ANALYSIS: Biden's 'Senior Center' campaign moves to New Hampshire

“I'm waiting for someone to shout 'Bingo!'”

That's how a journalist covering President Joe Biden's visit to the Westwood Park YMCA in Nashua described the scene as a quiet crowd waited for the leader of the free world to appear.

Of course that's not a fair comment.

Bingo is really fun.

There was no fun in the quiet, half-full hall of the Westwood Park Y on Tuesday. The crowd was subdued, almost sombre. Elevator music played softly from the speaker system and people chatted quietly in the room.

In the back of the room, where cynical reporters, tech teams and political hacks hang out, someone snorted: “Maybe Biden died?”

“How could you tell?” came the reply.

Even stranger: the venue wasn't full. It was an event featuring the President of the United States, and the hand-picked attendees were scattered around the room like estranged cousins ​​at a family reunion.

“Are they still practicing social distancing?” quipped state Rep. Keith Ammon (R-New Boston) on X.

As the broadcast began and Biden shuffled to the lectern, there was none of the excitement associated with a political candidate galvanizing his supporters. Biden only spoke for 12 minutes. He said nothing memorable or inspiring. The crowd clapped politely (although rarely) and then it was over.

The point is not that Biden didn't meet Trump standards for a public appearance, although he certainly did. Even more people stood along the street in front of the Y, waving Trump flags and chanting “Let's go, Brandon!” as they listened to Biden speak.

Biden will never compete with Trump as a political showman. When it comes to stage presence, Biden has only two speeds: angry and confused.

But he's still the president. And when you're the president of the United States and you walk into a room, you want it to matter.

Trump, Obama, Bush – have they ever given a speech on the stump to a crowd that looked like they were waiting to get a timeshare in Florida?

Nothing about Biden's visit to New Hampshire made any sense.

When the White House announced his arrival, the reaction in political circles in the Granite State was confused. Why is Biden, who rarely leaves the DC-Philly-Delaware triangle, dragging himself to the Granite State with just four Electoral College votes and a near-perfect track record of supporting Democrats for president?

When it was announced that he would be giving a speech celebrating the PACT Act — a law passed in 2022 that makes it easier for veterans exposed to toxic compounds to receive VA health care — people were confused again. Of course it's great to support veterans, but who is anti-veterans? Why is this a hot political topic? What's the point of differentiating with Trump?

Then came the NHJournal poll showing Biden tied with Trump in the state, and the motive for Biden's visit seemed to become clearer. His team needs to see similar polls and wants to lock down this state.

But wait — if Biden is really in danger of losing New Hampshire in November, how did his nap while visiting Nashua help?

After Biden's speech, he worked his way through the small crowd, taking photos and donning his iconic aviator sunglasses. There was none of the celebrity hype that big politicians usually generate. Democratic officials gossiped in corners. Karine Jean-Pierre was absentmindedly typing text messages on her iPhone. Asked about the new poll showing Biden in trouble in New Hampshire, she said she couldn't comment on such an overtly political issue and suggested Rep. Annie Kuster, who was standing nearby.

Kuster said “no comment” and then quickly fled.

And so it went. No rallying cry from Biden calling on patriots to join his cause. No “The only poll that matters is the one on Election Day!” No “New Hampshire is Biden Country.” Just political hacks dodging questions and looking for the next door.

“That was really bad, wasn't it?” a confused reporter asked when it would all be over. “What was the point?”

For many political experts in New Hampshire, it is almost impossible to believe that a Democrat could lose New Hampshire to Donald Trump.

But after half an hour with Biden and his fans in Nashua, a Trump victory no longer seemed possible. It seemed anything but inevitable.

Anna Harden

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