Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's front-running juggernaut campaign hit some big-time potholes in New Hampshire.
On Tuesday, his campaign committed truly incompetent errors when environmental activist groups revealed that Biden's team had lifted whole passages of past advocacy without attribution, making it part of his 22-page outline for climate change reform.
The tweets and other charges on social media were so rampant the campaign quietly changed its report Tuesday afternoon to attribute these comments in the report and only copped to that after several media outlets demanded an explanation.
"Several citations, some from sources cited in other parts of the plan, were inadvertently left out of the final version of the 22-page document,” the campaign said in its mea culpa. "As soon as we were made aware of it, we updated to include the proper citations."
All of this would matter a whole lot less if Biden's first campaign for the White House in 1988 had not been sabotaged by his own acts of plagiarism; they included quoting without credit British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock, among others.
President Trump himself couldn't resist tweeting about the controversy while on his United Kingdom tour early Wednesday morning.
"Plagiarism charge against Sleepy Joe Biden on his ridiculous Climate Change Plan is a big problem, but the Corrupt Media will save him," Trump said.
While many Democratic rivals have been reluctant to call out Biden even on policy differences on issues, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wasn't shy Tuesday.
That's no surprise since Inslee has made climate change the centerpiece of his campaign and offered the most ambitious proposals on that front.
"I was pleased that Vice President Biden issued a plan today. I think it's great to see anybody's ideas, but I have to express disappointment that the vice president's proposals really lacked teeth and they lack ambition that is necessary to defeat the climate crisis. This is our last chance. We don't have thirty years to get this job done. We've got to start acting now," Inslee said.
"So my plan puts up stop signs, and I'm afraid that the vice president's plan does not. He has some wishes for thirty years from now, but we can't wait thirty years. So I just believe we have to have a President who will look the CEOs in the eye of the oil and gas industry, here, and the coal industry and say, 'We need to stand down. We need to put the interests of these kids who have asthma ahead of these corporate profits.' We need a President who is willing to do that. I am willing to do that."
Then just as Biden was departing New Hampshire for a retail stop and two fund-raisers in Boston last Friday, his campaign confirmed to NBC News that Biden still supported the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortions.
A volunteer with the ACLU in South Carolina last month had asked Biden about it on camera and in that video Biden sounded like he favored repeal of the amendment he had supported throughout his career in Congress.
A Biden campaign aide said the candidate misunderstood that question and he favors the amendment.
The national Democratic Party platform calls for its repeal and many 2020 rivals have already offered proposals on reproductive rights that call for doing away with it.
Biden left a retail stop at the Chez Vachon Restaurant on Manchester's West Side Wednesday morning without taking questions about the controversy.
Abortion rights organizations greeted the news with disgust, the National Abortion Rights Action League Ilyse Hogue writing, "That position is unjust and discriminatory and endangers women and families."
Adam Green with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has heaped praise on rival Elizabeth Warren, said the flap reveals why his liberal group views Biden as the "least electable candidate running" among the two dozen Democrats.
While campaigning in Elkhardt, Ind., Warren took her own shot.
"I'm out there fighting against the Hyde Amendment," Warren told reporters.
Meanwhile, the anti-abortion Americans United for Life praised Biden for maintaining his principled position.
"As a pro-life Democrat, I applaud former Vice President Biden for his continuing support of the Hyde Amendment, which ensures that American taxpayer dollars do not fund optional, elective abortions," said Tom Shakley, chief engagement officer.
"It should not be a controversial stance to oppose public funding of optional procedures, and in fact it should be a common American value that, because abortion is always the deliberate, intentional, and forcible ending of a human life, it should be unthinkable. However, in today's partisan and polarized climate, we're grateful for Mr. Biden's continuing support of the Hyde Amendment, even as we express skepticism of his ability to maintain this position in the face of his radical and extremist fellow contenders in the Democratic presidential race."
Despite losses, Biden puts faith in NH
During an interview in Berlin, Biden said he's confident he'll win over voters in the first-in-the-nation primary state despite his disastrous performances in 1988 and 2008, the only two times he ran for President on his own.
Biden of course won New Hampshire's four electoral votes twice as Barack Obama's vice presidential running mate in 2008 and 2012.
"The truth is I never got to New Hampshire," Biden said alluding to his past defeats.
"I really like New Hampshire, the people are real and it reminds me of my state, though Delaware is more diverse. The plain fact is New Hampshire voters are extremely well-informed. It fascinates me and makes campaigning up here really exciting."
Biden said while he supports repeal of the Trump tax cuts, he will offer a plan to deliver tax cuts for working families. They will be paid for in part by raising the corporate tax rates, which Biden said Trump lowered too much, leading to record federal debt.
"A lot of very wealthy people know they don't need that tax cut," Biden said.
He warned if Trump gets reelected he'll pursue cuts to Social Security and Medicare in order to reduce the $17 trillion debt.
"Mark my words; that's where he would go, attacking the safety net," Biden said.
Another NH House special election on the way
A second House Republican has stepped down and this vacancy could touch off a very crowded primary.
One-term state Rep. Mike Trento, R-Bedford, recently resigned, having taking a job outside of New Hampshire.
Gov. Chris Sununu certainly could have used Trento being around late last month.
Among the votes he missed was one repealing the death penalty; the governor lost that May 23 override fight by a single vote.
Once the town requests filling the vacancy and the Executive Council schedules the election, there could be many Republicans coming out of the woodwork for it.
Among those who could take a look at it include former Reps. Keith Murphy, Bart Fromuth and Terry Wolf.
