New Hampshire Democrats began receiving calls from President Joe Biden asking them not to vote in the primary on Tuesday, saying it would aid former President Donald Trump. After several concerned voters came forward, a former party chairwoman discovered the truth: the calls weren’t actually coming from Joe Biden.
Kathy Sullivan, former New Hampshire Democratic Party chairwoman, is running the super PAC leading the write-in campaign for Biden, who will not appear on the New Hampshire primary ballot due to Democratic National Committee rules. She said she began receiving messages on Sunday evening from those who had received the robocall.
In the robocall, an apparent manipulation of Biden’s voice begins with “What a bunch of malarkey,” a favorite phrase of the president’s. He then goes on to say that “it’s important that you save your vote for the November election.”
“Voting this Tuesday only enables the Republicans in their quest to elect Donald Trump again. Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday,” the message says, according to NBC News. It ends with a phone number belonging to Sullivan.
Sullivan said a woman who was not a Biden supporter but received a call reached out to her.
“I said, ‘You got a call from Joe Biden, and he gave you my number?’” Sullivan said.
A volunteer for the write-in effort also received the call and recorded it, Sullivan said, and shared it with the write-in campaign organizers. It’s unknown how many voters received the call, which voters were targeted, and who is behind the robocalls.
“It’s obviously somebody who wants to hurt Joe Biden,” Sullivan added.
“I want them to be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible because this is an attack on democracy,” said Sullivan, who as an attorney believes the call could violate several laws. “I’m not going to let it go. I want to know who’s paying for it. Who knew about it? Who benefits?”
The former party chairwoman plans to engage with federal law enforcement on the matter, as well as the New Hampshire attorney general’s office. She has prior experience with this type of interference: In 2002, as party chairwoman, two Republican officials were convicted of using computer-generated phone calls to disrupt Democratic get-out-the-vote call operations.
Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign manager, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner that the campaign referred the matter to the New Hampshire attorney general and is “actively discussing additional actions to take immediately.”
“Spreading disinformation to suppress voting and deliberately undermine free and fair elections will not stand, and fighting back against any attempt to undermine our democracy will continue to be a top priority for this campaign,” Chavez Rodriguez said.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed the calls were fabricated during a press briefing on Monday.
“That call was indeed fake and not recorded by the president, I can confirm that,” Jean-Pierre said.
Under the DNC 2024 presidential primary calendar, South Carolina is the first-in-the-nation primary for the party. Though South Carolina is the first committee-sanctioned primary, New Hampshire will continue to hold its Democratic primary on Jan. 23. The DNC has ruled anyone who participates in the unsanctioned primary — Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Marianne Williamson — will not receive delegates at the nominating convention.
Instead, Biden will be relying on the voters that he pushed to the side to participate in a write-in effort, testing his campaign’s main strategy: that Democrats will rally behind Biden to keep Trump from the White House.
Phillips’s campaign said it was not aware of the calls but called the incident “wildly concerning.”
“Any effort to discourage voters is disgraceful and an unacceptable affront to democracy,” spokeswoman Katie Dolan said. “The potential use of AI to manipulate voters is deeply disturbing.”
Trump’s campaign denied to NBC News that they were behind the call.
“Not us, we have nothing to do with it,” a spokesperson said.