For Joe Biden, only 12 days remain until he must fight to confirm his much-touted primary frontrunner status – and momentum – in the well-worn battleground state of New Hampshire. In the eyes and minds of many voters, the numbers tell the story of a race still too close to call. In the eyes of former N.H. Gov. John Lynch, however, it’s Biden’s game to lose.
“I feel that strongly about the vice president and about this election,” Lynch, who served as the state’s governor from 2005 to 2013, told The New Hampshire on Jan. 29 during a visit to the University of New Hampshire (UNH). “I think it’s the most important election in our lifetime and, as I’ve said, Joe Biden is the most electable of the candidates running.”
The Hopkinton resident’s support for the former vice president is nothing new: he endorsed him on April 25, 2019, the day he began his race for the White House. Lynch’s support for Biden is the result of a longtime friendship with the former Delaware senator; in 2012, the Union Leader reported how Biden encouraged Lynch to run for governor for a fifth term that year. While he ultimately declined to seek that term, Lynch’s local stumping for Biden eight years later could easily be seen as a symbolic returning of the favor.
Lynch, who called Biden a “caring, sympathetic individual,” said his endorsement primarily stems from the candidate’s campaign promises, such as fighting climate change alongside younger activists and securing healthcare reforms, as well as a potential redux of the Affordable Care Act, in an effort to “expand the middle class.” Lynch, however, stressed that successful approaches toward education especially are key to shoring up support in the Granite State.
Specifically, Lynch explained that efforts to improve state-wide education, such as through raising student graduation rates and test scores, represented an extensive portion of his time as governor. He said that good state-wide education “provides the opportunity for young people to get good jobs, be able to provide for themselves and their families, to go on to higher education if that’s what they choose to do, like you all have chosen to do.”
Biden’s current education proposal, per his campaign website, includes halving federal undergraduate student loan payments through income-based repayment program reforms, providing two years of community college and other “high-quality training program[s]” debt-free, creating a new grant program to increase community college funding, and crafting “Title I” legislation aimed at helping postsecondary students at “under-resourced” four-year schools complete their degrees, among other promises.
Lynch stressed that Biden’s efforts in the realms of education and other issues, should he be elected, would help the candidate “unite the country at a time when this country is incredibly divided,” a mission Lynch says he can accomplish if he is successful in bringing Democratic, Republican and independent voters together into a “coalition” beyond traditional party lines.
“I trust that Joe Biden will be able to assemble a good group of advisors, and you’re only as good as your team,” Lynch said.
However, some both within and outside Biden’s “coalition” have expressed numerous concerns about the 77-year-old candidate, ranging from his age and occasional alleged “mental gaffes” during past debates, to accusations of physical misconduct following claims from roughly seven women that he inappropriately approached them with unwanted kisses and hugs.
When asked about such concerns, Lynch pointed toward his observations of Biden at debates, rallies and other campaign events, saying that Biden is “able to talk with incredible competence and experience” through voter dialogues. The former governor also touted the candidate’s “progressive” side, citing examples such as his authoring of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994.
“I admire anyone running for president of the United States,” he said. “…it’s a grueling job running for president of the United States, having to be in all the different states raising so much money, so I admire anyone who does it.”
Looking to the future, Lynch said Biden’s biggest obstacle against his frontrunner status chances of winning New Hampshire is the result of running against candidates from neighboring New England states, including Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
“It’s always a challenge for somebody to run against elected officials from neighboring states in New Hampshire,” he said. “Go back to 1992: lots of people think Bill Clinton won, but he didn’t; [former Sen.] Paul Tsongas won, who was from Massachusetts. Michael Dukakis in ’88 won from Massachusetts, so it’s always difficult…”
Despite that, however, the former governor believes strongly that Biden “knows New Hampshire really well, [and] cares about New Hampshire” enough to do well or even win the primary, and expresses confidence that Biden “is going to be able to restore a sense of ethics, integrity, decency and honesty to the White House” should he be elected.
Lynch himself, meanwhile, plans on continuing his role as a state-wide stumping “surrogate” for Biden, which he calls the “Live Free, Vote Joe” tour, over the next several days. He visited Concord, Manchester, Salem, Nashua and Wilton earlier in the week, and dropped by Dover, Somersworth and Rochester Wednesday in addition to Durham; Thursday saw Lynch tending to western New Hampshire on Thursday, with the northern edge of the state to follow in the coming days.
Regardless of his location over the next 12 days, however, one thing remains constant for John Lynch: he plans to support his political ally and longtime friend “anyway he wants me to.”
His one condition: “I’ll never leave New Hampshire.”