The polls opened in New Hampshire on Tuesday for the first-in-the-nation primary. WGBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu, on the road in Manchester, N.H., spoke with former Vice President Joe Biden. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: Good morning and congratulations for making it to the primary. You've been at this for a long time. So give it to me straight. You're not expecting to win the New Hampshire primary. What's going to happen today?

Joe Biden: Well, I don't know what's going to happen today. I feel good about the response we've gotten. But, you know, I viewed from beginning, as I've said before I even announced: You take a look at the first four contests, two primaries, two caucuses, and they represent the nation. You represent New England, I think, up here and for real. And Iowa is a Midwestern state that has a lot of roots. And then we're going to South Carolina with a large African-American population. Then out to Nevada with a large Hispanic and mixed population. So, you know, I kind of view them all as one piece to begin with. And then you've got to figure out who's going to be able to go on and win in Pennsylvania, win in Michigan, win in states that we lost last time, as well as help Senate candidates win. It's not enough for the Democrats just to win the presidency. You've got to be able to bring along the bench. You've got to change the Senate, like we did the House.

Mathieu: You have to bring coattails, is what you're saying.

Biden: Yeah, I think so. I'm not being facetious. I really mean that. I think that we have a chance of winning, picking up Senate seats, in North Carolina and Georgia, and in a number of other states. And so it's a legitimate question. Like, for example, I went into 24 states that were purple and red states in the '18 election and I campaigned for all those candidates, 65 of them. And we won back the House and we took it to the Republicans on the issue of health care. And we won, we won back the House. And now we have to do the same thing in the United States Senate. And so this has to be someone who has value added to these frontline states and candidates. And so far, most of them have endorsed me and want me in their state. And I feel good about it.

Mathieu: So let's talk about Super Tuesday and beyond. You recently criticized Pete Buttigieg for a lack of national experience. You've said a self-declared democratic socialist, i.e. Bernie Sanders, cannot win the country. How, then, does a Democrat beat Donald Trump?

Biden: No, I didn't say he couldn't win the country. I said I don't think he can help candidates who are in trouble in tough states win, particularly in the South and the West.

Mathieu: Do you think he's a viable general election candidate?

Biden: Look, I think any of the Democrats have a shot at beating Donald Trump. I do. And I don't think — I wasn't criticizing Pete Buttigieg. What I've had on television, all my ads are about health care here. What I did do [is] respond to Pete saying that all inherited the problems of the past. Well, who's the past? Barack Obama and Joe Biden. We were the last before Trump was [in office]. So he's implicitly criticizing what we did. Well, we did a pretty good job, I think. And the president did a hell of a job. And I was responsible for a number of the things that mattered. I was able to convince three Republicans to switch their votes and to do the Recovery Act, which was $900 billion — $900 billion kept us from going into a depression, less than 1 percent fraud or waste in the largest program ever spent. And so, the idea I didn't do anything? I'm the guy that put together the chemical weapons treaty. I'm the guy that helped get Obamacare passed. I was responding to his criticism that baggage was the last administration.

Mathieu: Can we go back to that period in time? When the nation was on the edge of the cliff, the very beginning of the Obama administration, the bailouts had happened. Then it was time for the stimulus package. This president talks about his stock market, his job creation. But in fact, the numbers in the Obama administration for job creation and the upswing in stock market was greater. How do you make that case, though? How do you remind people that that happened?

Biden: Well, I remind them of that. But even more importantly, what happened — we were just beginning to rebuild the middle class, and he won. Look what's happened to the middle class. They're getting killed. Go back to your old neighborhood. Do you think they think the economy is really great? Middle class people, the studies show if you get a bill for $400 in a month, you'd have to borrow the money and/or sell something. You find working class folks have no way up. People making less than $15 an hour living in poverty. He opposes that. Look at his budget. He just introduced a budget that cuts a trillion dollars out of Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare. This is all about bringing people along and the middle class is really in trouble. And look at the attack on unions. He's gone full bore, taking on unions. Unions are the ones who built the middle class. So this is all about making sure the economy works for everybody. And it's not now. It's not now. So when I announce this, and I'm doing three things: One, I'm going to restore the soul of this country — decency, honor and our place in the world in terms of our word. Secondly, to make sure we rebuild the backbone, which is the middle class and working class folks. They're getting killed. And this time, bring everybody along. And thirdly, unite the country. They're the things I've done my whole career.

Mathieu: I was at a Biden event, a surrogate event with John Kerry a couple of weeks ago here in New Hampshire. He was rallying the troops as they got ready to canvass. He said, don't forget: If Joe Biden is the nominee, Mike Bloomberg will keep spending money to support him in a general election. Is that something that you're counting on? And I just wonder, what kind of a man is Mike Bloomberg, do you have a relationship with him?

Biden: No, I — I know Mike. I respect him.

Mathieu: Is that money part of the long-ball game for you?

Biden: No, look, I think what he's saying is that there are people who are seeking the nomination that, I'm assuming that if Bloomberg lost the nomination, didn't get it, he'd be — if he means what he says, and I think he does, about why he's running — that he would help the Democratic nominee. I assume that's what [he meant]. And there's certain Democratic nominees he probably wouldn't help. But look, Mike's a decent guy. But, you know, he's already — he and [Tom] Steyer have already spent a half a billion dollars in advertising.

Mathieu: That's a small economy of its own.

Biden: Yeah. And they're going to spend it. And he says he's going to spend a billion dollars. I'm anxious to debate Mike on the issues and we're gonna get to do that in Nevada.