The final Joe Biden event in New Hampshire took place at a church in Manchester, the state’s biggest city. Over the weekend, I saw two of his opponents, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, at events in smaller towns that attracted crowds of a thousand or more. Less than two miles away, Donald Trump was speaking at an arena of around 12,000 people, including some who camped out overnight in subfreezing temperatures to get in. Bernie Sanders was being feted by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at an arena concert in Durham featuring The Strokes.
At the Biden event, members of the media, which loves to cover a funeral, almost outnumbered the candidate’s supporters.
The dismal showing, not to mention the results exactly a week earlier in Iowa, suggested that Biden’s critics were right and that his advisers were wrong: Biden’s glaring flaws — his age, his rambling speaking style, his struggle to spark enthusiasm — caught up with him.
As is frequently the case at one of his events, there were reminders of the darkness Biden has been through. “When I met Joe he was rising from the tragedy of losing his wife and daughter,” Jill Biden said while introducing him.
“I’ve lost a lot,” Biden shouted at the end of his remarks, “but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and lose this country to Donald Trump.” He pounded his lectern to each syllable in Trump’s name as if he was physically hitting him. He looked genuinely pained by the idea that he might not be the one to face Trump and win the chance to usher in the restoration of civility and mainstream liberalism that his campaign believed voters craved.