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VIDEO: Senators Shaheen and Hassan Fight for our First-in-the-Nation Primary on Morning Joe

In case you missed it, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Maggie Hassan were on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning to discuss why New Hampshire should retain our first-in-the-nation primary status.


Yesterday, NHDP Chair Ray Buckley sent a letter to DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison highlighting how the DNC’s requirements leave “no reasonable recourse for New Hampshire Democrats to comply, and could harm Democrats’ 2024 electoral prospects across the board in this critical battleground state.” He also noted how “the DNC’s proposal could have satisfied two important objectives: elevating the importance of Black voters and retaining New Hampshire’s status as the first-in-the-nation primary, which would safeguard a battleground state for Democrats.”


The full video from Morning Joe is here.

Key Points:


Senator Hassan: And we agree with the goal that the DNC has articulated of increasing geographic and demographic diversity in the primary, but including New Hampshire as the first-in-the-nation state and increasing diversity aren't mutually exclusive. And at the end of the day, this is about making sure that when New Hampshire has its primary, Democrats are on the playing field in a very purple state that has four very important electoral votes.

Senator Shaheen: The fact is we have a Republican legislature and a Republican governor, and they're already attacking Democrats and the DNC for the effort to move the New Hampshire primary.

Senator Shaheen: And we think New Hampshire will continue to provide a great venue for candidates who may not be well known, who may not have big war chests, who may not be establishment candidates to come through and really engage with voters who pay attention to the candidates as they come through.

Senator Shaheen: One of the things we need to do as a Democratic Party is to be able to attract independents to support our candidates, and New Hampshire gives them an opportunity to see how those Democratic candidates are going to fare with independents.

Full Transcript:


Mika Brzezinski: The New Hampshire Democratic Party continues to push back against planned changes to the 2024 Democratic nominating process that would strip the state of its first-in-the-nation status. The proposal removes Iowa as an early-voting state and places New Hampshire and Nevada on the same day. It's a move the party claims intended to give a diverse group of voters an early say in the process.


In a letter to DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison, the head of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said the changes amount to an undue burden, writing in part this “is our hope that the people of New Hampshire are not penalized by arbitrary and unfair requirements placed on them by the DNC and that these requirements do not punish our Democratic delegation and President Biden in the elections to come.”


And joining us now, Democratic senators from New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan. I know you heard me in the tease and you're thinking. Brzezinski, get it right. It's Hassan. It's good to have you both with me this morning. And I'm curious., I'll start with Senator Hassan, what is the punishment or the burden that these changes would impose on the state of New Hampshire?


Senator Maggie Hassan: Well, let's just take a step back, Mika, and thanks for having us on. Ever since Granite Staters pushed to bring the nominating process out of backrooms and into neighborhoods, New Hampshire has gone first and really vetted candidates on an equal basis, regardless of war chests or name recognition. Right. And we have a state law that says we will go before any other states primaries.


So the concerns that we have raised in our letter to the DNC is simply that they are telling New Hampshire that in order to comply with their proposal, our officials have to break state law. And we agree with the goal that the DNC has articulated of increasing geographic and demographic diversity in the primary, but including New Hampshire as the first-in-the-nation state, and increasing diversity aren't mutually exclusive. And at the end of the day, this is about making sure that when New Hampshire has its primary, Democrats are on the playing field in a very purple state that has four very important electoral votes.


Brzezinski: Senator Shaheen, can the legislature work, change, modify the law? And what's, again, the burden on the state of New Hampshire? Doesn't this plan, according to the DNC, sort of help with the process? Isn't this good for the Democratic Party?


Senator Jeanne Shaheen: Well, again, we agree with the idea that diversity is good for the party, but we think the party could have done both, could have left New Hampshire, where it is, where our state law says we must be and moved up additional states to provide that diversity. The fact is we have a Republican legislature and a Republican governor, and they're already attacking Democrats and the DNC for the effort to move the New Hampshire primary.


The Republican calendar is already set. We know that there are going to be a lot of candidates coming through New Hampshire as part of that Republican calendar. And so we don't think because they've already told us they're not about to change the law, that that makes sense. We need to comply with the law. And we think New Hampshire will continue to provide a great venue for candidates who may not be well known, who may not have big war chests, who may not be establishment candidates to come through and really engage with voters who pay attention to the candidates as they come through.


Mike Barnicle: So Senator Hassan, Senator Shaheen, both of you are former governors of New Hampshire. Both of you have been participating in New Hampshire politics for quite some time. I'd like each of you to take a crack at the following question. What makes New Hampshire and the New Hampshire primary so special, so unique that it should be singled out as the first in the nation Democratic presidential primary? Senator Hassan.


Hassan: Oh, look, we engage with candidates on a retail basis, essentially in New Hampshire when candidates come through. All politics are local again, because we are a small state. You can travel the length and width of our state in a day. You can be in urban areas. You can be in rural areas. We have a highly, highly engaged electorate and we have shown a commitment to doing this and doing it well and making sure, as Jeanne just said, that regardless of whether you've got a big war chest or high name recognition, you have an equal shot.


And this vetting process creates better candidates and it creates better presidents. And it's something that Granite Staters have been committed to since they first had the idea to pull the nominating process away from backroom deals and into the communities in our state and across our country.


Shaheen: You know, we've had that 100 plus years of creating a culture where voters really engage in elections. We have probably as many elections as any state in the country. Everybody except the United States senators ran every two years, including the governor. We have Town Meeting at all of our communities except for our 13 cities. Every other community has a town meeting once a year, and the presidential primary has been an opportunity for voters, and particularly independents who really take the contest seriously.

They will go see Republicans and Democrats and then make a decision. And I think that kind of vetting is really important to the process. One of the things we need to do as a Democratic Party is to be able to attract independents to support our candidates, and New Hampshire gives them an opportunity to see how those Democratic candidates are going to fare with independents.


Brzezinski: Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. Thank you both very much for coming in this morning. We'll watch what happens.

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