Rural broadband, workforce highlight VP's first NH trip

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Kevin Landrigan, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester
·3 min read
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Apr. 23—CONCORD — Kamala Harris completed her first New Hampshire trip as vice president Friday, listening to the virtues of the Biden administration's America Jobs Plan, especially in how it could extend broadband to rural communities and provide workforce training pathways to good-paying jobs.

A visit to Plymouth showed off the work of the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative to bring high-speed internet service to homeowners in small towns like Lempster in western Sullivan County and Colebrook near the Canadian border.

She later toured a training center of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 490, the union decades ago that produced the first woman to become a licensed electrician in the state's history.

Harris noted only 6% of workers in the building trades were women and Biden's infrastructure spending plan was dedicated to increasing the female ranks for these good-wage, good-benefit jobs along with more minority workers.

"It is great to be in the house of labor. I am so honored to be here yet again in New Hampshire," said Harris to a small, fully-masked crowd including the state's congressional delegation, Sen. Becky Whitley, D-Concord, ex-Gov. John Lynch and Laconia Mayor Andrew Hosmer.

In between those two stops, she made an impromptu visit to the popular Gibson's Bookstore in Concord. Upon the advice of owner Michael Hermann, she left with two books she bought, "Women and Salt" by Gabriela Garcia and "The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook" (America's Test Kitchen).

Shaheen delights in Harris visit

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the first woman elected governor and U.S. senator in America, enjoyed introducing the first woman and woman of color to be elected vice president.

"I am so excited to call her Madam Vice President, for those of us who have waited for a long, long time for that," Shaheen said.

While Harris gave private, sit-down interviews in Concord to one local newspaper and WMUR, she declined to answer questions to the pooled press spending the entire day with her including a reporter and photographer with the Union Leader.

"Thirty days ago, Joe Biden appointed Kamala Harris to fix the growing border crisis, but instead of finally going to the border, she came to New Hampshire to use Granite Staters as a political prop," said Rachel Lee, spokesperson for the Republican National Committee. "Instead of grandstanding and gas lighting, Harris needs to stop laughing and get serious about the border crisis."

Harris' political fortunes in New Hampshire are clearly on the rebound after a less than impressive start.

Her 2020 presidential run ended in November 2019, two months before the first-in-the-nation primary and only a few visits to the state.

Biden, her eventual political benefactor, finished fifth in his third bid to win the New Hampshire primary contest.

Before the final votes here came in, Biden left for South Carolina, a state that weeks later would put him on the trajectory to winning the nomination.

Once united as a 2020 presidential ticket, Biden and Harris finished in fine fashion, winning New Hampshire's four electoral votes by a decisive, 8-point margin over then-President Trump.