Actor Baldwin speaks at Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner; stresses importance of midterm, 2020 election

MANCHESTER – Roberta Woolfson was ready for a good belly laugh. The Milford resident was sitting with a group of friends Sunday night at the state Democratic Party’s Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner, waiting for the speaking program to begin.

The highlight of the evening was the appearance of the keynote speaker, comedian-actor Alec Baldwin.

Woolfson’s friend, Mike Tule, worried if the laughs would be worth it – would Baldwin be further evidence that the Democratic party is a party of celebrities.

“What I want to know is – is he going to run for president?” Tule said. “People don’t show up in New Hampshire for nothing.”

As it happened, Baldwin, who is most famous for his impersonations of President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, came to the dinner without his orange wig and with few jokes.

Instead, he delivered a serious speech that focused on climate change and the necessity of Democrats wresting control of Congress and the presidency.

Baldwin, who is 60 and has four children under age 5 and a daughter who is 20, said he now sees life through the prism of his wife and children.

“Forget the novelty of what I do for a living,” he said. “I am a dad, and this election and the election of 2020 are the most consequential,” since Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in 1933.

Science is ignored by the Republican administration, he said, because campaign cash is the blood supply of the current system, and because of their ignorance and greed they are “exposing us to catastrophe and death. In an orderly way we need to overthrow the government of the United States under Donald Trump.”

Baldwin went on to describe “a small cadre of people” pushing a malicious immigration policy, mocking the idea of affordable health insurance, and praised the Affordable Care Act as “one of the most remarkable achievements of the Obama administration.”

This cadre of “destroyers, not builders,” he said, “shrug off gun violence, because they are in the pocket of the NRA, and scuttle the idea of the United States as a world leader.

“I believe in God,” he said, “and God told me to come here today, and his message is that there is only so much he or she can do. He wants mankind to meet him half way, to pick up the slack.

“Republicans are grabbing hold of the hands of a clock and halting change to a time they more easily understand. We know change is the only thing we can count on,” he said.

Urging people to answer a call to service, he said, “Let’s make America great again by making Donald Trump a casino operator again.”

If the audience – more than 800 people, according to organizers – was disappointed that Baldwin wasn’t funnier they didn’t show it and gave him a standing ovation.

Also speaking that night were the stars of the state Democrats – Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, and candidates Molly Kelly, for governor, and Chris Pappas, for the New Hampshire 1st Congressional District.

State party Chairman Ray Buckley announced the evening’s awards: Senate Democratic leader Donna Soucy and House Democratic leader Steve Shurtleff were honored with the Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt Awards, respectively, for excellence in fighting for social and economic justice. State Senate candidate (D-8) Jenn Alford-Teaster received the Emerging Leader Award for her leadership and commitment to public service, and State House Candidate (D-17) Safiya Wazir received the Kathy Sullivan Award for her demonstration of courage and leadership.

The annual fundraising gala was renamed the Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner this year. It had once been called the Jefferson-Jackson dinner and then named after Presidents John Kennedy and Bill Clinton.

Prior to the dinner, New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Wayne MacDonald sent out a statement regarding the fundraiser saying Democratic leaders should boycott it and denounce Baldwin for “homophobic and sexist remarks, as well as his bullying.”

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

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