MANCHESTER, N.H. — Facing the prospect of a bracing defeat, Joe Biden is fleeing the first-in-the-nation primary state Tuesday to retreat to his stronghold of South Carolina.
“I’m going to head to South Carolina tonight and I’m going to go to Nevada,” Biden, listing off the last two states that will vote later this month, told reporters during a stop at a Manchester Dunkin’ Donuts.
Biden’s surprise decision to exit the state for South Carolina — where his campaign is throwing a “launch party” — is the latest tactic in his strategy to shift the focus from his big loss in Iowa and his expected defeat in New Hampshire.
The campaign argues that Biden, who has enjoyed outsize support from black voters and strong backing from Latinos, was disadvantaged by the majority white electorates in the first two early states.
“I’m still mildly hopeful here in New Hampshire,” Biden said. “And we’ll see what happens.”
Biden said that, “from the beginning,” his campaign urged voters and the news media to consider the first four early states as part of one phase in the campaign.
Asked what message he’s sending to voters in New Hampshire by leaving, Biden essentially repeated himself.
“My message is that I’ve got to get to South Carolina,” he said. “I’ve gotta get to Nevada after that. I’m going to South Carolina and then to Nevada. And I’ve said from the beginning we’re gonna do that.”
But what does it say when he’s leaving the state early?
“It says that I’m going to South Carolina. That’s what it says,” Biden replied.
When asked if undecided voters in New Hampshire would not vote for him now that he’s leaving early, Biden said, “No, I don’t think so.”
“The rest of the nation is out there. There’s an awful lot of electoral votes to be had,” Biden said. “And we’re going to see. But I think we’re going to do well in Nevada and South Carolina. And we’ll go from there.”