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Warren Hits The 2020 Campaign Trail In New Hampshire

Warren as presidential hopeful in New Hampshire
Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks to a group of about 450 at Manchester Community College in New Hampshire.
Saraya Wintersmith /WGBH

Fresh off the early, unofficial campaign trail in Iowa, Sen. Elizabeth Warren brought her populist message to about 450 voters in the Granite State on Saturday with a pair of events — a TED Talk-style presentation in Manchester and a house party, hosted by former Democratic State Sen. Silvia Larsen in Concord. The trip marked Warren’s first visit to the “next door neighbor” state since launching her 2020 exploratory committee.

At both events, she emphasized her working-class Oklahoma roots, and a proposed package aimed at tamping down corruption in Washington. She then took questions from attendees.

“This is about who the rules work for. Is it just going to be for the wealthy and the well-connected, or is it going to be for everyone else?” asked Warren teeing up part of her platform which she labeled “the biggest anti-corruption proposal since Watergate.”

“End lobbying as we know it,” she said, referring to the reform plan revealed last August. “Make the Supreme Court follow basic ethics rules, and make everyone who runs for public, federal office put their tax returns online,” she added.

The two-term Massachusetts Democrat was met with polite applause from voters, several of whom told WGBH News they plan to evaluate more candidates in the widening Democratic primary field, and at least one of whom was left wanting.

“I probably will not vote for her,” said Michael Domino while standing in line to greet Warren after the event. “I wanted her to talk about the persecution of journalists,” he said when asked what he wanted to hear from the candidate. Domino, 26, said the promise of systemic change are easy to make without a Democratic majority in both Congressional chambers. He said he was also curious about how Warren feels about the U.S. military budget.

Robert Schepis, 36, of Boston, stopped short of pledging his vote for Warren in 2020, but was pleased with her presentation. “I think she has a lot of clear-cut ideas, and it seems as though she has a ways and a means to get there,” he told WGBH News. Schepis, who said he usually identifies with Democrats, made the drive from Boston to hear her pitch. “In the political realm, this state means ten times more,” he explained. “You need to see it for yourself."

“Elizabeth is the right choice for president for 2020,” said Candace Moulton, a registered nurse from Manchester. Moulton, who identified solidly as a Democrat and ran for a seat in the New Hampshire legislature in 2018, said she was most impressed with Warren’s stance on healthcare. “She recognizes a lot of the issues surrounding our need for Medicaid expansion.”

New Hampshire Democratic State Rep. Rebecca McWilliams attended the more exclusive Concord event and said that while Warren was “convincing,” it’s very important for her to tell New Hampshire that she has leadership experience. “That’s the point where a lot of female candidates fall down,” said McWilliams.

Warren’s events in New Hampshire coincided with a presidential campaign announcement from former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro of Texas and came a day after Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii revealed her decision to run on CNN. Asked her reaction to the widening field, Warren said “I think it’s exciting that Democrats have so many ideas and so many people who want to get out and talk about them. We are, right now, the party of how to build a future in America.”

Warren is now scheduled to return at the end of next month for the New Hampshire Democrats’ annual fundraiser, the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner.

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