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Presidential candidates pitch plans to N.H. Dems

MANCHESTER — Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke of Texas told those assembled for Saturday’s New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention that he would impose a mandatory buyback program to confiscate all AR-15 and AK-47 rifles – and “sign into law a reparations bill.”

These were certainly not the only ambitious ideas discussed by the numerous Democratic presidential hopefuls who took the stage at Southern New Hampshire University Arena. For example, Bernie Sanders of Vermont promised that during his administration, no public school teacher in America would earn less than $60,000 per year.

“We will pass a Medicare for All, single-payer health care system,” Sanders added. “We will bring major reforms to a broken and racist criminal justice system.”

Sanders won the 2016 New Hampshire Democratic Primary with more than 60% of the vote. He received a strong reception from conventioneers, but did not get the sustained standing applause given to Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“This is our moment to dream big and fight hard,” Warren said. “There is a lot at stake and people are scared. But we can’t choose a candidate we don’t believe in because we’re scared.”

Warren also discussed some her spending plans, which she said she would fund with a “wealth tax.” This would be imposed on those who have accumulated wealth in excess of $50 million.

“Your first $50 million free and clear,” Warren said. “But your $50 millionth and first dollar, you’ve gotta pitch in two cents and two cents for every dollar after that. Two cents.”

Without referencing any other candidates by name, Warren said she believes the nature of her campaign differs from those run by some of her competitors.

“I don’t go behind closed doors to fancy fundraisers with corporate CEOs and millionaires,” Warren said.

Another candidate, Cory Booker of New Jersey, said he hopes Democrats will look for more in a candidate than someone who can defeat President Donald Trump.

“We gotta beat Donald Trump. But beating Donald Trump is the floor it is not the ceiling,” Booker said. “Beating Donald Trump gets out of the valley, but it does not get us to the mountaintop. I want to go to the mountaintop.”

Pete Buttigieg of Indiana was more direct.

“Every time we’ve tried to play it safe with established and Washington-tenured figures, every single time we’ve come up short,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg also took on Gov. Chris Sununu for his recent veto of a bill that would have increased New Hampshire’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $12 per hour.

“That is wrong,” Buttigieg said.

Though no other candidate mentioned the name of race front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, it seems Warren, Booker and Buttigieg were making veiled references to him with their comments.

Biden was actually the first presidential contender to speak on Saturday.

“I refuse to postpone, one more day, taking back this country,” Biden said.

“We cannot, and I will not, let this man be reelected president of the United States of America,” Biden added in reference to Trump. “We choose truth over lies.”

Julian Castro of Texas is seeking to become the nation’s first Latino president. He said he looks forward to telling Trump “adios,” which is Spanish for goodbye.

“I want you to help us live free from Donald Trump,” Castro said in making a play on the New Hampshire motto, “Live Free or Die.”

One day after tasting the produce at Mack’s Apples in Londonderry, California’s Kamala Harris took the stage in Manchester. She cited the fact that Trump won Rust Belt states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan in 2016 by promising to reinvigorate manufacturing.

“The only thing he has manufactured is chaos,” Harris said of Trump.

Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said someone recently told her joke: “What is the difference between Donald Trump and Greenland?”

“Greenland is not for sale,” Klobuchar quipped.

“I, for one, am tired of the whiner in the White House,” she added.

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary is currently scheduled for Feb. 11, although Secretary of State Bill Gardner reserves the right to change the date if he sees a reason to do so.