In New Hampshire, 2020 Dems urge voters to not play it safe

Democratic presidential candidate former Housing Secretary Julian Castro speaks at the New Hampshire state Democratic Party convention Saturday in Manchester, NH.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Several Democratic presidential candidates urged voters in New Hampshire on Saturday to not play it safe in the 2020 election, leveling an implicit critique of front-runner Joe Biden.

Biden has centered his campaign on his years of experience in Washington and a perceived ability to draw the support of white, working-class voters away from President Donald Trump. Speaking at the New Hampshire Democrats’ state convention, Biden’s rivals told voters to aim for more.

“There is a lot at stake and people are scared. But we can’t choose a candidate we don’t believe in because we’re scared,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who drew a raucous reception. “And we can’t ask other people to vote for someone we don’t believe in.”

Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., was more explicit.

“Every time we’ve tried to play it safe with established and Washington-tenured figures, every single time we’ve come up short,” Buttigieg told reporters after his remarks.

Warren, Buttigieg and others never mentioned Biden by name. But the target of their message was clear: the former vice president who has led primary polls throughout the year despite questions about whether a 76-year-old white man is best-positioned to be the standard-bearer for an increasingly diverse party.

Saturday’s convention kicked off a critical stretch in New Hampshire, which in February will hold the nation’s first primary. Nineteen candidates descended on the state to rally voters and flex their campaign’s organizational strength.

Biden was the first candidate to speak and focused his remarks on Trump, saying the president has “unleashed the deepest, darkest forces in this nation.” He added: “We cannot, and I will not, let this man be reelected president of the United States of America.”

Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro said that if Democrats want to ensure Trump is defeated, “we can’t do the same old thing.”

“We’re not going to win by just trying to be safe,” he said.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who enlivened the crowd with his morning address, also urged voters to seek more than simply a candidate they believe can beat Trump.

“Beating Donald Trump is the floor, it’s not the ceiling,” Booker said.

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