Kamala Harris closes campaign offices and fires staff in New Hampshire

CNN's Kyung Lah takes a look at Sen. Kamala Harris' political career.

Posted: Nov 2, 2019 2:00 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2019 2:00 PM

Sen. Kamala Harris is closing three of her four presidential campaign offices in New Hampshire and has fired all her field organizers in the state as she homes in on her struggling campaign in Iowa, an aide tells CNN.

The California Democrat is closing her offices in Nashua, Portsmouth and Keene. Her Manchester headquarters will remain open, but the staff will be scaled back significantly, with only volunteers left to knock on doors and pass out literature.

"Senator Harris and this team set out with one goal -- to win the nomination and defeat Donald Trump in 2020. To do so, the campaign has made a strategic decision to realign resources to go all-in on Iowa, resulting in office closures and staff realignments and reductions in New Hampshire," said Nate Evans, Harris' New Hampshire spokesman.

The almost abandonment of the first-in-the-nation primary state operations follows a major campaign shakeup announced earlier this week to lay off staff and significantly cut costs for Harris' campaign, the latest sign she is struggling to gain traction in the 2020 race.

According to a memo that campaign manager Juan Rodriguez sent to supporters and campaign staff, Harris will lay off staffers in her Baltimore headquarters, deploy staff from New Hampshire, Nevada and California to Iowa, and cut costs. The moves further commit her to her "all in" on Iowa strategy.

A CNN poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire that was released Tuesday showed Harris' support in the state at 3%, down from 9% in a July poll. The California Democrat made her last trip to the Granite State the first week in September.

Harris canceled her planned November trip to the state, during which she was supposed to file to put her name on the New Hampshire ballot in person. The aide said Harris' name will remain on the ballot but she will no longer file in person, bucking what has been a traditional moment in the nominating process that draws throngs of press and attention. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg filed in person earlier this week.

"The campaign will continue to have a staff presence in New Hampshire but the focus is and will continue to be on Iowa. Senator Harris will not visit New Hampshire on November 6 and 7, but her name will still be placed on the primary ballot," Evans said in a statement.

Harris has campaigned in the state only five times since announcing her candidacy last January. She drew hundreds to summer town halls and accumulated a slew of endorsements, including former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Joe Keefe and Jackie Weatherspoon, co-chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party's African American caucus.

The senator pivoted to an "all in on Iowa" strategy in September, with her campaign telling reporters at the time that she needed to finish in third in Iowa to succeed in the following early-nominating states.

"We want to make sure we have a strong top three finish," Rodriguez bluntly said on a conference call with reporters, adding that the goal means "more Kamala Harris on the stump and campaigning in early primary states."

Asked by reporters on Wednesday in Iowa how she plans to stay competitive in New Hampshire if she's pulled all her resources, Harris said, "We are still committed to New Hampshire, I am still committed to Nevada, I am still committed to South Carolina, but we needed to make difficult decisions, that's what campaigns require at this stage of the game. And so we have made those difficult decisions based on what we see to be our path toward victory."

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