Warren Touts Anti-Corruption Plans, Platform Inclusivity In Final N.H. Push

Feb 7, 2020

Elizabeth Warren at a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire
Credit Allegra Boverman | NHPR

With just days left in her final campaign push in New Hampshire, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is trying to win over voters with a promise to unite the Democratic Party.

Warren has a lot of plans, but arguably, her most central is the one to fight corruption and curtail lobbying in Washington.

"Here’s the good news: I have the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate," Warren told the crowd at a town hall in Derry Thursday. "Here’s the bad news: we need the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate."

With so many New Hampshire voters still not sure whom they'll be voting for, Warren is pitching this anti-corruption plan as part of a larger vision of uniting the party and the country.

"This is about making this country work for the rest of us," she said. "We’re all in this fight. We’ll break up the influence of money; that’s where we’ll start."

To do well in next week’s primary, Warren needs to break through to voters still on the fence. Allison Baker, of Derry, has been canvassing for Warren for a while and said she meets voters like that all the time.

"Even last weekend, about 50 percent of voters were undecided, between maybe one or two candidates," she said.

'Julian Castro was one of the first to push for universal pre-K funded federally. That is now part of our campaign. Kamala Harris on reproductive freedom, a great idea on how we should pre-screen what the states are doing to take away women's rights...is now energized and in our campaign.'

And many of those, she added, are deciding between Warren and more moderate candidates. Her argument to win them over: That Warren’s anti-corruption plan fixes the gridlock in D.C.

"I think that’s really what you have to start with, is going after the corruption, because with that still in place you can’t get any other things done," Baker said.

Just a few feet behind Baker, 60-year old Lise Bofinger, of Concord, was on her way out the door. She said she liked Warren, but, "I am not decided, for the first time in my career as a voter in New Hampshire, and I’ve been a voter in New Hampshire since I was 18 years old."

Bofinger said she wants to vote for Warren, but is worried she wouldn’t win in the general election. Her husband, Dave Conant, is an independent and a self-described moderate.

"I want to see someone bring the nation together," he said.

Conant said he was more impressed by Warren than he expected to be, but he’s not sure she’s a unifier.

"I see change as very hard for this country," he said. "And myself - I put myself in that. I’m looking for someone moderate that can bring in both sides, rather than fighting their way through it."

So, Conant and his wife left the Warren rally as they arrived: undecided.

I asked Warren what her pitch is to these voters who are still on the fence.

"Electability is about who can win," she said. "And something we all have to understand right now is that's going to mean having all parts of our party together, not two sides at war with each other. It's pulling all of our party together and pulling in Independents and Republicans. The way to do that is not by lining up the old left-right talking points."

She also said her talking points - particularly her anti-corruption plan - are ideas many people can get behind:

"When I'm in a room full of people here in New Hampshire, including a lot of Republicans in the room, and I talk about corruption in the system - how if there's an issue that matters to you and a decision to be made in Washington, understand that decision has been influenced by money - people all around the room nod yes," she said.

At town halls, questions often emerge about Warren's Medicare for All plan, which she released in November after criticism from other candidates. Canvassers I've spoken with said this is a sticking point for undecided voters, with some still confused about Warren's proposed transition to Medicare for All. Warren said she would focus on finding immediate solutions to lower people's healthcare costs, including offering a new public option.

"Part of this is that we pass a law, and we can do this with 50 votes, and we let people try it," Warren said. "So to everyone under the age of 18 it would be free, for families making less than $50,000 a year, it would be free; everyone else would pay a modest price. No one's forced into it. But it let's let people try it and see what it's like to have health care where there's nobody that stands between you and your doctor or nurse practitioner or mental health professional. And then when (the estimate is) tens of millions of people have tried it, then we vote. That's what we do in a democracy. I think we'll go to Medicare for all, because I think most people are going to like it. But at each step along the way, we get help to people who need it."

Since returning from Iowa, Warren has touted the support of former staff and volunteers for candidates who polled poorly in New Hampshire before stepping out of the race. Warren said it was part of her campaign's efforts at unity and inclusion.

"It's the reminder that we're building an open, inclusive campaign that welcomes everybody in and that grows and learns from the energy of new people and new ideas. Julian Castro was one of the first to push for universal pre-K funded federally. That is now part of our campaign. Kamala Harris on reproductive freedom, a great idea on how we should pre-screen what the states are doing to take away women's rights, powerfully important, is now energized and in our campaign," Warren said.

Voters will likely hear more from Warren in the coming days about her ability to gather support from different corners of the party and the country. And the question is whether that will translate into votes on Primary Day.