Paul Steinhauser – February 8, 2019
HAMPTON – Sen. Sherrod Brown made the Seacoast his first stop as he arrived in New Hampshire on Friday on a tour to help him decide on running for the White House.
“New Hampshire matters. It’s one of the very few states that matters both in the primaries…and in the general election,” the Ohio Democrat said.
“It’s a swing state like Ohio is, with a lot of the same kinds of problems. The opioid addiction public health crisis is as serious in Ohio as it is New Hampshire. We know how deadly and awful it is for families in both our states,” he explained.
And Brown highlighted that “I’ve worked with Sen. Shaheen on a number of pieces of legislation. We need a full commitment from our government, which we haven’t had in the Trump years and frankly before that to combat this awful public health crisis.”
The senator was interviewed minutes before he headlined a roundtable discussion hosted by the Granite State-based Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, which was held at Winnacunnet High School. The event kicked off a two-day swing through the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.
“I put my record up against anybody for fighting for workers,” Brown answered, when asked if there’s room for another progressive populist in the White House race with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts formally launching her campaign on Saturday.
“I’ve been a progressive populist my whole career. I’ve fought for the dignity of work. It’s who I am,” Brown said.
And he targeted Republican President Donald Trump, saying “we see at the White House this phony populism of President Trump….His phony populism is you divide people and you push people down to lift some others up. Real populism is not racist. It’s not anti-Semitic. It doesn’t divide people. It doesn’t do hate speech and real populism is fighting for workers.”
As he makes up his mind on running in 2020, Brown is on what he calls a “Dignity of Work” tour that’s already taken him to Iowa, the state that votes first in the primary and caucus calendar.
Brown, who won re-election in November to a third term representing the Buckeye State in the Senate, stuck with his timetable, saying “I will likely make a decision a month from now.”
“Too many Democrats think you choose between talking to your progressive base and talking to workers about their lives. And I think you don’t win in New Hampshire or Ohio or a whole lot of swing states unless you do both. That’s who I am, fighting for workers as a progressive and what I think the message of the Democratic Party should be,” he explained.
At the ensuing roundtable discussion with local politicians, activists, voters and students, the senator spoke and took questions from the panel and the audience for nearly an hour.
Brown spotlighted his commitment to fight for family leave, voting rights, and reducing the costs of higher education.
At the end of the discussion, Brown was asked by a Winnacunnet senior who identified herself as Teagan how he could help motivate younger students to get more politically active.
Brown highlighted the “50 percent increase in turnout in young voters” in last year’s elections. “You change the world by voting.”
And he added that “it’s malpractice on my party’s part and my part if we cannot connect the dots” to inspire younger voters to get involved.
Chris Muns, the chief executive officer of a community-based services company that assists people with developmental disabilities, sat on the panel with Brown.
Muns, who also chairs the Hampton Democrats, said he liked that Brown’s “very down to earth. I think he really connects with the issues that facing people day in and day out.”
Longtime state Rep. Renny Cushing of Hampton, a leading Granite State progressive who was a top Granite State supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, said Brown “speaks to a base of the Democratic Party here in New Hampshire that he does have the ability to unite progressives and also working class people.”
Later Friday, Brown mingled with Democratic politicians and local rainmakers at a house party at the Hampton home of former state House of Representatives Speaker Terri Norelli.
On Saturday the senator’s tour takes him from Berlin in the very north of the state, down to Laconia, the state capital city of Concord, and Manchester, where he’ll keynote the increasingly influential New Hampshire Young Democrats annual fundraising dinner and awards ceremony.