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New Hampshire- First State in US Will Vote to Choose Democratic Nominee

“We need a president who will stand up for what’s right, and do what’s right, and restore that moral fabric that’s been lost under this administration,” she said

presidential elections, new hampshire
New Hampshire is the first state in the U.S. to hold its primary for presidential elections. VOA

For many across the country, the 2020 presidential campaign is still a distant thought, even while 18 Democrats have signaled their candidacy.

But in New Hampshire, home of the first-in-the-nation primary, residents say they’re excited to participate in what they call their state sport: politics.

“It’s not early to be campaigning,” Danny Arnold, a Dover, New Hampshire, resident, said while waiting for New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to speak at a local coffee shop.

“I want to hear all the candidates before I make any decisions on who I’m going to vote for,” he added.

Never too early

And given the large field vying for the nomination to unseat President Donald Trump, neither New Hampshire residents nor the candidates think it’s ever too early to begin campaigning in the key state. In fact, former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, the first Democrat to declare his candidacy, began visiting New Hampshire in 2017.

During the past weekend, three 2020 hopefuls — Gillibrand, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, held town halls, meet and greets, and house parties across the state. Because New Hampshire holds the first primary in U.S. presidential elections, voters here play a unique role in helping to shape the course of presidential elections.

new hampshire, presidential elections
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is one of several Democrats vying for the nomination to unseat President Donald Trump. VOA

And that role is not a responsibility voters take lightly.

“I really think people take that responsibility very seriously to try and make sure they’re as well-informed as possible and make the right decision,” said Seth Facey, a high school student in Amherst who will be voting in a presidential election for the first time next fall.

Dozens of New Hampshire residents devoted their entire Saturdays to attending multiple events — as many as three in one day — to try to hear and form opinions on every candidate who comes to speak.

The high level of political activity in April 2019, roughly 10 months before the New Hampshire primary, is only unusual because of the large number of candidates running to be the Democratic nominee, according to Neil Levesque, a political scientist at St. Anselm College.

“What it is, is that we have so many candidates so early,” Levesque told VOA. “So, there is a tremendous amount of activity. New Hampshire voters are enjoying it. They’re going out. And like you said, on any given weekend, you can see that their schedules (are) for three or four or five candidates in New Hampshire.”

Who’s leading now?

While analysts say it is far too soon to declare a front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont are leading the pack in the early going, with each capturing roughly a quarter of the vote, according to RealClear Politics averages of recent polls. Senators Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas are also attracting interest, according to polling.

Of the 18 Democrats who have officially declared their candidacy or formed a presidential exploratory committee, six are U.S. senators, three are House members, one is a governor and one is a former governor. And in this wide field, candidates are working hard to distinguish themselves from one another.

“My story is very different. I come from a rural part of New York state. My first house district was a two-to-one Republican district. I won that district twice,” Gillibrand told VOA.

Gillibrand, who spoke with voters in Dover and Concord, New Hampshire, during the weekend, boasts that she has voted against more of Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees than any other senator, claiming that her “bravery” is what is required to defeat Trump in the general elections next November.

“We need a president who will stand up for what’s right, and do what’s right, and restore that moral fabric that’s been lost under this administration,” she said.

Candidates stress uniqueness

Booker, her fellow senator from the neighboring state of New Jersey, said his experience as a mayor of a large city, Newark, New Jersey, makes him a unique candidate.

2020 presidential elections, new hampshire
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey takes selfies with voters at a New Hampshire house party. VOA

“I don’t know of anybody who has run a large city and succeeded in creating its biggest economic resurgence in 60 years,” he said, speaking after a house party for his campaign hosted by New Hampshire state Sen. Shannon Chandley.

“But then, I’ve also been a United States senator and got a lot of significant pieces of legislation done, as well as a lot of legislation reforming our nuclear regulatory laws, all the way to dealing with issues of racial disparities in our country,” Booker added.

Of course, Booker is not the only candidate drawing on his mayoral experience.

Buttigieg, mayor of a city of just more than 100,000 people, is 37 years old. But he argues that his executive experience as mayor rivals that of his fellow candidates. 

Buttigieg or Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard, who is also 37, would be the youngest president in U.S. history if elected.

“I think that we certainly represent something that is not like the others,” Buttigieg told reporters after an event at the Currier Museum in Manchester, New Hampshire, from which nearly 200 people were turned away as the room reached capacity.

Thirty-seven-year-old Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, would be the youngest American president in history if elected. VOA

“You can see the energy from people of all generations around the idea of a campaign that’s focused on the future,” he added.

Right behind Biden in early New Hampshire polls is Sanders, who won the New Hampshire primary in 2016, though he ultimately lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton.

Sanders is likely to do well in New Hampshire, drawing on his popularity from the previous election and his far-left stances often qualified as Democratic Socialism.

But among so many choices, Democrat voters are primarily concerned with one question: Which candidate has what it takes to beat Trump.

ALSO READ: Trump Considers Sending Detained Illegal Migrants to Sanctuary Cities

“Trump is a force to be reckoned with,” Levesque said, noting that in 2016, Trump competed with 14 “top name” Republicans and defeated them all.

