Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s New Hampshire team served refreshments at the Keene Public Library Monday evening to build out the campaign’s group of volunteers ahead of the former vice president’s Elm City visit later this month.
During the cozy gathering in the second-floor trustees room, organizers chatted with community members about the campaign, asking for their help knocking on doors and phone banking.
Frank Dobisky, treasurer of the Cheshire County Democrats, said he was there to get a feel for the Biden operation, but is still shopping around for his preferred candidate.
Dobisky, a Keene resident and sales manager for Thomas Charters, said he admires Biden for his “steady hand” amid crises, and hopes the former VP and U.S. senator could unite the country and console the nation through hardships.
Bill Hay — a local tennis instructor who said he has been high on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign so far because of its attention to policy detail and organizing in New Hampshire — added that Biden has “blue-collar credibility” that could ensure an electoral college victory over President Donald Trump in Midwestern states.
Hay, however, said he likes too many of the candidates in the field so far, and needs the field to shrink before making a decision on whom to support.
“I go to some of these things to rule someone out,” he said.
Both Hay and Dobisky said they will hold off on phone banking, volunteering and donating to any campaign until a smaller field emerges in the fall, when they can assess who will be able to make it to the general election.
Margaret Sawyer, a Keene retiree, said she would potentially phone bank for Biden but ruled out going door to door.
“I figure if I phone bank, it’s two hours, and I’m done,” she said. “... If I’m walking around, it could get into hours, and I really don’t have that.”
Sawyer said she has nothing against Biden, but that newly announced Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer has caught her attention because of his philanthropic efforts to improve the environment and voting laws.
The intimate atmosphere of the trustees room allowed voters to pick the ear of Biden staffers like Jake Blaut, an organizer based in Peterborough.
Blaut was not authorized to take questions from the press, but made his way around the room talking to voters about why he believes in Biden and how they can help out locally as the campaign progresses.
Dobisky said the cordiality of the evening was on brand for the Biden campaign, recalling when he met the then-Delaware senator in 1987 during his first presidential run.
“He answered all of our questions for about two hours,” he said of Biden. “I walked away saying, ‘I know this guy.’ “
Biden is scheduled to come to Keene on Aug. 23 or 24, with the campaign set to announce a venue and time later this month.