Presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand tours businesses in Exeter, N.H.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited several businesses in Downtown Exeter as the presidential hopeful was in New Hamshire for the weekend.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited several businesses in Downtown Exeter as the presidential hopeful was in New Hamshire for the weekend.

EXETER, N.H. — Presidents Day weekend brought several Democratic candidates seeking to be the nation’s chief executive to the Granite State on Saturday, where each tried to stand out in a growing field of contenders hoping to challenge President Trump in 2020.

Saturday marked a return visit for US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who this time brought her husband, Jonathan, and freckle-faced 10-year-old son, Henry, along as she made her way through local businesses in Exeter, asking proprietors and customers which issues matter to them.

At Water Street Bookstore, Gillibrand talked with owner Dan Chartrand about the challenges of running a bookstore in the era of online commerce and about her own literary preferences.


“I like biographies. . . . I like anything that teaches me about life,” the senator said. She wound up buying a signed copy of the historical book about women pilots, “Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History.”

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Henry Gillibrand came to his mother with a book from the young adult series “Mortal Engines.” When she expressed approval, the boy was unsurprised. “I have very good taste,” he said.

After explaining to a local resident how she thinks the Green New Deal set of energy and environmental proposals can attract bipartisan support, Gillibrand moved on to Whirlygigs Toy Shop. There she talked with owners Liz and Geoff Pendexter about the ways online retail has eaten into their business, with a schoolteacher about environmental issues, and with Henry about stuffed toys based on Japanese cartoons.

At Me & Ollie’s Bakery & Café, Gillibrand stopped by the front door to talk about access to affordable health care, child care, and universal pre-kindergarten with social workers Jennica Piecuch and and Sarah Marino, and and their 4-year-old daughters.

The career sacrifices that women make to build families keep many on “the sticky floor,” Gillibrand said, stuck in lower-paying, lower-responsibility jobs because time off for motherhood equals lost momentum in the workplace. She also praised Mila’s unicorn socks.


Piecuch said the issues Gillibrand discussed resonated with her as a mother and as a social worker.

“I think she’s got a lot of really important things that she’s got to get doing,” Piecuch said, though she added that it is “probably too early to say” which candidate she’ll end up supporting.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.