MANCHESTER, N.H. – Once upon a time it was a barbershop. Now it is the Manchester headquarters of a presidential candidate.
Andrew Yang greeted supporters and members of the media on Tuesday as his campaign christened its new Manchester office at the corner of Amory and Laval streets.
Former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand noted that this was the campaign’s eighth office in New Hampshire, with more on the way. He also noted that Yang has now come to the state 22 times.
That fact was echoed later when Yang reminded the crowd of their importance, citing that one New Hampshire voter has approximately 1,000 times the influence over the presidential election compared to an average California voter.
“You look around this room today, this is the equivalent of a football stadium of Californians,” he joked. “That’s why every political candidate is here stumping for your support and your vote.”
Given that importance, Yang implored voters in the audience to help in his quest to adjust the American economy to work not just for large companies that can effectively lobby Congress, but for everyone.
“It’s your job to change it, your power. I’m going to go a step further and say it’s your obligation to change it,” he said. “Because if you don’t rewrite these rules, New Hampshire, they stay exactly as they are. There’s no second New Hampshire after you, if you know what I mean. It has to happen here and it has to happen now.”
Yang levied criticism for both President Trump for trying to “turn back the clock” in response to America’s economic problems instead of actually addressing them, and to former Senator Hillary Clinton for responding to Trump’s approach in 2016 with a lack of urgency toward doing anything at all.
However, his sharpest criticism was honed in on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
While Yang was happy to see Bezos spend billions on space exploration, he said that money could come after he repays the billions he has taken out of the American economy through automation that has removed thousands of American jobs, as well as the lack of taxes Amazon has paid for the adverse impact its had on the country.
As of Tuesday, Yang has met the donor threshold needed to qualify for the Democratic National Committee’s December debate and needs to poll above 4 percent in just one more national poll to reach the debate stage for the sixth month in a row.
He feels confident that he can make that polling threshold, but also feels confident that he can draw support from beyond voters who normally support Democratic candidates.
“I had three voters in Keene yesterday who told me they supported Donald Trump and they’re going to be supporting me in the Primary,” he said. “And they are not alone, we are seeing many people who are disaffected Trump voters and independents and libertarians get excited for my campaign and join with Democrats and progressives.”
One of those voters is Shannon Jeans of Boynton Street in Bedford. Jeans has supported Yang since February and initially supported Bernie Sanders in 2016 before voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson in the general election.
Jeans will not vote for Trump next November, but if Yang doesn’t get the Democratic nomination, he might vote for a third party once again.
“He’s the first candidate of any kind I’ve come across who actually cares and has the data behind his policies and plans,” said Jeans. “I mean, I like Tulsi (Gabbard) a little bit, I like Bernie (Sanders) a little bit, but I don’t have that passion for them because I feel they are limited in their views.”
Yang heads to Chicago for a rally on Thursday, but will return to his new Manchester office on Dec. 31 to participate in a New Year’s Eve party organized by the campaign.