Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg returns to the crucial general election battleground state of New Hampshire on Saturday, to headline a major state Democratic Party fundraising gala.
While the mission of the trip is to support Democrats running in November’s midterm elections, his stop in the state that for a century’s held the first primary in the White House race could also potentially pay dividends if President Biden eventually decides against seeking a second term and Buttigieg ultimately launches another presidential campaign.
Buttigieg will headline the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner, the state party’s largest annual fundraising event. Longtime state party chair Ray Buckley said that over 750 people would be attending and called it the largest event of either party in the Granite State since the February 2020 presidential primary.
“He’s a very powerful spokesperson for the Biden administration and the successes of the administration and will articulate a clear vision of where we’re headed,” Buckley told Fox News.
This is Buttigieg’s third visit to New Hampshire since taking over as Transportation secretary in early 2021 at the start of Biden’s administration. The first two trips — in Manchester in December of last year and in the northern New Hampshire city of Berlin last month — were official visits. Buttigieg has been crisscrossing the country the past 10 months to showcase the benefits of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package the president signed into law last year.
“I believe that good policy is good politics,” Buttigieg told Fox News during his New Hampshire stop last December. “I believe that at the end of the day, the whole point of campaigning and elections is that is if you win them, you get to govern.”
This latest trip is a political stop, in a key swing state that’s holding high profile Senate and House races that could determine if the Democrats are able to maintain their razor-thin majorities in Congress in the midterm elections.
Buttigieg is well known in New Hampshire and was a major draw to headline the state party dinner. The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor went from long shot to one of the top contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, narrowly edging Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Iowa caucuses before coming in close second to Sanders in the New Hampshire presidential primary.
With the starting gun in the 2024 White House race firing after the conclusion of November’s elections, questions persist whether the 79-year-old Biden will seek a second term as president.
While Biden has repeated said for a year and a half that he intends to run for re-election, the president this month added uncertainly into the 2024 conversation by noting that “it’s much too early” to make any decision.
“Look, my intention, as I said, that began with is that I would run again. But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen,” Biden said in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
There were a slew of stories early this summer over Democratic dissatisfaction with Biden potentially running for re-election, and a University of New Hampshire (UNH) Survey Center Granite State Poll which suggested Buttigieg and Biden were basically tied for support among 2024 Democratic primary voters. But the president’s rebounding poll numbers during the late summer and a series of legislative victories for his administration in Congress has quieted much of the speculation.
Nevertheless, some speculation continues over whether Biden will seek another term, and which Democrats will run if the president doesn’t launch another campaign.
“Heading to New Hampshire ahead of a midterm in an absolute battleground state like New Hampshire, and with existing volunteers and former staff from his primary run in the state, there will obviously be political benefits to the secretary coming to New Hampshire, whatever 2024 looks like,” New Hampshire based Democratic strategist and activist Lucas Meyer told Fox News.
“It’s always good to have infrastructure and relationships in New Hampshire and to keep those fresh. It’s good politics all around for him to be here,” Meyer, the founder of the progressive public advocacy group 603 Forward and former president of the New Hampshire Young Democrats, emphasized.
And Buckley noted that “clearly there are a number of national leaders that stay in touch and are interested in future efforts, whether it be in two years or six years. We’ll continue to welcome everybody as we do and make sure everybody has a level playing field here.”
Republicans took aim at Buttigieg ahead of his trip.
Republican National Committee New Hampshire based spokesperson Andrew Mahaleris charged in a statement to Fox News that “Pete Buttigieg continues to gallivant across the country on a pipe-dream run for president instead of fixing the problems he helped create.”