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Candidates Cross Party Lines to Gather for 'No Labels' Convention in Manchester

Paige Sutherland/NHPR
Donald Trump was one of eight presidential candidates who spoke on Monday in Manchester.

Presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle shared the same stage for the first time at the No Labels convention in Manchester Monday. Speakers included GOP candidates Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

The conference was run by the nonprofit group No Labels, which works to encourage bipartisanship in Washington. The organization hopes to get Republicans and Democrats to work together on issues such as the federal debt, unemployment and social security.

Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR
Donald Trump told the press his experience as an international businessman shows he is willing to compromise and work across the aisle.

What brought the participants together Monday was a shared frustration with the current gridlock among federal lawmakers. 

“You know what I want, and what most of you want, is how about they just do something, do something,” said Christie.

Many of the candidates touted their ability to work across the aisle, saying they would bring the parties together if elected. 

“The word compromise is not a bad word to me, as a negotiator and having made deals all my life,” said Trump, pointing to his experience in international business.

After Trump's speech, he took a handful of questions from the crowd, including one from 18-year-old Lauren Batchelder of Cheshire, who questioned the candidate’s support for women.

“So maybe I am wrong, maybe you can prove me wrong, but I don’t think you are friend to women," Batchelder said, followed by loud cheers from the crowd.  

Trump responded: "I knew I shouldn’t have picked her. Alright, so let me give you that answer right now: I respect women incredibly." 

Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey skipped a speech and went right to questions from the crowd. He took more than a dozen questions.

Sanders, in his remarks, stressed the need for specifics.

“The challenges that we face today, if you include climate change, might be greater than in any time since the great depression. What we need are answers to the problems, not just campaign rhetoric,” Sanders said via teleconference.

Presidential hopefuls Ohio Gov. John Kaisch, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia and former Gov. George Pataki of New York also spoke.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan and Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who are likely to face-off in Ayotte’s reelection bid next year,  were also in attendance. This is the first major appearance the two candidates have had since Hassan announced she would run last week.

Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR
Sen. Kelly Ayotte fires up the crowd as she talks about her bipartisan efforts to address heroin epidemic.

Both candidates outlined their history of bipartisanship, with Hassan referencing last month’s compromise on the state budget and Ayotte pointing to her opposition to a GOP-led government shutdown.

“I think the hardest thing in politics is not standing up to the other side of the aisle or someone you disagree with who is in the other party; the hardest thing in politics is actually standing up to your own party and saying guess what this is what we need to do and this isn’t right,” Ayotte said followed by loud cheers.

Ayotte also mentioned her work on the state's heroin epidemic. 

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