Just three weeks before the nation's first primary, Senator Elizabeth Warren picked up two key endorsements in New Hampshire. Kathy Sullivan, a titan of New Hampshire politics and former chair of the state's Democratic Party, backed Warren for president, just hours after state Senator Kevin Cavanaugh announced his support.
"I've been thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it. And finally, over the last couple of days, everything started to crystallized for me. I said, you know, 'Elizabeth Warren is the one I really think I would like to see as the nominee,'" Sullivan told CBS News in a phone interview Tuesday.
For Sullivan, it was the Massachusetts lawmaker's personal narrative that put her over the edge.
"She's got a great personal story. You know, like the public school kid from Oklahoma who made her way through public schools, going to college and law school, on to the United States Senate," she added. "It's the kid who can grow up to be whatever they want in this country. And that's a story unfortunately not available to all children in this country. And I think she's is the person to fix that."
Nominating a woman for president yet again, Sullivan contended, is another way to underline that American dream. "This is available to everyone," she said.
Sullivan said Warren's national and state team played a role in her decision, including her longtime relationships with New Hampshire state director Liz Wester and campaign manager Roger Lau.
"Just like Teddy Roosevelt in the early 1900s with trust-busting, and FDR during the Great Depression, establishing Social Security. You know there [are] times in our country's history where sometimes we need to sort of take a step back and make some adjustments so that the country works for everyone," Sullivan said.
With the impeachment trial looming over Washington, D.C., presidential contenders in the Senate have retreated back to Washington to serve as members of the jury. Without storming Iowa and New Hampshire during the final weeks before the first in the nation caucus and primary, campaign surrogates will carry the torch for many of the top tier candidates.
"It's the Senators who have got a job to do in Washington," Sullivan said. 'So it's going to be up to people back here in New Hampshire, to pitch in and to continue to talk to people about Elizabeth Warren, talk about her story. To talk about where she stands on the issues, because she may not be able to be here as much herself. While the impeachment trials going on, we've got to pick up the slack, so to speak."
The endorsements come at a critical time for Warren, who has fallen significantly in recent polling out of the Granite State. In Monmouth University's New Hampshire poll, released earlier this month, Warren earned just 15% of support, trailing Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. She dropped 12 points compared to Monmouth University's New Hampshire poll from September.
Earlier Tuesday, Cavanaugh, a two-term senator in New Hampshire, announced his support for Warren. The senator from District 16 represents part of a 2016 pivot county, Hillsborough, that voted for former President Barack Obama in 2012 before flipping to President Donald Trump four years later.
Cavanaugh, who has met every presidential candidate or their spouse, said he felt time ticking down on his decision. "It's just like NFL playoffs. Once you get to two teams, you're close to the Super bowl. I think at some point you have to focus in," he told CBS News in a phone interview.
That clarity, Cavanaugh said, came from Warren's personal story. "It's what she's said about working families. She was a single mother from a divorced family. My mother worked two jobs to keep our house."
Cavanagh is the first New Hampshire state senator – one of 24 – to back Warren. The state lawmaker joked that while he has a full-time job, he'll do his part to support Warren during her time away from the campaign trail. "We'll step up. I'll do what I can," he said with a laugh. "Three weeks. This is the fun part in New Hampshire."
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