“And so, Democrats really have to be looking at who can beat Donald Trump in a general election. (VOA)

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Play of Vote Bank Politics on India’s Domestic Scene Apparently On

They did not question India's consistent position that J&K was an integral part of India

Vote, Politics, India
The US, Russia, France and many other countries confined themselves to counselling India and Pakistan to reduce tension and sort out any issue relating to Kashmir through bilateral dialogue. Pixabay

The abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A by the two Houses of Parliament of India with a two-third majority, led to sharp criticism from the principal domestic opposition in India, a predictable denunciation from Pakistan and a range of responses — from an expression of understanding of India’s case to a positive support of the move — from the international community. The US, Russia, France and many other countries confined themselves to counselling India and Pakistan to reduce tension and sort out any issue relating to Kashmir through bilateral dialogue. They did not question India’s consistent position that J&K was an integral part of India and that the trouble in the state was caused by Pak-sponsored cross border terrorism. J&K housed many religions and cultural traditions and the dispute about it was territorial in the sense that a part of the state — as pointed out by India — was in adverse possession of Pakistan symbolised by the LoC. It was not a ‘Muslim issue’ even though the state had a Muslim majority — the reality lying in the finality of accession of J&K into India accepted by Maharaja Hari Singh the then ruler of the princely state, in October 1948. Vote

It is Pakistan that has taken a communal line on Kashmir, created a separatist lobby in the name of Hurriyat in the Valley led by the Jamaat supremo Syed Ali Shah Gilani to build pro-Pak opinion amongst the Muslims there and gradually established a large network of agents to cause civil disturbances as a way of protesting against the presence of security forces of the Centre. In a carefully crafted strategy, Pak ISI first destabilised the border state of Punjab by sponsoring the Khalistan movement and then — finding that attempt failing to achieve its objective by the end of the Eighties — added on the separatist campaign in Kashmir to its plan. In the early Nineties, it embarked on a replication of Afghan Jehad in Kashmir by pumping in battle hardened Mujahideen across the LoC.

The first group of terrorists sent in belonged to Harkat-ul-Ansar comprising the Taliban and Jaish-e-Mohammad elements and soon Lashkar-e-Toiba — Saudi funded Jehadis who had been on the forefront of anti-Soviet armed campaign in Afghanistan — came on the scene in the Valley to subdue the Kashmiriyat and spread Salafi extremism there. The Jamaatis were directed to take orders from them. The biggest misfortune of the Kashmiris was that the political leaders of the Valley, who governed them over these two decades through the democratic process, became a captive of the pro-Pak separatists just for gaining a political advantage. They continued with the practice of non-Muslims of J&K being deprived of basic human rights of equality and employment and connived with the communal plan of Pak ISI to cleanse the Valley of Kashmiri Pandits through violent means. India has taken the right step of providing for a new governance that will eradicate the internal contradictions in the state and ensure better development and protection for all citizens of this border state.

Pakistan being in no position to directly confront India is knocking at the door of its only ‘all weather friend’ China and hoping to rake up the matter of Kashmir at UN, International Court of Justice (ICJ) or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). India has stuck to the stand that ‘talks and terror could not go together’ and explained it to all that the governance of J&K had been taken over by the Centre only to give a better deal to the law abiding Kashmiris. Stern steps to neutralise the mischief of Pak agents in the state were a necessary preemptive measure against the designs of a hostile neighbour. India is successfully holding out on Kashmir before the world community that was already distrustful of Pakistan — on the issue of that country providing safe haven to Islamic militants across the spectrum on its soil. Till recently President Donald Trump of the US himself was denouncing the Pak regime upfront on this issue and chastising it for playing a duplicitous role in the US-led ‘war on terror’ against the Islamic radicals of Al Qaeda-Taliban combine as well as the ISIS.

Vote, Politics, India
The abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A by the two Houses of Parliament of India with a two-third majority, led to sharp criticism from the principal domestic opposition in India, a predictable denunciation from Pakistan. Pixabay

It comes as a curious surprise to Indians that President Trump has made some comments somewhat at the cost of India on the present situation in Kashmir — even though these seemed to have been driven primarily by his keenness to keep Pakistan on his side in the context of the ongoing developments in Afghanistan. Referring to the telephonic talks Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan had with him in the wake of the abolition of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution by the Indian Parliament, he stated that ‘it is a very explosive situation’ in Kashmir, ruled that it was all because of the conflict between Hindus and Muslims there and went on to say that religion was ‘the main reason for the uneasy ties between India and Pakistan’.

He reiterated his offer to mediate on Kashmir — Pak Prime Minister Imran Khan had already urged Trump to step in during his first meeting with the US President at Washington recently. Trump, it may be noted, had positively responded to what Prime Minister Modi had told him, by revealing that he had advised Pakistan to ‘moderate its rhetoric with India on Kashmir’. His subsequent reference to Hindu-Muslim conflict in J&K is somewhat raw since this integral state had been democratically governed for long by a leadership that was chosen through adult franchise. The leaders of Valley parties, in fact, always tilted towards the predominantly Muslim inhabited Valley to the neglect of non-Muslim regions. The US President implicitly put himself on the side of Pakistan which had projected the action of India in Kashmir as an anti-Muslim move.

The strategic analysts advising President Trump perhaps overlooked the fact that injecting a Hindu-Muslim narrative on Kashmir would bring back for India the historical memory of how the country was divided on religious lines in 1947 with disastrous results and how India could never permit a communally oriented debate on Kashmir. The democratic republic of India cannot allow Pakistan, an Islamic state, to play with any section of the Muslim population in this country. It is a matter of regret that the principal opposition in India has also criticised the new declaration of Indian Parliament regarding Kashmir as a move against Muslims of that state. The play of vote bank politics on India’s domestic scene apparently is on.

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The comments of President Trump painting India and Pakistan with the same brush, however, need not upset India since these could be seen in the context of his current preoccupation with Afghanistan. Trump has said that the US was fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan despite being 7,000 miles away while India and Pakistan were not doing so ‘even after being next door’. We should use the opportunity of working with US, Russia and others towards a democratic outcome in Afghanistan. The US President has a visceral dislike of Islamic extremism and faith-based terrorism arising from the Pak-Afghan belt. India should, therefore, continue to build convergence with US against this common threat. (IANS)