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Will New Hampshire 'correct' Iowa's vote for president? Trump and Haley could be surprised

Voters in the Granite State will make their choice on Tuesday in the first Republican primary of 2024. New Hampshire has picked more than one president. Could it happen again?

New Hampshire is about to test Nikki Haley’s theory that our state "corrects" Iowa’s vote. It may not have endeared her to the Hawkeye state, but the former South Carolina governor’s statement is grounded in history. It has been almost a quarter century since Iowa’s winner became the GOP’s nominee. By contrast, our state has picked the last three standard bearers in competitive contests.

The Granite State has also served as a launching pad and millstone for the two current frontrunners. In 2016, Donald Trump’s 20-point primary victory was jet fuel for his candidacy. After Trump left our state, he never looked back.

Four years later, Joe Biden finished a distant fifth in his party’s primary, more than 15 percentage points behind socialist, independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. As Politico observed, Biden, "limped away from New Hampshire with a devastating fifth-place finish, zero delegates and the viability of his campaign in question." Biden left the state before the polls had even closed. 

IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT HALEY, DESANTIS OR TRUMP, THIS IS A NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY UNLIKE ANY OTHER

Since then, our nation has endured a once-in-a-century pandemic, a once-in-a-generation inflation crisis, an embarrassing end to one global conflict and the start of two more in Israel and Ukraine. Illegal border crossings have reached historic highs, while antisemitism runs rampant among the leadership of our most venerable academic institutions.

Yet against that backdrop, the most likely next presidents of the United States will be either an 81-year-old incumbent or a 77-year-old defendant. Both face different questions about their ability to lead.

Biden is a shadow of the loquacious, back-slapping, deal cutter who prowled the floors of the Senate for 36 years. He’s nowhere near the vice president who swore me into the U.S. Senate in 2010. Gone are the days of verbose remarks, replaced by a rickety and frail man who looks every bit his age and whose decline his staff takes great pains to hide. When Ronald Reagan and John McCain faced questions about their age, they were a decade younger than Biden, who would be 86 at the end of a second term.

ECONOMY, BORDER AND 'ANYBODY BUT TRUMP': AMERICANS SHARE THEIR PRIORITIES IN PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY

We’ve all dealt with aging relatives, and it’s sad watching their faculties fail. It cannot happen to the leader of the free world.

To my Democrat friends, you may loathe Trump, but ask yourself if Biden is up to the task of commander in chief. Imagine him sitting across the table from Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping or any of the other hostile foreign actors. Envision him taking that 3 AM phone call that Hillary Clinton used to warn about. 

DOWN TO TRUMP IN THE POLLS ON PRIMARY EVE, HALEY VOWS SHE'S 'IN THIS FOR THE LONG HAUL'

To those supporting Trump, I get it. I traveled around the world to serve his administration. In 2016, his candidacy represented a needed break from the status quo. He was, as Nikki Haley says, the right president for the right time. The nation was safer and stronger under his watch. Gas and grocery prices were lower. Interest rates were affordable. The border was secure, and the world was more stable. No one had ever heard of the term "Bidenomics." Faceless agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission were doing their jobs, not implementing an extreme ideological agenda.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE FOX NEWS OPINION

Trump governed as he campaigned, as an agent of unpredictability. We’ve seen four years of a Trump Administration. Many of his policies were laudable. Even JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon stated as much. But it’s impossible to know what a second term will look like. 

New Hampshire has always blazed our own path, and nearly half of our voters don’t belong to either political party. Polls show Trump in the lead, with Haley nipping at his heels. She has run a strong New Hampshire campaign, and put in the hard work our state demands. It's also fitting that Biden’s name won’t even be on the ballot. A final snub to the state who never had much use for Biden during his three runs for president.

Like the era of Bill Belichick, the town halls, the meet and greets, the parades, the backyard barbecues are in the rearview mirror. We’ve had our chance to evaluate these candidates. The time for choosing is here.

Pick wisely, New Hampshire. The rest of the country is watching, and we won’t get a do-over. Whatever we choose, the ramifications loom large. As John H. Sununu put it and history tells us, Iowa picks corn, New Hampshire picks presidents.

A former Republican U.S. senator and ambassador, Scott Brown is a resident of Rye, New Hampshire and chairman of the Competitiveness Coalition.

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