MANCHESTER — Medicare for All is a major issue for 36-year-old Miaka Provost, who was born with a heart condition and has tracked the proposals offered by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, progressive rivals in the Democratic fight for the presidential nomination.
In a middle school gym where Warren hosted a town hall event Saturday afternoon, Provost said she read that the Democratic presidential candidate had “back stepped on Medicare for All,” and wanted clarity.
“Let’s start with stating our values. Health care is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights,” Warren told Provost, then described parts of her $20-trillion-plus proposal, including plans to offer 135 million Americans full coverage at no cost during her first 100 days in office.
After the hourlong event, Provost, a Manchester resident, said she was persuaded to vote for Warren.
“She does have a good plan,” said Provost, who crocheted a shawl while listening to Warren speak. “I think she’s won my vote back.”
Warren’s return Saturday to New Hampshire marked her first visit since Nov. 13 when she filed to place her name on the ballot for the state’s Democratic presidential primary, the first such contest to be held in the 2020 race. More than 500 people attended the event at the Henry J. McLaughlin Middle School, according to the campaign.
Polls in early-voting states place Warren among the Democratic frontrunners along with Sanders of Vermont, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., who leads the pack in Iowa. The Democratic caucus there is set for Feb. 3.
The frontrunners advance toward elections in early-voting states with challenges from new competitors: billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who declared his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday, and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, who launched a late bid for the presidency earlier this month in Concord, N.H.
Speaking to reporters following the event, Warren weighed in on reports that Bloomberg purchased more than $30 million in television advertising.
“That just can’t be what our democracy is about,” Warren said. “I understand that rich people are going to have more shoes than the rest of us, they’re going to have more cars than the rest of us. They’re going to have more houses. But they don’t get a bigger share of democracy.”
Warren addressed the crowd while nursing a cold, a condition she blamed on “one hug too many,” and drank from a white mug during part of the town hall.
“Nevertheless, I persist,” she said.
Warren devoted about 15 minutes to telling her life story, describing her modest upbringing in Oklahoma, work as a public school teacher, having children, and getting a law degree.
She delved into her proposals for an “Ultra Millionaire” tax that targets the richest families in America and her plans to combat corruption.
The crowd rose to its feet when Warren discussed a constitutional amendment to protect voter rights and plans to combat voter suppression efforts, ban political gerrymandering, and overturn the 2010 Citizens United decision.
Dave Williams asked Warren from his seat in the bleachers how she would defend herself during a general election fight against attacks that she’s a socialist.
“I’ve made it clear a hundred zillion times. Check the videos. I believe in markets. I believe in what markets can do. I also want to be clear about this, markets without rules are theft,” she said.
To win the general election, Warren said Democrats can’t just attack President Trump.
“If we spend all our time talking about Trump, we’re going to have a hard time winning this,” she said. “We need to talk about what we stand for.”
Off the campaign trail, Trump has been in the spotlight during two weeks of televised House impeachment hearings that have examined whether the president abused the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden’s son Hunter for his role in a corrupt gas company in the country.
The hearings didn’t come up during the town hall event on Saturday, but earlier in the week, Warren reiterated a vow not to pick political donors as ambassadors during a televised debate in Atlanta with 10 Democrats.
Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, told House investigators that the president and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani explicitly sought a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine with a White House visit and military aid being held as leverage for political investigations of Democrats