On the trail: Sestak concentrating on N.H. after storming ‘the beachhead of Iowa’

  • Retired three-star Vice Admiral Joe Sestak spoke at the New Hamshire Democratic Party Headquarters this week. —Courtesy

For the Monitor
Published: 9/12/2019 4:58:45 PM
Modified: 9/12/2019 4:58:35 PM

Retired three-star Vice Admiral Joe Sestak emphasized that military logistics dictated that he concentrate on Iowa – the state that kicks off the presidential nominating calendar – before campaigning in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, which votes second.

Sestak explained that job number one after launching his long-shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination on June 23 was to “secure the beachhead of Iowa.”

“Then we move off the beach and we begin to march,”  Sestak said in an interview with the Monitor.

That march took him to New Hampshire, for his first campaign swing in the Granite State since announcing his candidacy two and a half months earlier.

Sestak kicked off his six-day swing in the state by joining 18 of his rivals in the record-setting field of Democratic presidential candidates in addressing the crowd Saturday at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual convention. His trip included stops Sunday in Bow – where he greeted voters at the Merrimack County Democrats First-in-the-Nation picnic – and Wednesday in Concord – where met with activists at the state party’s headquarters.

Sestak spent three decades in the Navy and served as director of defense policy at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton. Sestak won election to Congress – representing a district in southeast Pennsylvania in 2006. He won re-election two years later before being narrowly defeated for the U.S. Senate in 2010 during the Republican Tea Party wave campaign cycle.

Sestak explained to the Monitor exactly why he’s running.

“There’s no way we can meet the challenges that America has to meet, whether it’s abroad or whether it’s here at home if we do not have someone who actually can unite us,” he said, citing his own global experience.

“If there’s ever a moment we need someone who can actually unite this country, it is today or we’re not going to meet those challenges abroad or pass policies at home and that’s why I got in,” he emphasized.

Sestak, who failed to qualify for July’s second round of Democratic presidential primary debates or this week’s third-round showdown, vowed to march on.

He compared his type of small-scale retail politicking to a former Georgia governor who won the White House in 1976 by campaigning door to door.

“That’s the way that Jimmy Carter did it,” Sestak stressed.

Ryan stops in Concord


Another Democratic presidential contender who failed to qualify for this week’s debate was Rep. Tim Ryan.

While the top 10 White House hopefuls were on the stage at the debate in Houston, Texas, the longtime congressman from northeast Ohio – who’s been a frequent visitor in New Hampshire the past two years – was in Concord.

Ryan headlined a candidate forum Thursday night at UNH Law, his alma mater. Later, he was expected to do some retail politicking, greeting patrons at a pub or two.

“Our strategy is the early states, focusing on grassroots campaigning,” Ryan told the Monitor. “We’re just doing it the old-fashioned way.”

Former Rep. John Delaney has made more stops in the Granite State than any other White House candidate since launching his bid more than two years ago.

Delaney also failed to make the stage at the third-round debate. He spent Thursday doing media interviews in New York City and Washington D.C. He told the Monitor “we’re very committed to the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire and I’m balancing campaigning in those states with making sure I get on national media.”

Warren proposes to boost Social Security

Hours before the debate kicked off, one of the top-tier candidates released a new proposal that would extend the solvency of Social Security by nearly two decades

“It’s getting harder to save enough for a decent retirement,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on Thursday morning, unveiling a plan which would also increase monthly Social Security benefits by $200 per month for every current and future beneficiary.

The Massachusetts Democrat touted her proposal as “the biggest and most progressive increase in Social Security benefits in nearly half a century.”

Warren said that the “typical Social Security benefits today are quite small,” noting the average beneficiary receives $1,354 a month, or $16,248 a year. Nearly 64 million Americans are Social Security beneficiaries.

“And here’s the even scarier part: unless we act now, future retirees are going to be in even worse shape than the current ones,” she stressed.

Warren’s proposal also calls for updating what she describes as “outdated rules to further increase benefits for lower-income families, women, people with disabilities, public-sector workers and people of color.”

The populist senator – who has released one progressive policy proposal after another this year as she runs for the White House – explained she’d pay for with revenues from her plan to tax the wealthiest Americans.

According to Warren’s campaign, 305,855 Granite Staters receive Social Security benefits.

The campaign noted that retired workers in New Hampshire would see their average benefit increase to $21,194 a year from $18,794 a year under the current system. And they spotlighted that disabled Granite State workers would see their average benefit increase to $17,660 a year from $15,260  a year.

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