It may be 2017, but it feels like 2020 this weekend in New Hampshire

For the Monitor
Sunday, November 05, 2017

We’ve got more than two years to go until the next New Hampshire presidential primary, but it felt a lot closer this weekend as one announced and two potential Democratic White House contenders flocked to the Granite State.

The declared candidate, Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, spent Saturday afternoon canvassing for Joyce Craig, the Democratic candidate in Tuesday’s Manchester mayoral election. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio headlined a Manchester Democrats dinner on Saturday night, and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts helped energize Nashua Democrats as he spoke at a canvass kickoff.

“No cat and mouse games. I’m all in and I’m running for president,” Delaney told the Concord Monitor as he knocked on doors in Manchester’s Rimmon Heights neighborhood.

“I think that kind of honesty is what voters are looking for. I think they’ve had enough of the kind of politics where people aren’t honest or transparent or hiding their motives,” added the three-term congressman, who represents western Maryland and parts of Montgomery County.

Delaney announced in July that he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2018, and instead would go all in in the wide open race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I just think this is what I want to do. I think I’m the right person for the job. I have the right vision,” he said.

When this reporter pointed out that John Delaney’s far from a household name in New Hampshire, the congressman quickly shot back “we’re going to change that.”

The weekend trip was Delaney’s third to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state since announcing his White House bid, and he returns in two weeks to co-headline, along with Ryan and Rep. Grace Meng of New York, a major New Hampshire Democratic Party fundraising dinner.

Delaney touted that he’ll be a frequent visitor in the Granite State going forward.

“We’re going to shoot for two times a month between now and the end of 2018 and probably more after that. ... listening to voters, giving them a chance to know who I am, how I’ve lived my life, what I’ve done with my life, where I come from and how I think about things, and most importantly how I think about the future,” Delaney explained.

In a nod to his party’s liberal wing, Delaney said “my instincts are progressive in terms of the policies I want to achieve and the things that I think are important for our citizens.”

But he added that “I do believe in the power of the private economy, I do believe in the power of innovations, in the power of market forces.”

Delaney said he thinks “the central question in the election in 2020 will be how do we bring a divided country together and I think that’s a message progressives will embrace.”

Delaney, 54, was raised in northern New Jersey by working class parents. He found success as a banking entrepreneur and is worth nearly $90 million, making him one of the wealthiest members of the U.S. House. He says he’s willing to invest some of that money in his White House bid.

“I want to make sure we run a really good campaign and get our message out to voters and get an opportunity to meet voters. And as I’ve done with my races for Congress, I’ve been willing to invest in my campaign to make sure that happens,” Delaney said.

Delaney started his day in New Hampshire meeting with state party and labor leaders. After canvassing, he spoke at a house party in Walpole. On Sunday he’s canvassing for Democratic candidates in Nashua’s municipal elections.

The Congressman already has a small presidential campaign staff, and was accompanied by three aides (including one with a professional video camera) as he made the rounds in Manchester’s Ward 12.

While Delaney was in Walpole on Saturday night, Ryan was speaking at the Manchester Democrats ‘Countdown to Victory’ dinner at the Puritan Conference Center.

Earlier, Ryan told the Monitor that he’s “pretty focused on trying to help get the party squared away around the country and I think that part of our problem as a party is we get enamored with presidential elections, we’re always looking at the next move and I think we got to stay focused on local races like this one in Manchester, these governor races, that’s how we’re going to rebuild the party.”

Ryan, who unsuccessfully challenged Nancy Pelosi last year for House Democratic Leader, is a rising star in the party. The 44-year old eight-term congressman who represents much of northeast Ohio, including Youngstown and Akron.

The eight-term congressman highlighted that to win back the House in 2018, Democrats “gotta be in places we don’t always go to.”

Emphasizing wages, growth, and economic opportunity for all, Ryan said “I plan on going to congressional districts around the country campaigning for people who I think have a good opportunity to pick up seats for us.”

And he predicted Democrats will be successful “if we run on a big, broad, economic message that upgrades the economic system.”

Ryan said that any decision on running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination would come after the 2018 midterms.

The Saturday stop was Ryan’s second in New Hampshire this year, and he headlined a major Democratic party event in Iowa a month ago.

“I want to shape the national agenda for the party and as I’ve said, I only go where I get invited to go,” Ryan explained. “If I get invited, I try to accommodate and go and be helpful and it tends to get a little more play if it’s Iowa and New Hampshire.”

Ryan, who graduated in 2000 from the University Of New Hampshire School Of Law, which at that time was the Franklin Pierce University Law School, says he plans to be back next year to help campaign for Democrats in the state’s congressional elections.

“I’ll be back up for sure. I love coming back,” he added.

Earlier Saturday Moulton stopped in Nashua, energizing Democratic activists at a canvass kick-off.

Moulton made his way up Interstate 93 to the Gate City after meeting with Veterans Affairs Secy. Dr. David Shulkin at an event at the VA facility in Bedford, Massachusetts. The two-term congressman who represents the north shore of Massachusetts is a highly decorated marine who served four tours in Iraq and has multiple degrees from Harvard University.

Moulton told the Monitor that “the bottom line is our veterans deserve the best health care in the world and if the veterans of New Hampshire are better served by a full service VA, that’s what we should provide.”

Moulton, 39, said “my first order of business is that I’m serving my district and the constituents of Massachusetts, but one thing I hear when I do town halls in my district is that they want me to get out and make sure Democrats are winning across the country.”

Moulton promised to return to the Granite State.

“So you can be sure I’ll be up in New Hampshire and also supporting veterans across America. I have a number of veterans, 12 so far, that I’ve endorsed for running in tough swing districts, exactly the districts that we need to win to take back the House. And these are truly inspiring leaders so I’m proud to support them,” he added.

But asked if he’s considering a bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination, Moulton once again said “I’m not running for president.”

And he said his stop in Nashua “shouldn’t spark speculation. I’ve been all over the country supporting veterans and encouraging veterans and recruiting veterans to run for office so we can win back the House. And frankly I think that talking about 2020 before we’ve won in 2018 is really taking our eye off the ball. If we can’t figure out how to win in 2018, we’re going to be in dire straits for 2020 anyway.”

Answering another question about 2020 speculation, Moulton was firm, declaring “I’m not considering it. I’m flattered by the mention. I appreciate that.”