Truth or consequences: Harris campaigns in N.H.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif, signs a guest book and wooden eggs during her visit to Saint Anselm College Tuesday.

MANCHESTER – Without mentioning his name, Kamala Harris drew a sharp contrast between herself and President Trump Tuesday morning in a speech at Saint Anselm College.

This was the first official visit of the junior senator from California since January when she officially announced her campaign to run for the Democratic nomination for president.

She has been criticized for waiting weeks to travel here and before she even started her speech someone asked if she is committed to campaigning New Hampshire.

“I plan to campaign hard here,” she said and spend time with leaders “who challenge me.”

At the college’s Politics & Eggs breakfast, Harris built her talk around truth, in contrast to the president, for whom falsehoods have become a part of his political identity.

Truth is essential for a trusting relationship between people and their government, she said, but “speaking truth can make people uncomfortable.”

The truth about the economy is an example, she said, because some say it is doing great, but it is not working for most people. She called for a tax break. for families whose income is less than $100,000, because working and middle class families’ financial lives are precarious, and data shows 40 percent of the population do not have the savings to cover a $400 emergency and most who are making minimum wage can’t afford a one-bedroom apartment.

“We are not directing sufficient resources to education,” the senator said. Teachers are working two jobs, sometimes three, and they are buying classroom supplies out of their own pocket.

We pretend we care about education, she said, “but not so much about other people’s children.”

Harris, who is 54, served as the 32nd attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017, and she said there is a lot of room for criminal justice reform and she called the war on drugs a failure.

The senator was in Portsmouth Monday night, where she said the rising seas of climate change are posing a serious threat.

“I grew up around people whose whole purpose” was to use science to make people’s lives better,” she said, deploring the disrespect for science among some members of Congress.

The changing future of American jobs is another unpleasant truth this country is not facing, she said.

“We are in the midst of an industrial revolution, and we are not preparing the work force” to take 21st century jobs.

During a question and answer session, Harris was asked about funding infrastructure, preventing another government shutdown and immigration control.

There is no question, she said, that recent tax cuts – “a trillion dollar burden on the American taxpayer” – must be repealed.

And America’s “150-year-old infrastructure” is holding back people’s productivity and investing in roads and bridges will create jobs and offer a good return on investment.

Another critical piece of infrastructure is elections, she said, and all polling places should have paper ballots. Russia interfered with the 2016 election, she said, and “Russia can’t hack pieces of paper.”

The packed audience at The New England Council’s Politics & Eggs breakfast gave her a standing ovation. The biggest applause was came when she asked for better teacher compensation and also when she called President Trump’s border wall a “vanity project” and an abuse of power.

Harris supports Medicare for all, substance abuse and mental health treatment on demand and more support for in-home medical care.

She is one of several Democrat presidential hopefuls in New Hampshire this week, including New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

Another California Democrat, U.S. Rep Eric Swalwell, will be at a Politics & Eggs breakfast Monday.

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

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