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Oct 21, 2015 9:41 PM

Steinhauser: If Biden had run, top NH supporter says 'prominent' endorsements would have followed

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD – A top Joe Biden supporter in New Hampshire says if the Vice President had launched a presidential campaign, endorsement announcements of “well-known prominent people” in the Granite State would have started rolling out.

But that will never happen, as the Vice President, flanked by his wife Jill and President Barack Obama as he stood in the Rose Garden at the White House on Wednesday, announced he would not make a third presidential bid.

“Unfortunately I believe we're out of time, time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination,” Biden said.

State Rep. Dan Eaton, a longtime Biden supporter who for the past two months has served as New Hampshire state director for the independent group Draft Biden, said “we had a full organization ready to go. We had volunteers ready to go.”

“We had political supporters that we were going to do announcements with, of well-known prominent people throughout the political process of New Hampshire. So we were ready to go full-bore, a turnkey operation,” Eaton told NH1 News.

Eaton added that he was “shocked by the announcement. We had a nationwide conference call on Monday and at least the inside information that I had and that a couple of others had, we were very upbeat. We did expect an announcement. We thought it would be imminent. But we thought it would be a very different announcement.”

Eaton said that he and others in the Draft Biden movement will need some time before they’re ready to move on.

“I think appropriately, because there had been a lot of adrenaline in this campaign, and it was a unique campaign in history, that everybody’s going to go through an appropriate mourning process, and then reevaluate where they are at and what they want to do, whether they’re going to join one of the other campaigns or whether they will sit out until the primary process is over,” said Eaton, who was a Granite State co-chair for then-Sen. Biden of Delaware’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“I’m absolutely going to take some time,” Eaton added.

Longtime Biden friends, advisors say ‘it was painful’ to watch

John Broderick may feel a bit relieved.

The former chief justice of the New Hampshire state supreme court told NH1 News “I think for himself and his family he made the right call. My sense is his head wanted to do it by his heart wasn’t there. And that’s who is he. He cares a lot about his family.”

“It was painful and hard to watch. I think he very much wanted to run,” added Broderick.

Family was a major factor in Biden’s decision. The Vice President’s eldest son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, died of cancer in May at age 46.

Biden said Wednesday that “I also know that I couldn’t do this if the family wasn’t ready.”

He went on to say that “the family and I have worked through the grieving process,” but he concluded that “the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president” had closed.

As for what’s next, Broderick said “I will support Hillary Clinton fully. I think the world of the Clintons. I co-chaired President Bill Clinton’s campaign in New Hampshire in 1992.”

Another longtime Biden confidant, Boston based public policy and media relations executive Larry Rasky, told NH1 News that the Vice President “wasn’t ready to expose everybody to what the campaign would bring.”

Rasky, who was a top advisor in Biden’s 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns who was part of the inner political circle laying the groundwork the past couple of months for a possible 2016 candidacy by the Vice President, said “the unfortunate thing is politically, the opportunity is still there, but he’s (Biden) not going to be the guy to make that case.”

Asked how he and others in the inner circle were feeling, Rasky said “we’re just sad for him. I think that’s the general feeling, because we know how hard this decision has been for him.”

“It’s a sad day, because we know he still has so much left to contribute. But those contributions will take another form,” he added.

Watch: Where will Biden supporters go?

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley told NH1 News that “I first met him (Biden) back in 1978. He would have been a terrific president. I think the country’s lesser because he never did serve as president but I expect that he’s going to have a lot to say and a lot to do for decades to come.”

Asked what Biden’s decision means for the Democratic presidential field, Buckley said “I think that it brings focus on all of the candidates that are running”

Buckley wouldn’t weigh in on whether Biden’s announcement would favor Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton over her main opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

But he did say that “I think it gives an opportunity for all the candidates to shine. It gives an opportunity for Gov. Martin O’Malley. In fact I heard from one of his folks earlier today that they’re now going to start contacting all the people who had said ‘well we’re going to wait and see what Biden’s going to do.’ So it could be a lift for any one of the candidates and that’s what makes the New Hampshire presidential primary so exciting. Anything can happen between now and February 9.”

State Sen. Andrew Hosmer did weigh in, saying “I think his support in this state is most likely to break towards Secretary Clinton. I think the profile of a typical Biden supporter more closely aligns with Secretary Clinton as opposed to Sen. Sanders.”

As for Biden’s announcement, Hosmer said “I think with the Vice President’s comments today we’ve seen the depth of his character. He’s a consummate public servant who has put aside some of his personal ambitions for the good of his family and maybe for the party as a whole.”

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