Events held at Smuttynose Brewery, Water Street Bookstore
By Erik Hawkins
Hampton Union, May 26, 2015
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks with employees during a tour of the Smuttynose Brewery on Friday in Hampton. [Jim Cole photo]
HAMPTON — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, began her day in the Seacoast Friday at Smuttynose Brewery, playing to the crowd of small business leaders gathered for the occasion.
"I want to be the small business president," Clinton said. "Let's make 'middle class' mean something again."
Before she sat down at the forum, Clinton took a 20-minute tour of the brewery with owner Peter Egelston. Clinton called the brewery "impressive."
When Egelston noted his beer is served even in Dublin, Ireland, Clinton said, “It’s a small world story.”
Clinton received a warm reception in the crowded warehouse stacked high with kegs as the strains of Miles Davis played and she joined Egelston and Joanne Francis, owners of Smuttynose Brewing, along with five other area business owners for a discussion on making small businesses successful.
Clinton's remarks were brief. She said although the national economy is "out of the ditch," the country still has to "stand up and get running again."
Clinton said small business owners' hard work and investments should pay off, and they should feel secure in saving for their children's college and their own retirement.
"The big businesses have a lot of advantages that you don't," she said.
Clinton also called for regulations to be loosened on community banks to ease lending to small businesses.
Francis, the brewery's co-owner, said it had been a "white-knuckle ride" securing loans and other money to start the brewery and open a new operations facility in 2014. "It was terrifying, to be honest with you," Francis said.
Panelist Charlie Cullen, of The Provident Bank, in his closing words with Clinton asked her to "please soften (the Dodd-Frank bill) just a little bit," then added, "I think now it's time for a Smutty!"
There were a few eyebrows raised when, while standing in front of prominently placed Smuttynose signs, Clinton began a remark by saying, "Here in Washington ..." The apparent gaffe went unremarked on at the time, though it began circulating quickly online through social media and news reports.
After greeting supporters and taking several brief questions from the press, Clinton departed for Exeter's Water Street Bookstore, for a grassroots organizing meeting.
When asked about the recent release of her State Department emails, Clinton said she was glad the emails from her controversial private server were being released, albeit slowly.
"It has been my request from the beginning that they release as many as possible," she said. "I also understand that there is a protocol being followed."
When asked her position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated by President Obama, which has drawn criticism from the political left and perceived to be conceived in secrecy, Clinton was not prepared to take a firm stand.
"I have some concerns about protecting American workers and a level playing field, as well as currency manipulation ... as I've said before, though, I will make up my mind — I will judge this when I see exactly what's in it," she said.
Clinton also said regarding the conflict in Iraq and the setbacks in the fight against Islamic State militants that, "at the end of the thought process, this has to be fought and won by the Iraqis. There is no role whatsoever for American troops on the ground beyond training the Iraqis."
At Water Street Bookstore in downtown Exeter, Clinton joined owner and town Selectman Dan Chartrand, along with other local Democratic activists and representatives including state Reps. Alexis Simpson and Marcia Moody, Selectwoman Nancy Belanger and Selectwoman Julie Gilman to continue her discussion of concerns facing small businesses.
Water Street filled quickly with supporters, including a group of Phillips Exeter Academy students, who said they were missing a scheduled sports photo in order to catch a glimpse of Clinton. Across the street, a handful of Clinton opponents gathered for a brief time holding signs that read, "Clinton Lied. Four heroes died," and Tea Party slogans, but appeared to disperse quickly.
Chartrand said after the event that Clinton's message about expanding access to capital for small business owners resonated strongly with him, and that although he only truly became politically active in 2012, he was "now a canvasser, through and through."
"I've fallen in love with campaigning," he said.
"What I love specifically is that she has a real focus in her economic plan for leveling the playing field for small businesses and community banks," he added. "That's a huge part of the reason I'm supporting her."