They’ve Both ‘Won Every Race’ So Far, and Want a Win in New Hampshire

HANOVER, N.H. — There is some disagreement on whether the post-debate glow of Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota should be called “Klomentum” or a “Klobucharge,” but whatever the terminology — she had it Saturday afternoon.

On the Democratic debate stage the previous evening, Ms. Klobuchar had made a pitch for herself as a “fresh face” and had criticized former Mayor Pete Buttigieg as a “cool newcomer.”

She had also enjoyed herself.

“We had so much fun at that debate last night,” she said. “I felt I had a home-field advantage because it was in an ice arena.”

That was a rosier post-debate analysis than her rival Senator Elizabeth Warren offered of her own performance, where one of her most memorable lines — “we cannot just say criminal justice is the only time we want to talk about race” — didn’t come until later in the evening.

In a post-debate interview, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell asked her whether there was anything she wished she had said.

“I just didn’t say enough, didn’t fight hard enough, didn’t tell you how bad I want this and how good we could make it if we just come together,” Ms. Warren responded, in a moment of introspection.

While a diminished former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who finished fourth in Iowa, entered Friday’s debate under the most scrutiny, both Ms. Warren and Ms. Klobuchar also arrived facing significant pressure.

Ms. Klobuchar’s fifth-place finish in Iowa left her surprisingly close to Mr. Biden, but that story line was all but swallowed by the inability of Iowa Democrats to actually tally the vote. Ms. Warren’s third-place showing was a disappointment for a candidate who was once a front-runner there with a political organization that was the envy of the field.

The debate was a final chance to reach a large audience before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, where both women are looking to surpass expectations and break into a political conversation at risk of becoming dominated by the men in the race. It was also an opportunity to draw contrasts with other Democrats, especially their shared political rival in Mr. Buttigieg, who has surged in the early-voting states by occupying lanes that both Ms. Klobuchar and Ms. Warren once hoped would be theirs.

Gerrie and Barry Rock, a couple who saw Ms. Klobuchar speak in Durham, N.H., said they were torn between other moderate candidates such as Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Biden before the recent debate, but that Ms. Klobuchar’s performance had swayed them.

Mr. Rock said that Mr. Biden was “a little older than I’d like to see” and Ms. Rock said she liked that Ms. Klobuchar “has a little more behind her than he does,” alluding to Mr. Buttigieg’s lack of political experience.

“I was flickering but now I’m there,” Ms. Rock added.

Ms. Warren is seeking do better than her third-place standing in Iowa, helping create momentum for later states and supplant Mr. Buttigieg as the candidate pitching “unity” to a frightened Democratic electorate.

Some of Ms. Klobuchar’s supporters quietly dream of a top-four finish, possibly besting Ms. Warren or Mr. Biden. But her campaign has claimed success at previous debates, and has yet to see that confidence translate to a significant bump in polling.

“I know we’re not the candidate that’s No. 1 right now but we’re surging,” she told a cheering crowd at Dartmouth College. “I have won every race, every place and every time.”

That argument — winning in every place, every time — is one that both Ms. Warren and Ms. Klobuchar have made, emphasizing and elevating each other’s electoral successes on the debate stage. Often, this was explicitly or implicitly in response to the subject of electability and whether a woman could win the White House, which came up frequently with the historically large number of women in the 2020 field.

Throughout last year, Ms. Warren rose in polls as the primary focused on policy and ideology, and voters seemed to embrace her plan-focused progressive candidacy. As the contest has shifted, and all candidates have started to focus less on policy and more on how they will beat President Trump, Ms. Warren has seen her standing fall among primary voters in national and state surveys.

That polling picture heightened the stakes Friday evening, and some Warren allies were disappointed with a relatively flat performance at so crucial a juncture.

But the Working Families Party, the progressive group that has endorsed Ms. Warren, sent an email Saturday noting that Ms. Warren had “absolutely killed it” at the debate, despite getting “20 percent less speaking time than the leading male candidates onstage — including Joe Biden,” whom, it noted, she defeated in Iowa.

During the debate, the Warren campaign said it had “the most donations processing simultaneously” than it had ever had, though it declined to release any actual fund-raising figures.

The Klobuchar campaign also trumpeted its fund-raising numbers: $2 million by 1 p.m. on Saturday. That announcement meant that she had accounted for a sizable share — nearly one-third — of all the online Democratic fund-raising since the debate began, according to an online ticker maintained by ActBlue, the party’s online donation-processing platform.

Other signs of “Klomentum” — in addition to the term itself — were apparent at Ms. Klobuchar’s events Saturday.

Ms. Klobuchar packed a room at Dartmouth College, with more than 200 people in attendance. Her campaign team had to turn away some residents for an earlier event in Durham, after police officials said it had reached capacity.

In a photo line, people repeatedly thanked her for her commanding debate performance, highlighting Mr. Buttigieg’s political inexperience and defending, by name, New Hampshire’s two senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, who voted for the recent trade agreement signed by Mr. Trump. Staff members handed out copies of newspaper editorials endorsing Ms. Klobuchar, hailing her winning record in Minnesota.

Ms. Klobuchar said her willingness to directly chide opponents onstage is a sign of her ability to take on the president.

“I don’t agree with everything that’s said on that debate stage,” Ms. Klobuchar said Saturday. “When they asked should a socialist lead the ticket, I raised my hand and said ‘no.’ ”

On Saturday afternoon, Ms. Warren held a brief motivational rally for hundreds of supporters, including people who came from out of state to help get out the vote, and she also addressed her ability to defeat Mr. Trump.

“Here’s the thing: There’s still a lot of folks out there who are really starting to get worried,” she said. “Worried this fight against Donald Trump may not be winnable. The way I look at this, I’ve been winning unwinnable fights pretty much all my life.”

Lizzie Williamson, a 31-year-old who drove up from North Easton, Mass., to knock on doors for Ms. Warren, had watched the debate and was frustrated with how little speaking time Ms. Warren received. (She had the fifth highest speaking time on Friday — ahead of just Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang — according to The New York Times’s analysis.)

“I thought she was fantastic but she talked the same amount as Steyer,” Ms. Williamson said. “Why?”

After the event, Ms. Warren spent part of Saturday afternoon knocking on doors in a Manchester neighborhood, holding hands with her husband, Bruce Mann, as they canvassed for votes with their dog, Bailey.

“I thought it went well,” Ms. Warren said of the debate. “It was a good debate. Good debate. A lot of back and forth. But you know still. I got to cover issues I care about. Obviously, there’s more I would have liked to have talked about.”

Could she have spoken more?

“I had my hand up a lot,” she said. “But, you know, I know all the candidates want more airtime.”

Jonathan Martin contributed reporting from Durham.

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