Senator Elizabeth Warren(D) of Massachusetts opened the New Hampshire leg of her 2020 presidential campaign last weekend in Manchester and Concord.
Though she is one of the loudest critics of President Trump (and she is one of his favorite targets) their messages to voters are similar. Both Warren and Trump claim they are fighting a system set up to favor the rich and powerful on behalf of the average hard-working American. The differentiating factor may be empathy.
While Trump frames his argument in personal terms, Warren argues she is fighting because she understands the daily struggle of the average American and has lived it herself. She told a crowd at Manchester Community College she is in this fight out of gratitude. She has succeeded beyond her own dreams and wants to make sure others have the same opportunity.
Many see Warren's candidacy as an extension of the 2016 campaign of Bernie Sanders. As a woman, and as a candidate firmly in the Democratic Party, perhaps she is more electable.
At this first rally in Manchester, there was a sense the room was not fully on board. They like Warren and admire her. They like what she had to say about the issues they care about, but it is too early to go all-in. An editor for the New Hampshire Union-Leader remarked this week that New Hampshire voters like to "meet each candidate three times," before making a decision.
The larger feel I took away from last weekend is how motivated Democrats are to replace President Trump. For many, the 2016 campaign never ended. More than 500 came out on a Saturday afternoon - with temperatures in the teens - to volunteer for Warren or at least hear her message. Many see the last presidential election as either a stolen election or the result of making the wrong choice in Hillary Clinton as the party's nominee.
Warren, several times, explained to her audience why she is "in this fight." The imagery of fighting for average hard-working families is a staple of Democratic Party rhetoric, but the crowd seemed much more interested in any specifics she had to offer.
It is not enough to have an enemy or a bad guy to go after. You also need a direction to take once the bad guy has been vanquished. Voters in 2020 may be looking more for a plan than someone to blame. A plan that helps them. A way out. The requirement for a plan may be one of the results of the Trump presidency which seems to be dominated only by fighting.
© Dean Pagani 2019