire when she joins a group of veterans next Wednesday in Concord for a roundtable discussion focused on what the Biden campaign calls “the threat Donald Trump poses to our democracy and the ongoing threat of political violence under a second Trump term.”

The event will spotlight the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by right-wing extremists and other Trump supporters who temporarily delayed Congressional certification of Biden’s 2020 election victory over the then-president.

According to the Biden campaign, Kuster will highlight what they call the “ongoing threat of political violence, Donald Trump’s blatant attacks on American democracy, and the urgency in reelecting President Biden and Vice President Harris to ensure history does not repeat itself.”

Since his defeat at the hands of Biden in November 2020, Trump has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims that the election was “rigged” due to “massive voter fraud” and “stolen” from him. The former president has made his allegations a key part of his 2024 bid to win back the White House, has not said if he would unconditionally accept the election results in November if he loses, and has pledged if he wins to pardon some of his supporters convicted for their roles in the Capitol attack.

Kuster was one of the final members of Congress evacuated from the House floor as rioters attacked the Capitol, and she has talked extensively about the experience and how democracy could have died on that dark day.

And in the months after the storming of the Capitol, Kuster spoke out about the harrowing experience and her battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), noting that it took roughly five weeks to recover with the supporter of family, friends, and professional treatment.

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Looking ahead to this autumn’s Biden-Trump presidential election rematch, Kuster said in a recent interview that “I truly believe this is an existential moment in our country.”

“I believe that our democracy is threatened by Donald Trump and I want to do everything in my power to make sure that democracy and civility and stability prevail,” she emphasized.

Biden in New Hampshire

Kuster’s headlining of a Biden campaign event with veterans will come a week after the president made an official White House stop in New Hampshire to tout the success of the PACT ACT, a measure which increased healthcare access for veterans with injuries from burn pits or other toxic exposure.

Biden stressed the importance of allowing veterans with medical issues caused by battlefield exposures to get the health care they need without having to face extra hurdles.

The president noted that "too many service members have not only braved the battlefield,” but that they did it “while breathing in toxic fumes from burn pits and other means.”

Biden also made a stop at the VFW in Merrimack, N.H., to meet with veterans and their families.

The president was greeted by Gov. Chris Sununu, Manchester Mayor Jay Ruis, and Kuster as he arrived Tuesday morning at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan flew aboard Air Force One on the flight to New Hampshire.

After his stops in New Hampshire, Biden headed to Boston later in the day for a trio of campaign fundraising events.

Poll Position

Biden holds a single-digit advantage over Trump in the battle for New Hampshire’s four electoral votes, according to a new non-partisan public opinion survey.

Biden grabs 44% support and Trump 41% among Granite Staters likely to vote in the presidential election, a University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll released on Thursday indicated. Biden’s margin is within the survey’s sampling error.

Democrat turned independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr stood at 3%, with Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 2%, independent Cornel West at 1% and 8% undecided.

According to the poll, in a two-person matchup, it’s Biden edging Trump 52%-48%. And 85% of those questioned said they’ve definitely made up their mind, with 12% leaning towards a candidate and the rest undecided.

The poll was conducted May 16-20, with a large sample including 1,140 likely voters in New Hampshire.

The Democratic president stands at 42% support among likely voters in the Granite State, with his Republican predecessor in the White House at 36%, according to a UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and YouGov poll released this week.

Eleven percent of those surveyed said they were backing Kennedy, with 9% saying they were undecided and 2% supporting other candidates.

The survey indicated that favorable ratings for Biden, Trump, and Kennedy were all well underwater.

“As is true of the national electorate, most New Hampshire voters polled are unhappy with the presidential ballot,” Rodrigo Castro Cornejo, the Center for Public Opinion’s associate director and a UMass Lowell assistant professor of political science, said.

The poll was conducted on-line May 6-14, with 600 likely voters in New Hampshire questioned. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 5.24 percentage points.

A separate poll conducted by Praecones Analytica for the conservative leaning NH Journal indicated the race in New Hampshire was deadlocked, with the president and his GOP challenger each at 36% support and Kennedy at just under 15%.

For the past quarter century, New Hampshire’s been considered a swing state in presidential elections, with winning margins nearly entirely in the single digits.

Trump lost New Hampshire to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by roughly 3,000 votes but four years later Biden carried the state by a more comfortable margin of just over seven points.

Most pundits expect a close contest this autumn, which will likely mean a good amount of travel to the state by the candidates and their top surrogates.

This week’s stop was Biden’s second trip to New Hampshire this year, following a visit in early March that included a policy event in Goffstown where the president made the case for budget proposals he announced days earlier in the State of the Union Address and spotlighted how his administration has been trying to help lower costs for American families coping with rising prices due to persistent inflation.

The president also stopped in Manchester after his Goffstown event to formally open his re-election campaign’s first coordinated field office in the state, and to speak with Democratic operatives, activists, and supporters. The campaign field office stop appeared to be part of the president's political mission of patching up hard feelings from the primary season.

The March trip was Biden's first time back in New Hampshire since an April 2022 stop in Portsmouth, N.H.

Biden angered plenty of Granite State Democrats in the wake of a move early last year by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) — following the president’s lead — to bump New Hampshire from its traditional role as the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state.

New Hampshire, adhering to a state law that mandates its presidential primary goes first, did just that — which meant the state's Jan. 23 nominating contest was unsanctioned on the Democratic side.

Biden kept his name off the ballot and steered clear of the state, but thanks to a well-organized write-in effort by New Hampshire's Democratic establishment leaders, the president easily won the primary over his long-shot challengers. A couple of weeks ago, the DNC announced it would welcome New Hampshire’s delegates to the national nominating convention this summer in Chicago after the state party conducted a very small party-run presidential primary days earlier.