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Clinton backs small business

Union Leader Correspondent

May 22. 2015 7:14PM

HAMPTON — Surrounded by beer kegs at the Smuttynose Brewing Company, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton met with locals Friday to talk about ways to strengthen small businesses, which she described as an engine for economic growth.

During her second campaign visit to New Hampshire, the former First Lady and U.S. Secretary of State spent much of her time at Smuttynose batting around ideas for small business growth with a panel of seven local business leaders.

"I want to be the small business President," Clinton said during a roundtable discussion before an audience of about 80 people inside a warehouse at the Hampton brewery.

Later in the day, Clinton traveled to downtown Exeter, where she met with about 50 supporters at the Water Street Bookstore.

At the rally, Clinton said she’s not running for a third Bill Clinton or Barack Obama term but wants to continue their "positive results," according to a pool report.

She wrapped up her day with a final public stop at Moo’s Place, an ice cream shop in Derry, the pool report said.

After touring the brewery earlier in the day, Clinton sat down at a table where there were no mugs of beer, but panelists were treated to water in Smuttynose glasses.

Clinton took notes as she listened to Smuttynose co-owners Peter Egelston and Joanne Francis and other local business owners talk about their successes and the challenges they’ve faced growing their companies.

Clinton shared her thoughts on expanding small businesses, expanding access to capital, tax relief for small businesses, and the need to access new markets.

She said the local brewery exemplifies a lot of the reasons why she’s talking a lot about small businesses.

Clinton said she wants to make it easier for small businesses to grow "so it feels less like a gamble."

While the event was about business, Clinton said her campaign will focus on ensuring the economy is running "full steam" ahead with job creation and rising incomes; making sure families and communities are strong; fixing what she calls a dysfunctional political system; and dealing with the threats being faced in the world today.

Clinton also addressed the debate in Congress over keeping the U.S. Export-Import Bank open.

The bank is an independent federal agency that fills gaps in private export financing by offering financing, including working capital guarantees and export credit insurance, to promote sales of American goods and services abroad.

Many conservative Republicans want to let the Export-Import Bank’s charter expire on June 30.

"Assistance from the Export-Import Bank supported hundreds of millions of dollars in exports by small businesses here in New Hampshire over the past five years," Clinton said, adding that Ex-Im supports up to 164,000 jobs nationally.

"It is wrong that Republicans in Congress are trying to cut off this vital lifeline for American small businesses. It’s wrong that candidates for President, who really should know better, are jumping on the bandwagon. In fact, it seems as though they would rather threaten the livelihood of those 164,000 jobs than stand up to Tea Party and talk radio," she said.

Clinton also talked about the middle class, saying one thing that hasn’t changed are the values that "made the middle class mean something."

"That is true for my family and generations of families like mine. Being middle class should mean you feel control (over) your own financial future, you have confidence that everything you’ve worked for won’t be lost in a flash particularly because of actions taken by people and institutions over which you have no control and are not a part of the decision making," she said.

Clinton took no questions from audience members, most of whom were supporters who either reached out to the brewery to get a seat or were contacted by the campaign.

Town hall meetings with voters haven’t been a part of her campaign so far, but supporters said they’re hopeful they’ll be coming soon.

"I think that she’s trying to make this campaign a little bit different than the last campaign. She’s going small and then going big. I understand her emphasis on small businesses and getting to know the individuals in a smaller setting," said supporter Rich Green, 26, of Durham.

Hampton Democrat Lenore Patton, 78, also wasn’t worried about the lack of town hall meetings.

"I say to people when they tell me that, ‘Do you realize how far the election is from today and the time there is going to be to campaign?’" said Patton, who is vice chairman of the Rockingham County Democrats but wasn’t speaking on behalf of the group.

Outside the brewery, supporters gathered with signs.

Corina Chao, 19, of Hampton, held a sign that read, "A woman’s place is in the House, Senate and Oval Office."

Chao has never heard Clinton speak, but has followed her since her 2012 campaign and is excited to vote in her first presidential election.

"I’ve always liked her and I’ve liked the idea of a woman President, but that’s not the only reason I support her. Of course she’s on the right side of all the issues that I care about, especially from my generation, like LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights, raising the minimum wage (and) making college more affordable," she said.

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