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LISTEN: Senator Jeanne Shaheen Talks FITN Primary with NH Radio

“They could have moved up more diverse states and left New Hampshire first. And the fact is, we are a place where candidates can come and engage with voters and they don't have to have a lot of name recognition.”

Today, Senator Jeanne Shaheen was on New Hampshire Today with Jack Heath and the Pulse of New Hampshire with Mike Pomp to discuss New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary and the ramifications of the DNC’s decision to alter the primary calendar in 2024. The proposed calendar puts New Hampshire Democrats in a no-win position instead of both uplifting diverse voters and keeping New Hampshire’s unique piece of the nominating process.

Key Points:

Senator Shaheen: I think they were misguided in their approach. And we will continue to make that case because what New Hampshire offers – and I support more diversity at the beginning of the process, I think everybody believes that's a good idea – but they didn't have to be mutually exclusive. They could have moved up more diverse states and left New Hampshire first. And the fact is, we are a place where candidates can come and engage with voters and they don't have to have a lot of name recognition. They don't have to have a big war chest. They don't have to be able to afford a plane that can fly them all around. And they have to talk about why they're running for president and what they want to do in the country. And that is really important to our presidential selection process.

Senator Shaheen: And I think the primary has worked really well in the presidential selection process for over 100 years. To vet candidates, to give candidates who may not be the best financed or have the biggest name, the most name recognition, or give the establishment candidate an opportunity to be heard. They have to engage with voters. Independents can participate in either the Republican or Democratic presidential primary, and often they go and listen to candidates on both sides and make a determination. So it's something that's worked very well. I, I certainly support the idea of increased diversity, but I think the Democratic Party could have done both. They could have moved up a more diverse state to an earlier contest and left New Hampshire where it was. I think our primary is going to go forward and continue to provide that opportunity for voters to engage with candidates, which is what we need for anybody running for president. ...


Senator Shaheen: Well, this has been threatened and tried before. And what we have learned over the years is that candidates come to New Hampshire because they do get that special opportunity to engage in ways that they can't in a bigger state like South Carolina, that reporters come because they love to see how candidates interact with voters, and voters participate and at a higher percentage than they do in almost any other state.



Listen to the full interview with Jack Heath here. Listen to the full interview with Mike Pomp here.

Transcript:


Jack Heath: First Nation presidential primary. You've been a defender of it. Ray Buckley, the Chairman, has written more letters to the national folks. You know, President Biden and the DNC want to take it to South Carolina. We'll set it first. But the question is, will the national Democratic powers that be respect New Hampshire's primary? Just your quick thoughts on this. And then also I just have to throw this in there at this news this morning. Governor Chris Sununu, speaking of primaries, he's running Facebook ads in South Carolina and Iowa, according to reports. Looks like a presidential campaign may be underway there. And do you think he might run for president? Your thoughts on the primary?


Senator Shaheen: Well, it seems like Governor Sununu is planning to run for president. So it will be interesting to see how he's received across the country. I think we have seen this movie before where parties, either Democrat or Republican, have tried to take away the New Hampshire primary. We have a law that says New Hampshire has to go a week before any similar contest and our law is going to be followed. And I think we tried to make that case to the Democratic Party. I think they were misguided in their approach. And we will continue to make that case because what New Hampshire offers and I support more diversity at the beginning of the process, I think everybody believes that's a good idea, but they didn't have to be mutually exclusive. They could have moved up more diverse states and left New Hampshire first. And the fact is, we are a place where candidates can come and engage with voters and they don't have to have a lot of name recognition. They don't have to have a big war chest. They don't have to be able to afford a plane that can fly them all around. And they have to talk about why they're running for president and what they want to do in the country. And that is really important to our presidential selection process.



Mike Pomp: We're speaking to you as Senator Jeanne Shaheen here on the Pulse of New Hampshire. One thing more I want to ask you, Senator, before we wind down our conversation this morning. Thank you for spending some time with us. We do appreciate it. Of course, you know, the head of New Hampshire Democratic Party has written to the National Democratic Committee to urge it not to change the party's presidential primaries, because, of course, the National Party wants to give the nation's first Democratic primary contest to South Carolina. But, of course, that New Hampshire party leaders, including you, say the plan would kind of change the centuries old tradition of providing that level playing field for presidential hopefuls. If it goes and the DNC says South Carolina goes first, we of course, we have a state law that says any presidential primary will go seven days before any other primary. So we probably would still have a primary beforehand, but I wonder how the national candidates will react to that. And I wonder how badly or how inconveniently New Hampshire delegates will be punished in some way, some sort of penalty. What do you sense here about that right now?


Senator Shaheen: Well, the party's threatening a number of things, but I think, as you point out, New Hampshire has a law that as we go one week ahead of any similar contest and we're going to follow New Hampshire's law. And I think the primary has worked really well in the presidential selection process for over 100 years. To vet candidates, to give candidates who may not be the best financed or have the biggest name, the most name recognition, or give the establishment candidate an opportunity to be heard. They have to engage with voters. Independents can participate in either the Republican or Democratic presidential primary, and often they go and listen to candidates on both sides and make a determination. So it's something that's worked very well. I, I certainly support the idea of increased diversity, but I think the Democratic Party could have done both. They could have moved up a more diverse state to an earlier contest and left New Hampshire where it was. I think our primary is going to go forward and continue to provide that opportunity for voters to engage with candidates, which is what we need for anybody running for president.

Mike Pomp: But do you sense that the candidates who do run for president, they will sort of understand them if the DNC and they vote to put South Carolina first? Will that put in the minds of the candidates to spend more time in South Carolina than they normally would in New Hampshire? What do you think? Even though New Hampshire would have on the election schedule a primary before South Carolina, but it would not be recognized nationally as the first? Senator Shaheen: Well, this has been threatened and tried before. And what we have learned over the years is that candidates come to New Hampshire because they do get that special opportunity to engage in ways that they can't in a bigger state like South Carolina, that reporters come because they love to see how candidates interact with voters and voters participate and at a higher percentage than they do in almost any other state. In the presidential selection contest, though, I think the primary is going to go forward. We've already seen on the Republican side where we know there are a lot of candidates beginning to come through the state they have already locked in New Hampshire. So I think the primary will go forward and we'll see what the Democratic Party does. In the past they have threatened to sanction certain states who went out of order and in the end, they didn't do that.

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