“I don’t think Democrats will lose to Republicans. I think we’ll lose to our own hand-wringing,” she told Democrats from Windham, NH, at a meeting Thursday night.
In addressing the diverse and attentive crowd, Kuster spoke honestly and articulately about the challenges facing Democrats this fall but also the opportunities that await them.
“Republicans are excited, the Tea Party is just filling the airwaves,” she said. “Even within our own party we have our self-doubt threatening our ability to move forward.”
But Kuster urged Democrats tired from the tumult and emotion of the 2008 campaign to “get up off the couch” and get to work electing a Congress that can work with President Barack Obama.
And getting up off the couch certainly seems to be a life philosophy Kuster herself sticks to. It’s hard to imagine this smart and energetic woman sitting still for long.
In her first run, Kuster has launched one of the most dynamic campaigns New Hampshire has seen, raising more money from Granite state voters than any other Congressional candidate in the state’s history and launching a successful grassroots campaign throughout the district.
A self-proclaimed wonk, Kuster is both approachable and down-to-earth. She lacks the polished presentation of politician Katrina Swett or former talk show host Jennifer Horn, but for many voters, this will probably add to her appeal.
Kuster will certainly not win any votes among the supporters of Horn or Bob Giuda — haters of “Obamacare” won’t be fans. And for many in the state that value personal liberty above all else, she might seem a bit too “big government” to win them over.
But Kuster spoke well about her passion for women’s issues, renewable energy, health care and financial reform — all issues that affect the average voter.
“I tell people it’s a basic civics lesson,” she said. “We had a huge change and sent a new president to the White House, but we haven’t yet given him the Congress he can work with.”
When asked about Democrats and deficit spending — a topic Republicans love to bemoan — Kuster said she supports troop withdrawals from Iraq and a rolling back of tax cuts on the wealthy, in addition to more fiscally prudent spending.
“I’m a frugal Yankee,” she said. “Our car has 205,000 miles on it. We joke that it won’t last the campaign. I know how to stretch a buck.”
Until the candidate financial reports are released next week, it’s unclear exactly how many bucks Kuster will have to stretch in this campaign. But either way, Katrina Swett will have no easy time coasting to victory in November.
Check out the candidates’ first-quarter financial data — including cash on hand and money raised so far — here at OpenSecrets.org. Second-quarter reports are due at the end of June.