Wayne Messam, one of the most recent Democrats to join the 2020 presidential race, made his first trip to New Hampshire on Thursday night.
The mayor of Miramar, a suburb of Miami, arrived on his own to a Masonic lodge in Raymond to speak with 20 voters.
“What I am is a practical everyday person from a hardworking family that understands if Americans are given an opportunity and a chance, they’ll take advantage of it,” he said, before spending the next two hours mapping out his policies and taking questions.
Despite having no experience in national or state politics, Messam said his years as mayor of a racially diverse city - working on issues of climate change and gun control - had prepared him for the Oval Office.
If elected, he pledged to cancel all student debt, and to pay for it by rescinding President Trump’s 2017 corporate tax cuts.
“We have to have a tax code that bails out the American people,” he said.
Messam said his lack of experience in Washington, D.C. meant he had a bolder vision for the country’s future.
“I’m not working to get back to restoration and normalcy. That’s what you’re hearing from other candidates: ‘We got to beat Trump because we gotta get back to normalcy. Normalcy wasn’t working for Americans then,” he said. “Because they still didn’t have access to health care, wages weren’t adequate, and gun violence was still going on in our communities.”
Before leaving, Messam told voters his main goal was to gather enough donations and support in the polls to qualify for televised debates.
Washington outsiders Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg have also visited Raymond.
Michael DiTommaso, treasurer of the Raymond Democrats, helps organize the gatherings. An employee of a nearby lumberyard, 29-year-old DiTommaso said his main concern was economic equity.
“I want to hear [candidates] coming forward and saying ‘I support a living wage, I support health care, I support unions,’ DiTommaso said, “That they support the things Americans need to achieve the promise of equality.”
As DiTommaso rearranged tables and chairs in the lodge, Messam lingered to talk with the remaining three voters.
Then he left and climbed into his rental car. His next campaign stop is Detroit.