Gillibrand seeks support in Walpole

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WALPOLE, N.H. — At 11 years old, Quinn Mitchell is already a veteran political watcher.

The Walpole student was front and center Friday at Burdick's Cafe, waiting for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to talk to the group gathered on an increasingly hot and muggy morning.

Quinn said Gillibrand's morning meet-and-greet was his 24th political event of the 2020 presidential campaign, and he wanted to know what the two-term New York senator thought about climate change. "This is my 24th candidate," he said, saying he wasn't choosing a candidate yet. "There are so many great candidates," he said.

He said climate change was one of his top topics, and he said he was disappointed when candidates spent time talking about impeaching President Donald Trump.

Not that Quinn doesn't think Trump shouldn't be impeached, but it's "too much of a distraction," he said.

Gillibrand didn't disappoint, delivering a passionate diatribe against climate change, one of several responses to questions that drew applause from the 50 or so people crammed into the elegant cafe, filled with glass cases displaying pastries and chocolates, delicacies such as passionfruit mousse cake and hazelnut mousse cupcakes, as well as Burdick's signature chocolate mice.

Quinn was one of several dozen people who sipped cappuccino or iced espresso, waiting for Gillibrand to show up.

Gillibrand pledged as president to pass a "green New Deal," and she said she also supports a carbon tax.

She said she wants to start a 'green energy race with China," like former President John Kennedy had started the space race with Russia in the 1960s.

Putting a price on carbon, she said, would make business pay attention and enact true change, she said.

And she won more applause when she said she supports a national public service system that would in exchange give students free community college tuition.

Gillibrand, who is trailing the large field of Democratic candidates, registering about 1 percent in most polls, urged the Walpole crowd to go to her campaign website and even send in a donation of $1, which would help her continue to be recognized and participate in the upcoming televised national Democratic debates.

Gillibrand, accompanied by her husband and a squad of young campaign workers, was 20 minutes late getting to Burdick's, but quickly took charge, rearranging people so everyone could see.

With a quick biographical introduction - with an emphasis on the strong women in her family - Gillibrand said she was well qualified and eager to take on not just Trump but what she called corruption in the political system.

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"I'm not afraid of anything," she said.

She said she first ran for office in Republican update New York to get U.S. troops out of Iraq. And, she said, she also ran on a goal of "Medicare for All" before it was so popular with fellow Democrats.

"I can win in red places," she said. "I take on the fights no one will take on," she said, noting she had challenged the Pentagon on its 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, as well as sexual violence in the military.

She earned applause from the crowd when she said she wouldn't take any campaign funds from federal lobbyists, which she said was the first step to fighting greed and corruption in the political system.

She said she was spending a week campaigning in New Hampshire, and had attended two parades in New Hampshire on the Fourth of July. After lunch at Burdick's, she was headed to an event in Claremont.

Her biggest applause came at the end, when she told the gathering that it was time for a "working mom rather than a misogynist" to be in the White House.

Joanna Andros, a retired therapist from Walpole, said she had come to the event not knowing much of anything about Gillibrand but came away from the event impressed. "I'm impressed with her," she said, noting that Gillibrand showed that she knows how to "bring people into the fold," Andros said, and heal the divisions in the country.

"She's got plans and policies," she said.

Lori Larue and her cousin, Susan Harlow, both of Westminster, Vt., said they wanted to hear Gillibrand. Larue, a computer engineer who works for a Keene, N.H., company, said she had gone to several candidate events in the past several months, enjoying seeing the candidates in person and hearing their pitch for support.

Both Larue and Harlow said it was too early for them to make up their minds, but they were paying attention.

The problem, Larue said, is having the time to go to the events.

"I wish I could see more candidates," she said.

By the time Gillibrand finished, Quinn was holding a Gillibrand 2020 sign and, like most people in the cafe, was wearing black and pink Gillibrand 2020 stickers.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 556-2147.


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