MANCHESTER, N.H. — More than 900 Democrats heard presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren make an impassioned push for a multibillion-dollar federally funded universal child care program and promise to work for “little families” during a major state party fundraising event Friday night.
Warren, a second-term U.S. senator from neighboring Massachusetts, landed the keynote speaking role at the 60th New Hampshire Democratic Party 100 Club dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton in the state’s largest city. She used the high-profile platform to lay out her progressive agenda – focusing most of her 35-minute speech on universal child care, a proposal she unveiled in detail earlier this week.
It was a key appearance for Warren in the first-in-the-nation primary state just three days after another progressive neighbor, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, declared his candidacy for a second run for president.
Speaking to reporters after her speech, Warren was asked flatly if she will win the 2020 New Hampshire primary. “I’m sure going to try,” she answered, stopping short of predicting victory.
During the midterm cycle, Warren raised money for the New Hampshire party at a fundraiser in Boston and her political committee funded several party senior staff members and organizers.
Warren was among several Democrats who are now running for president, or about to run, who helped the NHDP have a successful 2018 midterm election cycle, in which the state Legislature and Executive Council flipped to Democratic control, and Democrats held the state’s two U.S. House seats.
With 920 people in attendance, NHDP Chair Raymond Buckley said the dinner raised about $400,000 for the party. The party said the total raised was more than the amount raised by the state Republican Party during the entire year of 2017.
In an address that made no mention of President Donald Trump, Warren, saying, “Let’s just get wonky for a minute here,” proposed expanding the current network of locally owned federally funded child care centers, preschool centers and in-home programs.
She told her own personal story of nearly being unable to pursue her legal career because of a lack of child care, saying that her “Aunt Bee” from Oklahoma came to her rescue and took care of her children.
“That story is part of my heart forever,” Warren said ” It tells a basic truth. Nobody makes it on their own. And without child care, millions and millions of American families simply won’t make it.”
“The federal government provides child care for all military families, and we have 900,000 kids in top notch Head Start programs,” she said. “This is about building out so every family has access – and keeping it affordable.” She said that child care workers would be paid salaries similar to those of public school teachers.
Under Warren’s plan, families with incomes of $50,000 or less would receive free child care. Those who make more would pay up to 7 percent of their incomes.
Warren said that a New Hampshire family of four with an annual income of $125,000 a year would pay no more than $6,000 a year for child care. The campaign said that a typical family in New Hampshire now pays about $21,000 a year for care of two children.
According to economists at Moody’s Analystics, the program would cost the federal government $70 billion a year more than it currently spends on child care programs or $700 billion over a 10-year period.
Warren would pay for the program with some of the proceeds of her proposed “wealth tax” on those she calls “ultramillionaires” — people with a net worth of $50 million or more. Her campaign has estimated the tax would generate $2.75 trillion in government revenue in 10 years.
“The ultra-millionaire tax I’ve been talking about that requires families with a net worth of $50 million or more to pay a 2 percent tax — that one change – one change – would bring in all the money we would need to completely cover the cost of this universal child care and early education plan – and still have a couple of trillion dollars left over,” Warren said.
“Think about that. Asking the 75,000 wealthiest families in this country to pay a little more would cover the cost of providing affordable and high-quality child care and early education options to every child in our country.”
Warren touched on other issues on her progressive agenda.
“Gun violence. Student loan debt. The skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs. The crushing cost of health care. A broken criminal justice system. Drugs and overdoses. Oil companies that have more say at the EPA than the millions of people who see with their own eyes the destruction coming with climate change” she said.
“Money affects nearly every decision in Washington, and I’m in this race to fight back.”
But, she said, her primary focus in her speech was child care, “because whether you have small children or not, we all have an interest in the future of this country, and that means we have an interest in investing in America’s children. Until we decide, until all of us decide – men and women, married and single, black and white, old and young – that we are willing to invest more in all our children, then we cannot build a country in which women have equal opportunity.”
“Yeah, it’s not easy to make big changes, but you don’t get what you don’t fight for. And I’m in this fight for working families,” Warren said. “Because working families are getting crushed. And it’s been that way for a very long time.
“I’m in this fight because I want a government that doesn’t just work for billionaires and giant corporations. I want a government that works for little families trying to make it from paycheck to paycheck.”
“When government works only for the wealthy and well-connected and when it abandons anyone who isn’t a big campaign donor and can’t hire an army of lobbyists, that is corruption – plain and simple. It’s time to fight back,” Warren said.
Warren’s speech came at an important moment in the early stage of the New Hampshire campaign. Earlier this week, Sanders entered the race promising to continue his “revolution” and citing his progressive agenda. Sanders won the 2016 first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
But this year’s race is far different, with about a dozen Democrats having declared candidacies or forming exploratory committees. The past 11 days alone saw 10 candidates or likely future candidates visit the state.
A win in the New Hampshire primary, to be held less than a year from now, is viewed as a “must” for both Warren and Sanders, given their proximity to and familiarity with the Granite State.
During her remarks to the crowd, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen praised Warren as “a force to be reckoned with. She is someone you want on your side when you’re in a fight, and make no mistake, we are in a fight for the soul of this country.”
Warren joined a long line of prominent speakers who have headlined past 100 Club events, many of whom were announced or potential presidential candidates, or leading national Democrats.
The 100 Club dinner has been held annually since 1959, when it was organized to promote the presidential candidacy of then-Sen. John F. Kennedy. In more recent years, it was named for the late Sen. Tom McIntyre and Shaheen, the first woman in the nation to serve as a governor and a U.S. senator.
According to the NHDP, since 1959, “every Democratic president and vice president has spoken at this legendary dinner.”
Last year, voting rights activist Jason Kander headlined the 100 Club as he considered a run for president. He later chose not to run.
Former Vice President Joe Biden drew a crowd of about 800 at the 2017 event. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley shared the stage at the 2016 dinner at the Southern New Hampshire University Arena. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was featured in 2015, while former Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin was the 2014 headliner.
In prior years, speakers have included presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.
The party Friday night honored two of own with awards.
Former state Sen. Molly Kelly, who was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018, was presented the McIntyre-Shaheen Legacy Award by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, while Jim Verschuren, chair of the Dover Democratic Committee and a former state legislator, was presented the Dunfey-Kanteres Award, which is named for two of the party’s most revered supporters, the late Walter Dunfey and Leo Kanteres.
Attendees also watched a video recounting the history of the 100 Club event produced by state Rep. Cole Riel of Goffstown.
The 100 Club event is one of two major fundraisers held by the state Democratic Party each year. The other is the Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner – formerly the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner and the Kennedy-Clinton Dinner – held in the late summer or fall. Last year, actor Alec Baldwin headlined the Roosevelt event.
Meanwhile, Warren plans to meet voters Saturday in Laconia, Plymouth and Nashua.
Aside from Warren, Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and California U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell will also be in the Granite State.