FRANCONIA — Elizabeth Warren, surging in the national polls, is also seeing a surge in the number of people coming to see her in the North Country, which she visited for the second time on Wednesday.
Her message of improving the incomes and lives of working families resonated with the 700 people, many area residents, turning out to Toad Hill Farm to see her and give her a rock star welcome.
With a dramatic view of the White Mountains behind her, Warren, the senior Democratic U.S. senator from Massachusetts and one of the first of the two dozen Democrats to announce her candidacy for the presidency, spoke of her young life, when her parents were struggling to make ends meet, and the path she took from being a special needs teacher, then a lawyer and law professor, and now a candidate for the nation’s top elected office.
“When I was a girl, a full-time minimum wage job in America would support a family of three,” said Warren. “It would cover a mortgage, utilities, and put food on the table. Today, a full-time minimum wage job in America will not keep a momma and a baby out of poverty. That is wrong and that is why I am in this fight.”
She vowed to fight corruption at every level, take on climate change deniers, put more power in the hands of workers and strengthen unions, protect Social Security so hardworking people can retire with security, go after the influence of money in Washington, and “end lobbying as we know it.”
All the stances drew cheers.
Mary Ruppert and Ken Parker, from Lyman, said Warren almost certainly has their vote in the Democratic primary in February.
“She has substance,” said Ruppert.
Parker said he agrees with Warren’s opinions, especially on making the U.S. more connected to the middle class.
Of the crowd size, Ruppert said, “This is an impressive turnout. Everywhere I looked, I saw people I knew.”
Warren was introduced and endorsed by local residents Martha McLeod, a former state representative who grew up in Franconia, and Jill Brewer, chair of the Franconia Board of Selectmen and a guidance counselor at Profile School.
The time is now to fix the issues ranging from fighting climate change to helping the families in the rural areas that the federal government and leaders in Washington, D.C. seemed to have turned their backs on, said McLeod.
“I’m supporting Elizabeth Warren,” said McLeod. “She’s drafted reasonable solutions to these problems … She cares about all of us and would bring that care to the White House.”
Brewer said, “Because Elizabeth feels what we feel, this is her fight, too. When she sees an injustice, when she sees corruption, when she sees something that makes democracy weaker, she comes up with the best plan to tackle the problem head on. And she has the brains, the guts, and much to Mitch McConnell’s annoyance, the persistence to make these plans happen … And with us in this fight with her, we can achieve the big structural changes our country desperately needs now more than ever.”
Jane Chung, whose parents moved to the United States from South Korea, is the organizer for Warren’s campaign in northern Grafton County.
“I’m living the American Dream and working to elect our first woman president of the United States,” said Chung. “I’m in this fight for Elizabeth. She is fighting for everyday Americans and not just for the rich and powerful … I’m fighting for a leader who has always fought for us.”
Warren promoted her plan for a wealth tax, a 2-percent tax on wealth greater than $50 million, or 2 cents on every dollar above $50 million, on nation’s 75,000 largest fortunes.
“It’s time a for a wealth tax in America,” she said.
Such a tax that would be on the top 1/10 of 1 percent of Americans would pay for universal childcare, raise the salaries of teachers, create tuition-free colleges, cancel student debt for most who have it, and provide money to fight opioid addiction, she said.
“Government can actually be a force for good. and when we do that, we change this whole country,” said Warren.
To a standing ovation, Warren said, This is our moment in history. This our time, our time to get organized, to build a grassroots movement, to persist and to make this a country of our best values. Dream big, fight hard, and let’s win this.”
Like Ruppert and Parker, David Van Houten, of Bethlehem, also said Warren has his vote.
“I’ve been a big fan of Elizabeth Warren for quite a while,” he said. “There wasn’t any converting being done, but she certainly solidified my support because she’s articulate, she’s passionate, she knows what she’s talking about and I believe her that she is capable of going and making a change.”
Van Houten said his three sons and their wives were sitting at the table Tuesday evening and having a heated discussion about the split in the Democratic Party and what they see is a very strong progressive movement in the party that is being split between Warren and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, who was in Littleton on Tuesday for his presidential campaign stop.
“We’re just trying to figure out how this is going to resolve itself,” said Van Houten.
Warren is the one who is inspirational and will likely inspire more women across the nation to come out to vote, he said.
“That is what we need if we are going to make a big change because we’re going to need not only the presidency, but also the House and the Senate in order to move forward the policies that she articulates that most of us support,” said Van Houten.
In March at Littleton High School, Warren drew about 150 area residents to a discussion on her plan to fight opioid addiction, a talk that also included her positions on campaign finance and election reforms that many there also supported.