SALEM, N.H. — Five months before the first-in-the-nation primary, New Hampshire voters in a Salem living room realized they hadn’t heard enough about foreign policy from the 20 Democrats running for the presidential nomination.

Lucy Gagnon of Salem and Kay Galloway of Atkinson noted the lack of foreign policy in the 2020 presidential race after hearing retired Navy Vice Adm. Joe Sestak make his pitch to be the next commander in chief at a Salem home during a campaign stop.

“I realized we aren’t paying enough attention to foreign policy,” Gagnon said, describing the President Donald Trump’s foreign policy as “erratic."

Galloway said she thinks Trump is failure because of his “temperamental” approach to foreign policy.

Sestak, who worked as a foreign policy advisor to President Bill Clinton, pitched himself as the candidate able to “heal the country’s soul.” 

The two-term Pennsylvania Congressman entered the presidential race on June 23, late in comparison to other contenders. Last year, while he took time off work to be with his daughter as she beat cancer a second time, Sestak was thinking about how his cumulative experiences could possibly help the country move forward.

“Militaries can stop the problem, they never can fix the problem,” he said. “But understanding the power of diplomacy, the power of our economy, and the power that comes from our ideals, and bring them together for peace and prosperity and the advancement of our industries.”

Trust in government and fellow countrymen is lost, Sestak said.

He wants to be able to reach out to voters of all political stripes, showing that his actions prove he is ready to lead the country to heal. He wants to help restore American’s faith in their politicians instead of opting for someone out of fear, Sestak said.

“Mr. Trump is not the problem, he is the symptom of the problem,” he said.

The retired vice admiral talked about how he would build international relationships back up, through rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change and building on other treaties.

Impressed with his knowledge, Salem voters were intrigued with the candidate in the already flooded primary field.

Salem Democratic Committee member Carla Billingham said she was impressed with Sestak and is happy he's using his platform to talk about foreign policy.

“I tell each candidate, no matter what the result is, stick around because each has a piece of the puzzle for the next administration in 2020,” she said. “It’s great to be an American and hear all of these people speak. Democracy isn’t a spectator sport, and we are lucky to have great access in New Hampshire.”

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