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Sanders, Warren make last-minute pitch to Upper Valley voters

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., greets members of the audience after speaking at a campaign stop at Stevens High School, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Claremont, N.H. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a campaign event at Rundlett Middle School, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

  • Attendees listen to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speak during a campaign event at Rundlett Middle School, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Valley News Staff Writers
Published: 2/9/2020 9:58:31 PM
Modified: 2/9/2020 9:58:29 PM

CLAREMONT — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., made a final appeal to Upper Valley voters on Sunday, contending his agenda helps working families and is gaining ground across the country.

“It is not a radical idea to say if you have cancer or heart disease, you should not go bankrupt,” Sanders, long an advocate for a Medicare for All health system, said to loud applause from almost 600 people at a late-afternoon rally at Stevens High School in Claremont.

Earlier in the afternoon, he had drawn 350 people to the Grand Ballroom of the Hanover Inn, plus another 100 in an overflow room.

Later on Sunday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., drew 675 people to an evening rally at Lebanon High School and highlighted her ability to win tough elections, noting she defeated a Republican incumbent in 2012.

“Here’s the thing about unwinnable fights,” said Warren. “They’re only unwinnable if you don’t get in the fight and fight it.”

In his 40-minute speech in Claremont, Sanders walked voters through issues he first brought to national attention during his 2016 presidential bid, when he won the New Hampshire primary and more than 20 other states against eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. His earlier campaign, he said, set the stage for growing support across the country for $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All and strong measures to combat climate change.

“That agenda is unfolding all over the country,” Sanders said.

He also suggested that a country that could afford to pay baseball players tens of millions of dollars a year could pay entry-level teachers $60,000, not the $29,000 he said some school districts pay.

“We are going to change the priorities of our country,” Sanders said.

Sanders, who won the first two rounds of voting at last week’s Iowa caucuses and finished in a virtual tie there with former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, also said the primary this week will set the tone for the rest of the country and asked voters for their support.

“What happens in New Hampshire on Tuesday is very, very important. … We won in Iowa — if we win here in New Hampshire, we have got a great chance to win in Nevada, South Carolina and California, and we got a path to the Democratic nomination,” Sanders said.

After the speech, Rachel Sullivan, a 24-year-old Grantham resident and the mother of a 2½-year-old, said she was still making up her mind but was impressed.

“I loved everything he said,” Sullivan said. “His stance on climate change is a big factor that makes me swing toward him. Also universal health care, of course, and early education for children is super important, too.”

Angela Kelley, a Springfield, Vt., resident who works for a nonprofit group, said she was a longtime Sanders fan.

“I really loved that he actually talked about child care and the importance of having child care being accessible to families,” said Kelley, who brought her 16-year-old daughter Madison to the Claremont rally.

“I wanted to bring her out to see a candidate who stands for integrity, and that was what we got,” Kelley said.

In Lebanon, Warren stuck to her message of denouncing big money in government and political corruption.

“If there is a decision to be made in Washington, I guarantee it is shaped by money,” said Warren, who helped create the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Oklahoma native and former professor at Harvard Law School, where she specialized in bankruptcy law, added that she has pushed the largest set of anti-corruption measures since Watergate, adding, “Here’s the bad news: We need the biggest anti-corruption bill since Watergate.”

Included in her proposal is a measure that would require presidential candidates to post their tax returns online.

At one point during a Q-and-A with Warren, a pre-schooler was handed the microphone and began to talk about how much she likes her teacher. “Do you think all little children should go to pre-school?” Warren asked the girl, drawing cheers as she discussed her support for universal pre-K.

Warren’s appearance locked in the support of Pam Hanson, a 63-year-old Grantham resident who saw three candidates in action this weekend.

“We came and heard Pete yesterday, Bernie this afternoon, and Elizabeth this evening. They’re all good can didates, but I’m voting for Elizabeth,” Hanson said.

Also campaigning in the Upper Valley on Sunday was Andrew Yang, who drew 285 people to the Top of the Hop at Dartmouth.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com. Rohan Chakravarty can be reached at rchakravarty@vnews.com.

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