Biden won't participate in New Hampshire primary debate against challengers Phillips and Williamson due to state's dispute with DNC primary schedule

 December 30, 2023

Though President Joe Biden and his acolytes would prefer everyone believe that he is running unopposed for re-election in 2024, in truth, he is facing a legitimate primary challenge from Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and self-help author Marianne Williamson.

Phillips and Williams will soon participate in a primary debate in New Hampshire that Biden will not attend due to a dispute between the Granite State and the Democratic National Committee over the scheduled date of the primary election, according to The Guardian.

In fact, Biden's name won't even appear on the Jan. 23 New Hampshire primary ballot because of the state's dispute with the DNC, though the party establishment and the president's supporters have launched a write-in campaign that could prove successful in avoiding an embarrassing opening loss for Biden in the first-in-the-nation primary election.

New Hampshire primary debate announced

The Hill reported Friday on the announcement that Rep. Phillips and Williamson will square off against each other in a Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire that won't include President Biden, the leading Democratic candidate and presumptive nominee for the 2024 election.

That Biden-less debate will be held on Jan. 8, be hosted by the New England College, and be moderated by former WMUR Political Director Josh McElveen, who now runs his own communications and strategy firm in the state.

The rules for the debate appear relatively standard in that each participating candidate will have 90 seconds each for opening and closing statements, one minute each to answer questions, and 30 seconds of rebuttal time if directly mentioned by their opponent.

This event will provide Phillips and Williamson, who have largely been ignored by the Biden campaign and their media allies, with a unique opportunity to plead their case to New Hampshire voters -- and beyond -- for why they should be supported over the incumbent president to be the Democratic Party's nominee next year.

Phillips did not reply to a request for comment from The Hill about the scheduled debate, but Williamson told the outlet, "My expectation is that it will be substantive and my definition of success is that I blow it out of the park."

The dispute between New Hampshire and the DNC

According to the New Hampshire Bulletin last month, the Granite State is holding a "rogue" primary election on Jan. 23 that is in direct defiance of alterations to the Democratic primary schedule made by the DNC with President Biden's approval but is in accordance with a state law requirement that New Hampshire maintain its traditional first-in-the-nation primary position.

That decision could result in DNC sanctions against the state, including being stripped of some or all of its delegates at the party's nominating convention next summer, and also resulted in Biden refusing to register to run in the primary election -- though, as noted, party officials and supporters have launched a write-in campaign on behalf of the president.

The DNC, for admittedly explicit racial reasons, altered the Democratic primary schedule in February to move up states with large minority populations like South Carolina and Nevada while pushing back predominately white states like New Hampshire and Iowa.

Biden still dominating Democratic primary polls

To be sure, while the Biden-less New Hampshire primary debate on Jan. 8 will grant Rep. Phillips and Williamson a platform to make their arguments to voters, expectations should be tempered about their actual chances to pull off an upset victory over the absent incumbent president.

Recent polling in the Granite State continues to show Biden with a fairly substantial lead over his challengers, albeit one that ranges from as little as 12 points to as many as 55 points, depending upon the particular poll.

Looking beyond just New Hampshire on the broader national level, the RealClearPolling average shows Biden with 68.3% support, more than 60 points higher than Williamson and Phillips with averages of 7.8% and 3.3%, respectively.

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