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In N.H., Elizabeth Warren stresses her modest upbringing

Senator Elizabeth Warren greeted Ellie Zink, 9, of Franklin, N.H., after a campaign appearance.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

PLYMOUTH, N.H. — Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced herself to a crowd in New Hampshire Saturday not as a former law professor, author, or US senator, but as a child of parents saved from financial devastation by her mother’s minimum-wage job.

“When I was a kid ... a minimum wage job in America would support a family of three,” Warren said. “It would pay a mortgage, it would pay the utilities, and it would put food on the table. Today a minimum-wage job in America will not keep a momma and a baby out of poverty, and that is why I am in this fight.”


Warren delivered her remarks to about 300 college students and locals at Plymouth State University during a two-day visit to New Hampshire, her second since announcing her bid for president. Warren was the first 2020 presidential candidate several audience members had seen, and they weren’t ready to promise their vote.

Gunnar Consol, a sophomore studying meteorology, voted for President Trump but could see himself voting for a Democrat in the next election. He liked that Warren talked about “honoring science” when addressing climate change.

He also appreciated her bipartisan approach to pushing legislation that will soon allow consumers to purchase hearing aids without going through a licensed audiologist or other specialist. It’s a measure proponents expect to lower prices and encourage innovation. And at a time of gridlock in Washington, it’s one Warren highlights as a successful example of working with Republicans to get something done.

Rather than delve into policy details, Warren highlighted several of her top campaign priorities, including universal child care, health care reform, affordable education, climate change, workers rights and campaign finance reform. She said the time for small steps is over.

“We have a government that works great if you can hire an army of lobbyists,” Warren said. “A government that works great if you’ve got the money to make yourself heard in Washington, but a government that too often doesn’t want to hear from anyone else.”


She acknowledged that her list of priorities is long. “Yeah, it’s big change, but you don’t get what you don’t fight for.”

Joseph LaCreta, a freshman from Merrimack, N.H., who is studying political science, told Warren her support for the Green New Deal — a broad plan to combat climate change — concerned him because the $3.65 trillion in government money is too expensive. Warren encouraged LeCreta to think of the money as an investment in infrastructure.

“I believe that if we keep heading in the direction in which we are spending way too little on infrastructure, we can’t build a 21st-century economy on a 20th-century infrastructure,” she said.

Asked afterward what he thought of Warren’s answer, LaCreta said he and Warren agree on a need to address climate change but would do so differently. He would prefer private industry — not the government — take the lead on infrastructure investments.

Mark Connelly, a freshman from Anchorage, Alaska, said he didn’t agree with all of Warren’s positions but felt most Americans would support her effort to lower the cost of prescription drugs and college education. Connelly said didn’t share Warren’s support for the Affordable Care Act, which he believes limited health care choices for Americans.

Marianne O’Loughlin of Bethlehem, N.H., said she is likely to vote for Warren because Warren understands challenges of middle-class families. “A lot of my peers have been held back because of things like housing and student debt,” she said. One friend, she said, has a master’s degree and is working full time but lives with her parents because she can’t afford to live on her own.


The first person chosen by lottery to ask Warren a question was the only one who can’t vote. Nine-year-old Ellie Zink from Franklin, N.H., wanted to know what Warren would do first if elected president and how she would fix America’s democracy.

Warren said she’d tackle corruption in Washington first and that she’d fight to ensure every vote is counted.

“One of the two parties think they are going to win, that they are going to hold onto power by keeping citizens from voting,” Warren said. “That is not how democracy is supposed to work. I want you to have a voice in Washington that is every bit as loud as any billionaire in this country.”