By Nick Stoico, Executive Editor
NASHUA — For the first time since 2008, former secretary of state and senator from New York Hillary Rodham Clinton visited New Hampshire to stump for Democratic incumbents up for re-election in this midterm cycle.
Clinton — who participated in a Get Out The Vote rally at Nashua Community College on Sunday with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan — was last in the Granite State campaigning for her party’s presidential nomination in 2008.
Ann Kuster, who is up for re-election in New Hampshire’s second Congressional District, was also in attendance and shared remarks before Clinton, Shaheen and Hassan took the stage.
Clinton expressed her appreciation to Granite Staters for their support during her 2008 run, which was ultimately unsuccessful. New Hampshire was one of the 21 continental states Clinton won in the primary.
“During the darkest days of my campaign,” she said, “you lifted me up, you gave me my voice back and you taught me so much about grit and determination, and I will never forget that.”
Clinton, who will likely make another run for the presidency in 2016, spent her 20-minute speech discussing several hot topics in this election cycle but focused most of her talk on issues surrounding women’s rights.
She said it is unacceptable and surprising that a woman’s right to “make [her] own reproductive health care decisions” is a debate in this election cycle.
Clinton also stressed her frustration on the debate around equal pay for equal work.
“Women’s rights here and around the world are like the canary in the mine,” Clinton said to the gymnasium filled with hundreds of Democratic supporters. “You start taking away, you start limiting women’s rights; who is next?”
New Hampshire made history in 2012 when it elected Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster to Congress, making it the first state to have an all-female delegation in Washington.
Shaheen and Hassan delivered their remarks before Clinton took the microphone. Clinton said it is critical New Hampshire voters keep Shaheen in the Senate and Hassan in the governor’s office.
Clinton touched on Shaheen’s history of working in New Hampshire politics within in the state and in D.C., quietly alluding to Scott Brown’s recent jump from Massachusetts politics to New Hampshire. Brown won Ted Kennedy’s vacant Senate seat in 2010 after the long-time Massachusetts senator passed away in 2009. He lost his re-election in 2012 to Elizabeth Warren.
“Together, we will make Scott Brown the first person in history to lose a Senate election in two different states,” Shaheen said.
Shaheen was the first female governor elected in New Hampshire when she first ran in 1996. She won re-election bids in 1998 and 2000 before stepping back from state politics to make a run at the U.S. Senate in 2002, an unsuccessful race she lost to John E. Sununu.
She ran against Sununu again in 2008 and won the seat.
“Jeanne fights just as hard for you in Washington as she did for you in Concord,” Clinton said.
While this election cycle is anticipated to be a successful one for Republicans as President Barack Obama’s approval ratings continue to slide, New Hampshire Democrats hope Clinton’s visit will reignite Democrats around the state to get to the polls today.
Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party made opening remarks and warmed up the audience. Other state Democrats who were present and spoke were State House Speaker Terie Norelli, State Senators Peggy Gilmour and Bette Lasky and Executive Councilor Deb Pignatelli.
Republicans, including Hassan’s opponent Walt Havenstein and Brown held a rally of their own in Manchester Sunday evening.
Today, voters will make their decision.
The wait is over.