Feb. 6--SOMERSWORTH, N.H. -- Joe Biden is on the ropes in New Hampshire after a "gut punch" of a likely fourth-place finish in Iowa, lashing out at his leading rivals while attempting to allay voters' fears of a repeat performance in the first-in-the-nation primary.
"I am not going to sugarcoat it: We took a gut punch in Iowa. The whole process took a gut punch," Biden told a small crowd Wednesday in Somersworth, N.H. "But this is not the first time I have been knocked down."
The former vice president trailed Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders by a sizable margin in Iowa with 86% of precincts reporting Wednesday afternoon, the results delayed after issues with a mobile app threw Monday night's caucuses into chaos. The former mayor of South Bend, Ind., led with 26.7%, followed by the Vermont senator with 25.4%, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 18.3% and Biden with 15.9%
"I am going to fight for this nomination," an unusually fiery Biden told voters Wednesday.
"I know there are an awful lot of folks out there who are writing off this campaign," he said. "Well, I've got news for you: I'm not going anywhere."
Biden delivered some of his sharpest criticism yet of Sanders and Buttigieg -- jabbing at their electability even as his own is being called into question in his third bid for the Democratic nomination.
Biden warned handing "democratic socialist" Sanders the nomination could leave the entire party vulnerable to attack.
"Donald Trump is desperate to pin the label of 'socialist' on our party," he said.
Biden slammed Buttigieg for calling him "part of the old, failed Washington. Well, really? Was it a failure that I went to Congress to get Obamacare passed?" He called it a "risk" for Democrats "to nominate someone who's never held an office higher than the mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana."
Biden's show of force reassured some. But University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala said, "When you're attacking, you're losing."
Voters on Wednesday also questioned Biden's commitment to the Granite State.
Portsmouth, N.H., Democrat Jeff Stern said he's been deluged by canvassers -- but not for Biden.
"I don't see as much of a ground game that some of the other candidates have," Stern said. "I want to support him. I feel like he has the best chance of beating Trump. But Iowa was disappointing."
Stratham, N.H., Democrat Kerri Vivathana said, "It kind of feels like Biden is writing off New Hampshire. He needs to be meeting with New Hampshire people a lot more than he is."
But Edward Kelly, general secretary-treasurer of the International Association of Fire Fighters backing Biden, insisted, "As more people get to know and see Joe Biden in New Hampshire, the stronger finish is going to happen."
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