Primary Source: Steyer and Gabbard talk to Valley voters

  • John P. Gregg. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/8/2020 9:55:08 PM
Modified: 1/8/2020 10:13:00 PM

Two Democratic presidential candidates on the national stage but not at the top of the pack were in the Upper Valley this week, making more connections leading up to New Hampshire’s Feb. 11 primary.

Environmental activist — and former hedge fund manager — Tom Steyer campaigned at Jesse’s restaurant on Wednesday evening after a visit with editors and reporters at the Valley News.

Steyer, who was calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment long before the U.S. House took action, has spent tens of millions of dollars on getting out the vote and promoting activism on climate change through NextGen America, the nonprofit group he started after leaving the hedge fund he founded. And he made a forceful argument for fixing a broken government he said is dominated by corporate interests.

But asked during his visit to the paper how his past work with the San Francisco-based Farallon Capital Management as it invested in the coal industry and private prisons will play with voters, Steyer said, “In both of those cases, I realized I had made a mistake without anyone asking me, and it was just a moral decision ... I sold them, divested and worked against them, and that was 15 years ago.”

Steyer remains a limited partner at Farallon, but he has strict limitations now on what he invests in.

In talking about climate change, Steyer said the science is clear and major action is needed. “Physics doesn’t care about partisan politics,” he said. “Mother Nature is not going to give you an extension on your paper.”

Also campaigning in the heart of the Valley this week was U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who held events in Grantham, Hanover and Enfield over three evenings.

At the Enfield Community Center on Monday, she said Trump’s decision to order an airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad was an “act of war” that is “undermining our national security interests in two very serious ways,” according to a video of her appearance on YouTube.

First, she said, it is increasing the odds of a nuclear threat from Iran, especially after Trump pulled out of the accord there; and second, “It is allowing ISIS and al-Qaeda to strengthen and reconstitute themselves, further putting us and people in the region at risk.”

Gabbard, whose talk in Enfield was delayed as she did a remote interview with a Fox News host, also talked about how she convinced her mother to make 434 boxes of “her famous macadamia nut toffee” when she first went to Congress in 2013 to win over her new colleagues, with another set of bigger boxes for their staff, calling it a “gift of aloha for everyone of my colleagues and soon-to-be new friends.”

Gary Hutchins, a retired teacher and military veteran who helped organize the Enfield event and introduced Gabbard there, said in a phone interview Wednesday that he is backing the 38-year-old lawmaker because he sees her as a straight shooter.

“I’m going on her experience, military and political, and the fact that she tells the truth and is not afraid of telling the truth. She does not mince words, period,” Hutchins said.

Hutchins said he was not at all put off by the fact that Gabbard voted “present” last month in the House impeachment of Trump; she later said she did so because impeachment would only “embolden” Trump.

“I think she made a stand,” Hutchins said. “Obviously, it has been very partisan, and that’s where she separated herself.”

Biden backers

Former Vice President Joe Biden is getting some love from a prominent former Republican senator from New Hampshire. Gordon Humphrey this week backed Biden, his former Senate colleague, saying it is “urgent” that Trump be replaced for the sake of national security.

“President Trump has jeopardized our international alliances, and what we need now more than ever is strong, steady leadership, not government by tantrums and tweets,” Humphrey said in statement released by the Biden campaign. Humphrey in 2016 backed Hillary Clinton over Trump.

And U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Penn., the Marine veteran who won a Trump-friendly district in the Pittsburgh area, will be campaigning for Biden in the Upper Valley on Saturday, with a “canvass kickoff” in Lebanon at 1 p.m. at the Biden campaign office on Mechanic Street and at a phone bank for Biden at 3 p.m. in Claremont.

Medical panel

Dartmouth-Hitchcock CEO Joanne Conroy was in Washington on Wednesday as part of a panel organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center, which came out with a new poll showing health care is a “top of mind issue” for more than half of voters leading into the 2020 election.

The online poll, which included a national sample of 1,988 registered voters and 300 voters in such early voting states as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, did not show strong support for Medicare-for-All or repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, with voters preferring to improve the current system.

Conroy noted that voters in the Live Free or Die state have concerns about how Medicare-for-All would be financed.

“People are starting to take a pause,” she said in a livestream of Wednesday’s event. Instead, she said, the candidates are focusing their talking points on “things that can be fixed,” such as out-of-pocket and prescription drug costs.

Valley News staff writer Nora Doyle-Burr contributed to this report. John P. Gregg can be reached at

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