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Elizabeth Warren draws large crowd for first New Hampshire campaign event

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, addressed the audience Saturday at Manchester Community College.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, addressed the audience Saturday at Manchester Community College.(John Tlumacki/GLOBE STAFF)

MANCHESTER, N.H. — During her first event in New Hampshire after setting up a presidential exploratory committee two weeks ago, US Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced herself by weaving her own personal biography with the economic populism that had defined her political career.

From her own upbringing in Oklahoma, to policy issues of the day involving the environment, legalization of marijuana, campaign finance reform and early childhood education, Warren earned a few standing ovations over the course of an hour from about 600 people at Manchester Community College .

“We need more power. More power in the hands of unions. More power in the hands of employees and consumers to balance the power that corporations and the wealthy have in Washington,” said Warren while standing on a small stage in the round.

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No fewer than three babies were sitting in the front row. Her dog, Bailey, along her husband, Bruce Mann, watched from back stage.

PHOTOS: Warren takes her 2020 campaign to New Hampshire

After 15 minutes of opening remarks, Warren took six questions and answered with deep dives into policy items like “net metering” on energy policy. Yet most of her remarks were about reframing herself away from the notion that she “was born at Harvard.”

Indeed, talking with reporters after the event she accepted the premise that she will talk more about her time prior to living in Massachusetts.

“People want to know how you started as a person. I was born and raised in Oklahoma. It was part of my story and will always be,” said Warren.

In addition to the Manchester event, which was open to the public, Warren also attended a private party at the Concord home of former state Senate president Sylvia Larsen, meant as a more intimate gathering with the state’s political elite. Larsen did the same thing at the end of Hillary Clinton’s first day of campaigning in the state during the 2016 presidential primary.

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Politically speaking, the one day trip to New Hampshire will serve as something of a marker for other candidates planning for their trips to the state. There were significant amount of media attention and solid attendance, indicative that voters were interested in sizing her up for the first time. This includes voters like Christine Cunningham, a former Clinton supporter from Manchester who is interested in Warren and Beto O’Rourke.

“Personally I love to see a woman president, but after the flak Hillary got I’m worried it’s too risky,” said Cunningham.

Should Warren officially enter the contest, she has a budding New Hampshire team to help her.

The Globe has learned that Liz Wester, who served as Clinton’s political director in the 2016 campaign, is set to join Warren’s campaign. Wester has also worked for the state Democratic Party and Jeanne Shaheen. Along with Wester, Warren’s top aide Roger Lau has a lot of experience in New Hampshire. Warren sent communications aide Gabrielle Farrell and field operative Adrienne Viarengo to help the New Hampshire Democratic Party during the 2018 midterm election.


James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesPindell.