LONDONDERRY — A big crowd gathered in a pastoral field at Mack’s Apples to hear what presidential hopeful Kamala Harris had to say.
The U.S. senator from California spoke last Friday afternoon in a town hall-style visit, offering her take on the nation’s challenges and what she wants to accomplish if she wins the White House in November 2020.
Derry Town Councilor Joshua Bourdon introduced Harris, who arrived to the outdoor rally with the crowd seated amid festive pumpkins, hay bales, American flags, and the backdrop of a pond and willowy trees.
Once she took the stage, Harris thanked Andy Mack Sr., for his generosity hosting her visit at his historic farm.
“We were hanging out before eating apples,” Harris said, adding she learned a lot about the Mack family history dating back centuries.
For Harris, a former California prosecutor, attorney general and now U.S. senator, there is one common denominator that she feels when she meets her supporters.
“One reason for sure why we are all here, we love our country,” she said. “And I arrive with you, today, with a great sense of optimism.”
That optimism, Harris said, sparks from her desire to make this country work for all people.
Harris told her own story of how her mother was small in stature, but big on strength and commitment to treat others equally and with respect.
“My mother was tough,” the senator said. “If you ever came home complaining, she would ask ‘What are you going to do about it?’ So I decided to run for president of the United States.”
Harris also took on President Donald Trump, saying his slogan of “Make America Great Again” is a rally cry to take the country backward.
“He was talking about going back to something, but what?” Harris asked. “Before the Fair Housing Act? Roe v. Wade? We aren’t going back.”
Trump’s tax bill was also a blow to those middle class families needing the most support, Harris said, but a financial boost for some big corporations.
If elected president, Harris said she would repeal Trump’s tax bill on day one.
Her own plan would give families in a certain income level to receive up to a $6,000 a year tax credit.
Harris also said if elected, she would expect Congress to put a bill on her desk within the first 100 days to address gun violence. If that doesn’t happen, she would take executive action.
“We need responsible gun control, universal background checks and a ban on assault-style weapons,” she said. “In the America we believe in, our babies should never have to go to school and endure a drill during which they are taught to crouch in a corner or hide in a closet.”
Teachers in America should also be paid fairly, Harris said, adding she would make a federal investment in closing the teachers pay gap.
Harris also believes in universal Medicare for all, either private or public options, saying access to healthcare should be a right, not “just for those who can afford it.”
Many who came to hear Harris were interested in her message. Others kept an open mind.
Mary Eisner, a Democratic state representative from Derry, said she appreciated hearing candidates in person, and has already followed several that have come to this area.
Eisner said she still has an open mind, but Harris has made her “top tier” of favorites.
“It’s best to see them in person,” Eisner said. “You see what kind of person they are, they have time to explain their positions.”
Joanna Davis, 15, attended Harris’ rally with her sister, Eleanor, 13, and her mother, Jennifer.
Joanna felt Harris was a strong woman that would make a great president.
“She’s trying to get people to make solutions,” the teen said. “It’s time for a change.”
For Jennifer Davis, she recalled taking her two daughters to the voting booth in November 2016, asking them to watch her fill in her “bubble” on the ballot. Her vote outcome was not what she expected.
“I said to my daughters, ‘Tomorrow a woman will be president,’” Jennifer said. “But it was shocking.”
She added that Harris is a very strong candidate and is favoring giving her the vote.
“But I’ll be behind any nominee,” she said.
Gina Hutchinson of Derry also follows the candidates coming to the area.
For her, Harris is a smart pick.
“I think she’s a bright woman,” Hutchinson said. “Very well spoken. And it’s wonderful to live in New Hampshire and see all these people.”
Before fielding questions, Harris left the audience with a few thoughts about her fight for the White House and the current occupant. Harris said she realizes many people have been quite despondent since Trump won the election.
“He betrayed a lot of people,” Harris said. “It’s time to turn the page. We must successfully prosecute against four more years of Donald Trump. I think it will take a prosecutor to do it. And we’ve got quite a rap sheet.”
Harris said she’s ready for the fight.
“This is a fight born out of the love of our country, this is a fight we will win,” Harris said.