We SUPPORT and ENDORSE JOHN EDWARDS, HILLARY CLINTON , Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, John Kerry , Wesley Clark and their SUPPORTERS AND OTHER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES




Monday, January 22, 2007

Dodd Makes Pitch in Cornish

Dodd Makes Pitch in CornishBy Carolyn LoriéValley News Staff WriterCornish -- As far as U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., is concerned the sense of hope that existed in the country the day George W. Bush was inaugurated as president has eroded over the last six years, and it's time to turn the tide.
“We can get it back,” Dodd told a roomful of Upper Valley voters yesterday afternoon. “I think the country is hungry for leadership.”
Dodd, who was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 and is now serving his fifth term in the U.S. Senate, wants to satisfy that hunger as the next president of the United States. He is one of a growing list of Democrats to announce his candidacy in recent weeks and the first to visit the Upper Valley as an official candidate.
Many have speculated that Dodd is a minor player in an arena of giants seeking the democratic nomination, including U.S. Sens. Hilary Clinton, D-N.Y., John Edwards, D-N.C., Barack Obama, D-Ill and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico. But Dodd told the approximately 50 people gathered in the home of New Hampshire Sen. Peter Burling, D-Cornish, that what he has over most other candidates is a long political record and a familiarity with what has to be done and how to do it.
“I think experience is going to matter,” said the 62-year-old, who is a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. “I've got a year to get my message out.”
Judith Kaufman of Cornish was eager to hear that message yesterday. “To me what's important is not who was handpicked by the DNC (Democratic National Committee) or what the polls say, but who can be the best president for this country and for the world right now,” said Kaufman, a self-employed economic development specialist. “I'm not looking for the favorite flavor of the month.”
Deb Beaupre, an elementary school teacher who lives in Meriden expressed similar sentiments. She said her support would go to the candidate whose campaign contained more substance than sound bites and that race and gender would not weigh heavily in her decision.
“I'm not going to vote for Hilary Clinton unless she changes dramatically,” said Beaupre. “I'm not going to vote for (Obama) just because he's a black person, and I’m not going to vote for him because he made one speech,” added Beaupre, who is black, in reference to the senator's now-famous keynote address at the 2004 National Democratic Convention.
While Beaupre and Kaufman said they were still undecided, Burling has endorsed Edwards, but said it was important that voters get to hear from all the candidates. He praised Iowa and New Hampshire for clinging to what he called the “model of retail politics.”
“People come here with a little bit of money and lot of gumption and a lot of vision,” he said. “It's the hear, the see, the smell of American politics. It just doesn't get any better than that.”
Standing before a fireplace worthy of a castle, Dodd reflected on his long record in the senate, saying he was most proud of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which he spent a decade fighting for, and the formation of the Children's Caucus, which he created in 1981.
He also talked about legislation he plans to introduce that would limit the President's ability to escalate the U.S. military involvement in Iraq without congressional approval. He said the Senate's intention to pass a resolution expressing disapproval of Bush’s surge plans falls far short of the mark.
“I think people expect us to do more than voice disapproval,” he said. “People who voted for change (in the mid-term elections) are going to be terribly disappointed if we don't do something more.”
Dodd said resolution in the war-torn country can only be had through diplomatic and political means, not more military involvement. He said the U.S. has isolated itself on the world stage and only deepened the crisis through its entanglement in Iraq.
“We need to stop digging the hole believing we are going to find a treasure,” said Dodd, adding that he would maintain a U.S. military presence in the Middle East just in case future involvement were necessary.
After Dodd spoke, New Hampshire Rep. Carla Skinder, D-Cornish, said she was impressed with his record, his understanding of people's everyday needs and his charisma. “He has a twinkle in his eye,” she said of the senator, who spoke without notes and at length on every topic presented to him. “He's charming -- in a good way.”
Skinder was among several public officials who attended yesterday's gathering, including Reps. Matthew Houde from Plainfield, John Cloutier from Claremont, Laurie Harding, D-Lebanon, Bernie Benn, D-Hanover and Grafton County Commissioner Mike Cryans.
Before coming to Cornish, Dodd gave a talk at Dartmouth College's Rockefeller Center earlier in the day and visited Dover, N.H., and Hooksett, N.H., on Saturday.
The white-haired senator joked often with the crowd yesterday, pointing out that he is the father of a 5-year-old daughter and a 22-month-old daughter. “I'm the only guy who gets mail from the AARP and the diaper service,” he said.
On a more serious note, Dodd said his older daughter, Grace, was born two days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and that he has often worried about what kind of world that awaits today's children.
“I want to be able to tell my daughters that I did my darnedest to get things right,” he said.
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