NEW HAMPSHIRE — Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown heard from voters in New Hampshire recently as he continues to test the waters for a presidential run.

  • Sen. Sherrod Brown took "Dignity of Work" tour to New Hampshire
  • He's testing the waters for a potential 2020 presidential run
  • 1 voter said he battles lack of name recognition in Granite State

His "Dignity of Work" listening tour through the Granite State started with a roundtable on paid family medical leave in the town of Hampton.

“I think that because he does appear so genuine — and I think he is genuine — that he would have as good a shot as anybody,” said Mike Edgar, a New Hampshire state representative who attended the event.

Brown has been spending a good chunk of his listening tour — which was launched in Ohio and went to Iowa before landing in New Hampshire — actually listening. But he’s also selling his record as Ohio’s standout Democrat.

"I really thought it was astounding that, despite the fact that Trump won Ohio by such a wide margin, that (Brown) also won, being so progressive," said Victoria Stella, who lives in Portsmouth and attended the roundtable. 

"(It) makes him pretty attractive as a candidate, because if he can appeal to all kinds of voters, then, that can be a big difference for me for who I support."

Brown's progressive, worker-focused message was well-received at a workers roundtable in the mountain and mill town of Berlin.

"What attracted me to come here in the first place was the 'Dignity of Work' (message)," said Mollie White, who lives in Twin Mountain.

But at a child-care roundtable in Laconia, Ohio native Shelby Hritz, who has followed Brown's career from the start, said his lack of name recognition in the Granite State will be his main hurdle to clear.

"It is the biggest challenge," said Hritz, who now lives in Boston and spends weekends in New Hampshire. "They don’t know him yet. He's been quietly working for Ohioans for many, many years, and he's very focused on Ohio. ... He has some work to do. But I think once people hear his message, they'll remember who he is."

The largest crowd yet, about 150, showed up at a bookstore in Concord to meet Brown and his wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz.

It was there that Brown was faced with a direct question about diversity in the 2020 Democratic race.

"My biggest concern, though, is how you'll win the primary at a time when Democrats are really looking for change from white men," a woman said to Brown.

The senator said he thinks the race is largely about ideas.

"I will have a progressive message that progressives in this party — regardless of what people look like — progressives in this party will rally around," Brown said. 

The large crowd in Concord was filled with people who said they're excited about Brown possibly entering the race, including Ryan Greenwood, who drove an hour from Massachusetts to attend.

He said Brown could be the one Democratic candidate who could win back voters who voted for Barack Obama twice and then President Donald Trump.

"Trump won by branding," Greenwood said. "The 'Dignity of Work' is a brand that people can get behind. It's a message that a guy like my father can understand — a 65-year-old carpenter who worked for 45 years that voted for Trump after being a Democrat his whole life."

Brown ended his visit by delivering the keynote address at the New Hampshire Young Democrats' Granite Slate Awards, where he made a presidential-sounding pitch to the millennial crowd.

"Given the number of people who will be running, I think 6 or 7 percent could win (New Hampshire)," said David Greene, who lives in Dover and attended the ceremony. "So why not him?"

Brown will travel to Nevada on Saturday and then to South Carolina next weekend.