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Telegraph - Primary is 'Wide Open,' Biden Says

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Location: Concord, NH

Telegraph - Primary is 'Wide Open,' Biden Says

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN Kevin Landrigan

Democratic presidential candidate and Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden insisted today his low standing in New Hampshire primary polls is of little concern because most voters will only start to decide on a candidate until mid-December.

"This is wide open, absolutely wide open. This has been about money, name recognition and stardom which is understandable, I'm not complaining, seriously I'm not," Biden told reporters. "The only reason I'm not complaining is I know it gets down to serious consideration, and it's beginning to happen now."

Biden, 64, committed to backing New Hampshire as the first primary state in the future.

"It is a literal fact, it is not an exaggeration, it is not fiction, it is not hyperbole to suggest that without the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucus, there is no level-playing field," Biden said.

Biden visited the state's political library, signed papers to become an official candidate and then canceled the rest of his schedule to return to Capitol Hill for a vote on the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

The Senate vote didn't deter the Democratic front-runner, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who kept appointments including a rally with students at the University of New Hampshire in Durham and a visit to a Newmarket bookstore.

Clinton makes her own sign-up official today after a rally with supporters in front of the Statehouse. This is the final day that candidates can sign papers and pay $1,000 for their names to be on the New Hampshire primary ballot.

Unlike primary rivals Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Biden declined to accuse Clinton of waffling on issues such as Social Security, the U.S. negotiating posture with Iran and driver's licenses for undocumented aliens.

"I'm not running against Mrs. Clinton; I am running to be the leader of the free world," Biden said. Biden said it was fair criticism for Clinton rivals to question her acceptance of more money from federal lobbyists than any other candidate.

Biden, a 35-year member of Congress, ran for president in 1988 but withdrew from the race before the filing period had opened.

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