NEWPORT — Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren greeted a packed venue of local voters last night at the Newport Opera House, taking the stage with her signature song, “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton, playing from the speakers overhead. An estimated crowd of 325 were in attendance, according to her campaign team.
Warren, one of the top three polling candidates for the Democratic party nomination, shared personal anecdotes about her background and laid out her core goals and primaries as a presidential candidate, before fielding questions from the audience and holding a meet-and-greet.
In an interview before the event, Warren discussed her ambitious tax plan, which would employ a 2 percent tax on holdings starting at $50 million or more and a 3 percent tax starting at $1 billion or more. She said her plan would generate enough revenue to fund universal childcare and pre-kindergarten programs, put $800 billion into public education, universal tuition-free college, $50 billion into historically black colleges and universities and cancel college loan debt for 95 percent of the country’s population.
“For me, this is a statement of our values,” Warren said. “Is it more important to leave [2 percent of wealth] with the richest, one-tenth of one percent in this country? Or do we use that money to invest in an entire generation of young Americans?”
Warren said that her plan is about providing structural change and opportunity for the next generation.
“It makes me optimistic about what we can do,” she said.
However, the former consumer protection advisor to President Barack Obama committed that her first priority, if elected president, would be to “battle back the corruption in Washington.”
“That opens the door to do so much that we need to do on climate, on structural change in our economy and making this country work,” she said. “Not just for people at the top, but making it work for everyone.”
Warren, arguably among the strongest advocates for banking and Wall Street reform following the 2007 market collapse, said that of all the candidates, she has the largest and most robust plan to tackle the influence of money in Washington.
“The good news is that I have the biggest anti-corruption bill since Watergate,” she said. “The bad news is we need the biggest anti-corruption bill since Watergate.”
Warren said the influence of money in Washington goes far beyond campaign financing. The corruption also comes in the form of lobbyists, paid think-tanks, studies and people paid by special interest groups to deliver testimonies to Congress.
One initiative in her plan would prohibit anyone who served in Congress, as president or headed any executive cabinet or agency from becoming a lobbyist once out of office, preventing people from profiting off their contacts they made while serving the public.
“The American people have a right to insist that their public servants work for the American people, not for the industry that can pay them the most.”
The senator also reflected on her close relationship with Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died of heart complications in the early hours of Thursday, Oct. 17. Elijah and Warren had worked closely on Capitol Hill, including this past May on an ambitious plan to end the opioid crisis.
“I’ve known Elijah for years and years,” Warren said. “Back during the financial crisis when the Republicans were fighting against the consumer agency, Elijah was the champion in the House of Representatives, willing to fight over and over for people who were cheated. Later he and I would hold joint hearings on retirement security, funding public schools, the housing crisis, all the issues that touch people’s lives every day... I really miss him.”
The candidate has suspended all events in New Hampshire for today, Oct. 25, to pay her respects as Elijah lies in state.
This town hall in Newport, as well as her event at the Dartmouth College BEMA in Hanover earlier in the day, marked Warren’s 19th visit to the Granite State since first announcing her bid for president on Dec. 31, 2018.