DERRY, N.H. ― As President Donald Trump was in Washington on Thursday celebrating his acquittal on impeachment charges, the Democratic presidential candidates were in New Hampshire largely ignoring the entire issue.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held a press conference in Manchester for more than 20 minutes. Impeachment never came up.
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg held a town hall with veterans in Merrimack. No mention of impeachment.
At a rally in Derry, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) only briefly alluded to impeachment by saying, “You cannot embarrass Republicans in the Senate,” and pointing to the “fake trial” after an attendee asked her about the judges the Republicans have been pushing through to the federal bench.
“I think people pretty much knew how it was going to go,” said New Hampshire state Rep. Erika Connors (D), who was at Warren’s event and is leaning toward endorsing her in Tuesday’s primary. “I don’t think it’s really surprised anybody the way that the presidency has been going so far. I don’t think it’s going to have much of an impact on the election.”
But impeachment did come up ― from the voters. And Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) was the talk of the town for being the only Republican to vote to convict Trump.
Karen Facques, a schoolteacher from Bedford, was at Buttigieg’s event on Thursday. At the end of a discussion about why she’s deciding between voting for Buttigieg or Sanders, she wanted to talk about a different man.
“On a separate note, can we give a shoutout to Mitt Romney?” she said. “In a nonpartisan way, just as a citizen ... it was just nice to have someone say, ‘I’m making it on principle and not out of political leanings or fear-based decision-making.’ It was just very refreshing to hear in this time.”
Another woman stood out in the cold and slush with signs going after the “scumbags” in the Republican Party ― except Romney.
Lorrie Belinsky, an independent retired school administrator from Derry, was at Warren’s event. She’s deciding between Warren, Buttigieg and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). She said she’s worried about the “damage” to the Democratic Party right now because of “the situation that’s been going on.”
The Iowa caucuses? Nope, impeachment.
“I hope that the party can be unified,” Belinsky said. “I was glad they were at least unified in their vote yesterday.”
And she had plenty of nice things to say about Romney.
“He’s a hero for me right this moment,” she said. “But I liked him as governor in Massachusetts. He did a good job down there ― brought a lot of change down there. Good for him to stand up.”
Romney has been facing a far more hostile reception from some members of his own party. Donald Trump Jr. said Romney should be expelled from the GOP. The White House was also circulating anti-Romney talking points.
And the president himself took a swipe at Romney, who ran for president as the Republican nominee in 2012, at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.
“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” Trump said.
Eleni Valverde had a different take on Romney.
“I am very proud that he did that,” said Valverde, of West Newbury, Massachusetts, which is on the border with New Hampshire. “He is a man of his convictions. And now Trump is slamming him, which is totally not right. The man really voted the way his conscience went, which a lot of other people should have, but they didn’t. I give him a lot of credit.”