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Mar 25, 2015 7:30 PM

Steinhauser: NH progressives want Democratic presidential candidates to be bold


CONCORD - Some leading liberal Democratic politicians in New Hampshire and Iowa are urging Hillary Clinton and other probable Democratic presidential candidates to campaign on what a leading progressive group calls "big, bold economic-populist ideas."

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee on Wednesday hosted a conference call that included current state lawmakers and former members of Congress from New Hampshire and Iowa, the states that kick off the presidential primary process, as part of their "ready for boldness" campaign.

"Democrats cannot win in 2016 as incrementalists. We're going to have to be bold, and that's what the country's looking for," said former Rep. Paul Hodes, who represented New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District from 2007-11.

State Sen. David Watters, of Dover, said, "I'm particularly concerned that our party, the Democrats, talk about what we can do for working families, particularly women. We've got to raise the minimum wage. We've got to make sure there's health care and economic opportunity."

State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark of Portsmouth, in an interview with NH1 News, said that the push is "about making sure that we put forth a platform to let voters know what Democrats stand for moving forward in these elections. I don't think we did a good job for that in 2014."

"I think that's what this whole initiative is about, to craft a stronger more positive message as we're moving into the election season for 2016. And it's a message that applies to anyone who runs on the Democratic side, regardless of who it is," Clark said.

Also signing onto the "ready for boldness" push were former congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, former state senators Burt Cohen and William McCarthy, as well as 45 current state representatives and 11 former state representatives.

In total, more than 200 progressive leaders in New Hampshire and Iowa joined the PCCC effort.

The PCCC has long been a big supporter of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, and while it hasn't, other progressive organization have urged the liberal political rock star to run for the White House in 2016. But with Warren continuing to say no to a presidential bid, the PCCC appears to be changing tactics, in hopes of shifting Hillary Clinton a bit to the left.

The former secretary of state and senator from New York and first lady, is expected to announce as early as next month a second bid for the White House. She is considered the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination. But some progressives are not big fans of Clinton, believing she's too close to Wall Street and big business, and not a true supporter of a liberal agenda.

"What we're trying to do is incentivize Hillary Clinton and anyone else who may choose to run for president to campaign on many of the economic populism issues that Elizabeth Warren and others are championing," said PCCC co-founder Adam Green.

"Part of the political significance of this effort is if Hillary Clinton or others decide to be bold on issues like debt-free college or defending Social Security, we're showing she won't be along, she won't be out on a limb. There are hundreds and eventually thousands of political leaders who will stand with her, and voters across the country," Green added.

But state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, a big Clinton supporter disagrees.

"My advice to the Democratic presidential candidates is focus on the middle, where you belong. Where the typical Democrat is. Where Democratic principles stand firm and you're taken care of. That section of the Democratic Party. I think that's vitally important to anyone who's running for presidency, because it seems to me over the years that's the portion of the party we've forgotten," D'Allesandro told NH1 News.

Clark said the push by the PCCC is "not about Hillary Clinton.

But she added that "it's very important that we should have some other people running so that we can have an appropriate debate around these issues and the potential solutions. If we have no one running except Hillary Clinton, that does not provide an adequate platform to put forth our positions and our message."


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