Others who might give it a go include School Board member and ex-town councilor John Schneller.
While the GOP would be favored ordinarily in this rock-ribbed town, don't forget that longtime school official Sue Mullen topped the ticket for Bedford Democrats last November.
Williamson laments DNC debate hurdles
California author and educator Marianne Williamson insists that even though the Democratic National Committee recently doubled the benchmarks for candidates to qualify for the third debate this September, she'll clear that hurdle.
But she doesn't have to like it.
While she's failed to poll very well nationally, Williamson has created a national fundraising buzz that allowed her to reach the threshold of 65,000 donors to qualify for the first two debates coming up this month and next.
But the DNC raised the bar for next round.
They make all candidates both achieve 130,000 donors and get at least 2 percent in four major polls this summer in order to get on stage this fall.
"It creates ambivalence among the Democratic voters," Williamson said.
"I've always thought the Republicans have the more elitist policies but a more egalitarian relationship with their constituencies and the Democrats clearly have the more egalitarian policies but often a more elitist relationship with our own constituencies," Williamson said during an interview.
"Whatever happened to the big tent?"
Epping selectman in the NH House hunt
Cody Belanger, 25, confirmed that once the Executive Council sets a special election for an open seat in his town, he's seeking the GOP nomination.
Belanger made the announcement on his 25th birthday and confirmed if there is a GOP primary to replace the resigned Rep. Sean Morrison, Belanger will step down from his post as an area vice chairman for the Republican State Committee.
"I have decided to run because I have heard the over 300 parents who do not want competency-based education in our schools. I have heard from the residents who are both for - and against - the Natural Gas Storage tank. It is not just about the behemoth project and the tax benefits it can bring to Epping; it's about hearing the concerns of folks on both sides of the issue," Belanger said.
"And lastly, as one of your selectmen I know first-hand the issues that are forthcoming with our water and sewer systems. I will work to bridge the divide between state and local officials on these matters."
Belanger works for a contractor that provides supervised visits between parents and children for the Division of Children, Youth and Families.
Former Republican Rep. Mike Vose is also expected to run and there's talk that a third GOP candidate could get into the hunt.
No Democratic activist has yet stepped forward in this district but word has it more than one is actively looking at it.
Education funding issue just climbed to the top of the heap
A 98-page ruling from a Cheshire County Superior Court judge is sure to spark even more debate on education aid when it comes to bringing to a close the debate over the next two-year state budget.
To be sure, the state would likely appeal the ruling, which has judged the level of education aid currently to be "clearly or demonstratively inadequate" according to New Hampshire's own definition of an adequate education.
But the strong rhetoric strengthens the hand of Democratic legislative leaders in both the House and Senate who will argue to Sununu that any final spending plan must make permanent and not temporary changes to the education aid formula.
Kuster, Hassan head for Normandy, Shaheen for Rye
U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Annie Kuster, both D-NH, are among a congressional delegation of 80 members who took a late-night flight Wednesday so they could be on hand for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy.
Kuster's father, the late executive councilor and Concord mayor Malcolm McLane, had flown a patrol over the beaches on D-Day and got a Purple Heart for his WWII service that included serving six months in a German prisoner of war camp.
"I'm humbled to have the opportunity to honor the courage, patriotism and selflessness of my father and hundreds of thousands of other Allied soldiers who risked and gave their lives on D-Day in the defense of freedom," Kuster said. "Our nation, Europe, and indeed the entire world, remain indebted to these brave individuals. We are forever grateful to them and all the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces."
Kuster has been pushing for recognition of the "Ghost Army" that deceived German military units throughout the liberation of Europe.
A member of the Senate homeland security committee, Hassan said she was honored to make the trip.
"There are few more powerful reminders of the loss of war – as well as the bravery and sacrifices of our armed forces – than what transpired on D-Day. I am profoundly grateful to all who served that day, and in all the days before and since, so that the rest of us could live in peace, prosperity, and freedom," Hassan said.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, also D-NH, will take part in a climate change event at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye Thursday afternoon.
She's pursuing legislation to prevent Trump from using money to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.
Gillibrand's campaign will hit NH visit mark
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will mark another milestone for her campaign when she visits over 20 cities and towns here during her seventh NH trip, which starts a week from Friday.
"Senator Gillibrand is committed to meeting the people of New Hampshire exactly where they are; in red places, purple places and blue places. We're proud to have reached this marker and look forward to visiting even more communities across the state as our campaign continues to grow," said NH State Director Shannon MacLeod.
Rep. Sue Ford, D-Easton, was the first state lawmaker to endorse her.
"Senator Gillibrand was the first presidential candidate to visit the North Country and she did so on her first visit to the state. That commitment to traveling across the state to different places to meet with voters matters, and people are taking note," Ford said.
Booker says housing plan helps 82,000 families
Cory Booker offered an affordable housing plan that would contain a refundable renters credit to those spending more than 30 percent of their before-tax income on housing. Given NH's high rents, a Columbia University study found this credit would benefit 82,000 families and 162,000 members for a median credit worth $4,000 per family.
"Manchester residents deserve leaders like Cory Booker who will fight for our communities. Cory's housing plan will improve the lives of thousands of Granite Staters, both here in Manchester and beyond. This is the kind of policy, and the kind of leadership, our city and country deserves," said state Rep. Pat Long, D-Manchester.
Sen. Kevin Cavanaugh, D-Manchester, praised it as well.
"I'm thankful that Cory has put forward such an important, thoughtful policy," Cavanaugh said in a statement.