On the heels of Tuesday's delayed release of incomplete results from Iowa's Democratic presidential caucuses, Michael Bennet's campaign manager had a message for the rest of the primary field: the Colorado senator has them right where he wants them.
"While chaos emerged in Iowa last night, Michael was in New Hampshire holding a town hall and talking to voters," Daniel Barash said in a strategy memo obtained by Colorado Politics. "It goes without saying, the events of last night validated our New Hampshire-first approach."
Bennet finished next-to-last in the Iowa caucuses after the final round of voting, with just a single vote in his column — out of 108,500 reported statewide — behind nine other candidates, "uncommitted" and "other," according to partial, unofficial results posted late Tuesday by the state party.
But instead of courting supporters in Iowa or cursing the technical difficulties that delayed the count, Bennet was holding a town hall Monday night in New Hampshire, the state he's banking on to vault him into the top tier of White House hopefuls next week.
It's all going according to plan, to hear Bennet's campaign team tell it.
"The number of undecided voters at this time in the race is unprecedented, and voters are not convinced the leading candidates have what it takes to beat Trump," Barash said in Tuesday's memo.
"In short, the race is unsettled — even more so after the events of last night."
Bennet said in December he was putting all of his chips on New Hampshire's notoriously contrary voters, who have plucked presidential nominees from the back of the pack a few times over the decades.
Lagging the leading candidates in fundraising and in the polls, Bennet said he needs to be among the top three finishers in next Tuesday's presidential primary in order to continue his campaign.
Campaign spokeswoman Shannon Beckham said Tuesday that the strategy is working.
Bennet's campaign — "with a late start and scrappy organization" — has been based, she told Colorado Politics, on the premise "that one of the pundit-annointed frontrunners would underperform in Iowa, as Joe Biden has done, creating space for a lesser-known candidate to fill."
Added Beckham: “So far, so good. Now, it's up to New Hampshire.”
James Carville, the veteran Democratic strategist who steered Bill Clinton to come from behind with a stronger-than-expected finish in New Hampshire 28 years ago, endorsed Bennet last month. He appears in a campaign ad that was set to air in New Hampshire during President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night, Bennet's campaign said.
"He has less in common with Donald Trump than any human being on the planet when it comes to worldview, priorities, and demeanor," Carville said in a Bennet fundraising email. "Michael is the opposite of Trump and is the best Democrat to take him on."
Carville is scheduled to campaign with Bennet in New Hampshire on Saturday.