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New Hampshire Democrats Discuss Last Night's Debate

In less than a month, New Hampshire residents will hit the polls in the nation’s first 2020 primary election.

On Wednesday, host Jeremy Hobson headed to Concord, New Hampshire, to talk to voters about the upcoming Feb. 11 primary and their thoughts on Tuesday night’s debate.

He caught up with three New Hampshire Democrats: 39-year-old teacher Somayeh Kashi; 67-year-old Dr. Lyn Lindpaintner; and 21-year-old Davis Bernstein, who serves as president of the Keene State College Democrats.

None of the three voters feel certain about their top pick for the Democratic nomination. But there’s one thing they all know for sure — they’re willing to vote for whoever opposes Trump in the general election.

“I guess it boils down, for me, to tactics and thinking of Donald Trump standing next to somebody on a debate stage,” Lindpaintner says, “and who’s going to be able to swing with his tactics and come out strong.”

Interview Highlights

On which candidate did the best during Tuesday night’s debate

Davis Bernstein: “I still like [Elizabeth] Warren and Bernie [Sanders]. I find myself to be more progressive in most situations. And I didn’t necessarily enjoy their feud last night. So I don’t think either of them came out on top. But I think they did do the best. Both of them did the best out of the six.”

Somayeh Kashi: “I went in for Bernie and I came out kind of confused after the feud between him and Warren. And then I really actually like Pete Buttigieg. I thought he was really strong last night. He sounded really confident. And so that was kind of impressive and then made me take a second look at him.

“I felt like Bernie didn’t really give me any solutions to any issues. He sort of told us what the problems were. Warren did have a few moments where she was talking about some of her ideas of what she would like to do and Pete Buttigieg did as well. So that’s why I was a little confused. But you know, on book, I typically vote for Bernie.”

Lyn Lindpaintner: “I’ve been pretty undecided. I really find that this is such a strong group of candidates. I’m happy with any of them as president at this point. I would love to see that change happen anytime. Going in, I’ve been lately leaning more toward Bernie. Interestingly, although I want to see a woman on the ticket and I do think Elizabeth is a very strong candidate too … I don’t see that the different individuals are gonna make that huge a difference.”


On the significance of past votes — like how Joe Biden voted in favor of the Iraq War, but Sanders voted against it

Bernstein: “I’d say so, yes, especially when it comes toward the general election. We saw what Trump did to Hillary in 2016. He attacked her very hard for her pro vote on the Iraq war. Even though he was lying, he was also in favor for it at times. I think it’s better to have a nominee that has a really clean record and didn’t vote for a disastrous war that has been going on for almost my entire lifetime.

Lindpaintner: “Yeah, I feel very similarly. I love Joe Biden. I’ve always been an admirer of his. I’m disappointed in how he comes across on the debates. I don’t see him as being at the same level of sort of verbal intensity and articulateness these days, although I think his record, aside from that vote and aside from the vote on incarceration, the crime bill, that is a problem for him in this election. I think his record is a fine record overall. I wouldn’t have a problem with him, but I think overall it’s a real strength of Bernie Sanders to have had that insight.”

Kashi, who is Iranian-American: “I agree with both of them … That’s a really hot topic for me, because before they went to war with Iraq, I was in New York City protesting. It was still one of my darkest times. I remember that experience. I was dating somebody from Iraq. And he also was telling me experiences from his family and in Iraq. So I knew the backstory, knew what’s going on in the Middle East. And I said, again, the United States [is] going into the Middle East and causing more problems. And so I was very much against it. So that’s an issue for me that [Biden] had voted for it. And there [were] a lot of people who were very much against it. And it was clear there was nothing in Iraq before they went into war.”


On the candidates’ different approaches to health care

Lindpaintner: “I have been a member of various organizations in favor of a single-payer health system since the ‘70s. I really think that’s where we need to be heading. I think that the way it’s being framed right now is difficult because I believe that the way Pete Buttigieg expresses his plan, which is ‘Medicare for All Who Want It’ and allow there to be a transition voluntarily based on offering something great and better, that is ideal.

“First of all, it’s not going to be about what they say on the campaign trail. It’s about what can you get done? I don’t believe we’re going to get done getting rid of the insurance industry. So I think we need a practical approach. And I’m very torn because my ideal would be going to a single-payer quite soon. But the person who says that on the campaign trail is not likely to be persuasive. That’s my opinion.”

Kashi: “I agree. I think it’s going to be very hard to succeed in doing that. So we need something a little bit more level headed and it needs to be a kind of a slow transition.”

Bernstein: “Yeah, I totally support ‘Medicare for All,’ but I support what Elizabeth Warren says and says she would sign any bill that would insure more uninsured Americans, and that’s really important.”


On how much electability matters

Bernstein: “First of all, I always have an issue with electability arguments. This happens every election and it always gets turned on its head. Currently, I think Warren and Sanders both have broad support, especially Sanders. He has a lot of support between independents and even some Republicans.”

Kashi: “I’m going to go with what Davis said. Exactly … Pete, I think he just started off. I mean, he’s just young. I don’t really know much about him … Biden, that’s a hard one. I mean, I think he’s done his time. There are some things he has in his history that I’m not all that happy about some of the choices he had made. So he’s definitely not in one of the ones I would choose as my top three … I’d say that anyone I’ve talked to in the Democrat side, nobody’s really excited about Biden.”

Lindpaintner: “I started out thinking Joe Biden would be the most electable. I no longer really think that. And when I weigh Elizabeth Warren versus Bernie Sanders, I kind of am not sure. I’m truly torn between those two options right now, because I can see Bernie winning. I think I might very well have voted for Bernie last time. I allowed myself to be persuaded that there wasn’t sufficient support for him. And I think that was a mistake.”


On Michael Bloomberg’s campaign

Bernstein: “I really don’t think it should be possible to buy your way into the primary. I also think he’s regretting not getting into New Hampshire and some of the other early states, as some reports have said. I don’t think you can put all of your eggs in California and Florida.”

Kashi: “I agree. I don’t really know much about him, to be honest. So I have a hard time going in and voting for somebody I’ve really not seen.”

Lindpaintner: “I kind of feel the same, although I do think he’s been a pretty good mayor and he’s got executive experience. He knows a lot about health care. So I’m not real negative on him, but I agree that the process hasn’t been very satisfactory.”


On whether they’re excited for the New Hampshire primary to come to a close

Lindpaintner: “It’s fun to be in the middle of it. I mean, it’ll be great to have there be some resolution, but this is a great time to live in New Hampshire.”

Kashi: “I agree. It’s been exciting. But I’ll be done with the 1-800 phone calls.”

Bernstein: “I mean, I’ve got to meet 20 candidates, but truthfully, I am so tired.”

Julia Corcoran produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Peter O’DowdAllison Hagan adapted it for the web. 

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

New Hampshire voters: Lyn Lindpaintner (left), Davis Bernstein (center) and Somayeh Kashi (right). (Here & Now)
New Hampshire voters: Lyn Lindpaintner (left), Davis Bernstein (center) and Somayeh Kashi (right). (Here & Now)

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