As part of a campaign swing through all 10 New Hampshire counties, Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand pitched her plans and took questions from voters Friday at L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates in Walpole.
Word of mouth drew a packed crowd to the chocolate shop; at least 60 people attended after a Burdick’s staff member said the restaurant was alerted to only 35 RSVPs from the campaign beforehand.
Gillibrand’s team handed out stickers and took voter information from those willing to participate, asking for small donations so she can qualify for the third round of debates.
Judy Epstein and Joanna Andros — retired social workers from Walpole — said they came to learn more about the candidate and wanted to see whether they felt Gillibrand could beat Trump and unite the country.
Gillibrand entered shortly after 11 a.m., joined by her husband, Jonathan, as well as a campaign videographer, who took footage of the event and had a mic hooked to the candidate’s back.
Gillibrand opened with a biographical story about being inspired to get into politics by her grandmother, the late Dorothea “Polly” Noonan, and injecting some humor about her mother, Polly Rutnik, shooting the Thanksgiving turkey every year. Gillibrand then walked through some of her policy proposals before taking questions.
One proposal the New York senator tied into several areas, particularly in addressing the opioid crisis, is her ”Democracy Dollars” campaign finance reform plan.
In May, Gillibrand spoke to The Sentinel about the publicly financed elections program that would give voters vouchers to donate to campaigns in an effort to mitigate corporate influence on elections.
“I promise you, the insurance and the drug companies spend millions and millions of dollars on lobbyists and on campaigns to make sure that in the dead of night when [legislators] are writing those bills, their voices are heard louder than yours,” Gillibrand said.
She said that Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates need to be raised “to reflect cost,” particularly in the Granite State, for health care providers to maintain an adequate level of service.
And she also touted her history in the Senate advocating for increased rural broadband access and other initiatives that she said would help New Hampshire residents.
“I’m able to get things done, even in the last Congress, when it was a Republican [controlled] House, Senate and president, I passed 18 pieces of legislation,” she said. “Donald Trump signed them into law. He does not know he signed my bills into law, but he did, and they were common-sense bills, things that would help a community like this in New Hampshire: more money for rural broadband, more money for small businesses — particularly employee ownership of small businesses — more money for rural manufacturing.”
During the Q&A period, Gillibrand took a question from Quinn Mitchell, an 11-year-old from Walpole who estimates he has been to 24 presidential candidate events so far this cycle.
Quinn asked Gillibrand what she would do to address climate change, to which the senator replied with her plan to put a price on carbon and invest the tax revenue into green-energy technology.
In a follow-up interview, Gillibrand told The Sentinel her plan does not include a cap on total carbon emissions, but that the ultimate goal of the price on carbon and investment in green energy would be to reach net-zero emissions within 10 years.
Andros asked Gillibrand a question on how to “heal” the political divide in America, which the candidate said was “the best question” a voter could ask because it’s the reason she’s running for president. Gillibrand added that increasing regulations on social media companies and possibly breaking them up through anti-trust laws could be part of any solution.
“There are a lot of [other candidates] who believe the same things I believe, but I’m different than all of them because I serve all communities, always,” Gillibrand said. “I have never turned my back on a community.”