HAMPTON BEACH, N.H. – He’s already acknowledged he suffered a “gut punch” in Iowa.
Now, former Vice President Joe Biden’s admitting that the presidential campaigns of rivals Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg were “better organized than we were in Iowa.”
Biden finished a distant fourth in last Monday’s caucuses, which kicked off the presidential nominating calendar. Buttigieg and Sanders finished at 26 percent of delegates won in the caucuses, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 18 percent and Biden in fourth at 16 percent. The AP has yet to call a winner in the contest.
Biden admitted at a campaign event on Wednesday in Somersworth, New Hampshire, “I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We took a gut punch in Iowa.”
On Sunday, campaigning in this beachside community, Biden noted, “I congratulate Pete. I congratulate Bernie. They did a great job and they were really well organized, better organized than we were in Iowa.”
And, at the beginning of Friday night’s presidential debate, he seemed to downplay expectations in New Hampshire, which for a century has held the first primary in the White House race.
“I took a hit in Iowa and I’m probably going to take a hit here,” the former vice president emphasized as he seemingly downplayed expectations for his finish in Tuesday’s primary.
Biden’s comments came hours after top aides also seemed to minimize the importance of New Hampshire, highlighting in a statement, “the campaign has had a very clear strategy from the day we got into the race.”
Campaign officials added, “We have articulated that we believe for us the pathway to the nomination runs in particular through Nevada, South Carolina, Super Tuesday, through states that have a more diverse electorate, where Vice President Biden has a tremendous amount of support.”
When asked by Fox News on Saturday if he’s writing off New Hampshire, Biden pushed back, saying: “I’m not writing off New Hampshire. I’m going to campaign like hell here in New Hampshire, as I’m going to do in Nevada, in South Carolina and beyond. Look, this is just getting going here. This is a marathon.”
The latest polls in New Hampshire suggested Biden’s in third or fourth place – far behind Sanders and Buttigieg.
On Sunday, Biden stressed, “I’ve viewed from the beginning that you have to take the first four as one. You’ve got two primaries and two caucuses back to back, basically.”
The Biden campaign has long pointed to the more diverse electorates in Nevada and South Carolina and the March 3 Super Tuesday states – which follow New Hampshire in the nomination calendar – as states where Biden would excel.
Biden pointed to the African-American vote, saying, “Not a single person has won [the nomination] without overwhelming support from the black community, overwhelming, overwhelming. So. here’s the deal... right now I am far and ahead of everybody in the African-American community. It’s the base of the Democratic Party.”
Fox News' Madeleine Rivera in Hampton Beach, N.H., contributed to this report.