2020 Dem Sestak taking his long-shot bid step-by-step

MANCHESTER, NH -- Joe Sestak faces an extremely long and uphill march to win the Democratic presidential nomination – but that’s just what the retired three-star U.S. Navy admiral and former two-term congressman from Pennsylvania’s doing – taking his challenging journey one step at a time.

Sestak, who in June became the second to last Democratic candidate to jump into the 2020 White House race, has been far from the spotlight as he runs a bare-bones campaign mostly in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Retired admiral and former congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania - a very long-shot contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, walks across the width of New Hampshire, in Manchester, NH on Oct. 18, 2019

Retired admiral and former congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania - a very long-shot contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, walks across the width of New Hampshire, in Manchester, NH on Oct. 18, 2019

But Sestak hopes his week-long walk across the width of New Hampshire – from the Vermont border to the Atlantic Ocean – will make him more visible with voters in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.


“This is an independent minded state, the Granite State. It’s wide open according to some. And I find that as I go around,” Sestak told Fox News on Friday. “I just need to get in front of them physically and on the air, and that’s why we’re doing the walk and that’s why the ad’s up,”

The ad he refers to is a commercial that’s running on local broadcast and cable TV during his trek.

Sestak says he’s “stopping everywhere to meet with people…It’s a great learning experience.”

As he makes stops in roadside cafes or restaurants - to “go in for a coffee and chat with somebody” - he notes that “to a person, they’re glad when I sit down and just go in…The response is fantastic. I’m not just saying that.”


This isn’t the first time Sestak’s taken to walking the roads as he runs for office. He trekked across Pennsylvania in 2014 during his second unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate.

But he shared that the “original idea” came from Pulitzer prize winning decades old book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’

“We used to read it to our daughter. And there Atticus says to his daughter Scout, who repeats it in the book, ‘you can’t know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them,’” he explained as he paraphrased the book.

Sestak’s long-shot bid isn’t grabbing a lot of national attention, but he optimistically noted it doesn’t get frustrating “because I really do believe that there’s a decent chance.”

And as he often does, Sestak highlighted his come from behind primary win over incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2010 Democratic Senate nomination race.

And he emphasized that “we have enough (campaign cash) to keep on going and we’ll continue full operations well into next year.

Sestak's far from qualifying for the Democratic presidential primary debates. He jabbed at the Democratic National Committee for using fundraising as one of the two thresholds to qualify for the debates.

“Once you begin to use money as an indicator of support, it kind of hurts the system. And the Democrats should be about support not measured by money,” he emphasized.

Sestak’s walking at a brisk pace, saying on average he treks 3.5 to 3.7 miles per hour. A car with a support staffer or two – who tweet and post video of the trip along the way - is always within a mile or two of the candidate.

It’s a non-traditional journey. Sestak will often stop down and jump into the support vehicle to attend an event or make a campaign stop or two before heading back to the spot where he stopped his trip, so he can resume his journey. And each evening he returns to a home in southern New  Hampshire, where he stays with friends.

Sestak ends his trip Sunday along the harbor in the coastal city of Portsmouth.


“I’m going to talk about national security as I stand right there, on the harbor that looks east,” he noted. “That’s where I sailed across to combat in a ship and I’m going to talk about how we really do need today someone who understands – with breadth and depth of global experience – how this world needs to be led by America.”

Sestak told Fox News that “it doesn’t get lonely” on his walk. He explained that it gives him “a lot of time for thinking.”

But highlighting the dangers of walking across the Granite State, he noted that he has to stay alert along the journey.

“You get in some pretty narrow roadways there with heavy trucks going by. No sidewalks,” he stressed.