When he stepped to the microphone at Monday’s get-out-the-vote rally for Elizabeth Warren in Rochester, New Hampshire, Anders Hellberg apologized for his accent.
“Some people seem to think I have one, too,” the candidate quipped in reply.
Hellberg hails from Stockholm. He is 68 and publishes nautical guidebooks. And it is probably safe to say he is Sweden’s biggest Warren superfan. “I came here from Europe for you,” he told Warren. “I’m going back tonight.”
He’d flown in on Friday and spent the last few days following Warren from campaign stop to campaign stop as she barnstormed New Hampshire ahead of the state’s primary on Tuesday. At one of his first events, when Warren’s campaign said she would not have time for one of her famous selfie lines, Hellberg wondered if he might have to settle for a photo with Warren’s golden retriever, Bailey. “I didn’t travel all the way around the world for a selfie with Bailey—but I’ll take it,” he said.
He needn’t have worried. By the time he left the Rochester Opera House on Monday afternoon, en route to Boston’s Logan Airport to catch his return flight, he had collected his third photo with Warren. He also got the opportunity to ask her a question at the rally. Noting that he had two stepsons with autism who require full-time care, which is funded by the Swedish government, Hellberg wondered how she planned to help American families caring for disabled loved ones. (“That’s what Medicare for All is all about,” Warren answered.)
Political tourists have flocked to New Hampshire to see the candidates up close. I’ve bumped into people from California, Florida, New York, and many other locales—but Hellberg was the first person I met who had taken a transatlantic flight in order to check out the first-in-the-nation primary.
“I’ve been following American politics since the ’60s, and I would say that never, ever has the country had a candidate like Elizabeth Warren,” Hellberg told me. “She’s absolutely outstanding.”
Warren, it turns out, is not the only 2020 contender who can point to passionate Nordic support. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has apparently won over Danes by slamming President Trump on the campaign trial for canceling a visit to their country because its leaders rebuffed Trump’s outlandish proposition to purchase Greenland. (“He blames the entire kingdom of Denmark. Who does that?”) At a campaign rally on Monday in Exeter, Klobuchar brought up her “strange cult following of Danish people.” The New York Times‘ Nick Corasaniti, who was on the scene, reported, “and they were here, along the wall, waving back when mentioned.”
Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, has a Norwegian constituency, owing to the fact that he taught himself the language in order to read the work of the author Erlend Loe in its original form.
Warren, for her part, can use all the support she can get in New Hampshire. After her third-place finish in Iowa, recent polls show her slipping into fourth or even fifth place in New Hampshire. Hellberg admitted that he was concerned about her chances. “The American people,” he said, “will be not so smart if they choose another candidate.”