BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Curbing gun violence, earning a living wage and making college affordable were some of the topics addressed by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy when he arrived Thursday evening at the East End Baptist Tabernacle Church in Bridgeport.
Murphy arrived in Bridgeport after traveling nearly 100 miles on foot to greet about 60 people for a town meeting.
The junior senator from Connecticut started his journey Monday at about 1 p.m. in Voluntown. Since then, he has met hundreds of constituents while getting an up-close view of the Nutmeg State. On Thursday, his fourth day, Murphy made his way from New Haven to Bridgeport with a stop in Stratford .
Also in attendance at the town meeting was Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Addressing the crowd, Murphy said the journey has been a learning experience. "I wanted to go on this walk because I'm new to representing the whole state of Connecticut. I have some catching up to do when it comes to truly understanding what the issues are here.
"After speaking with hundreds of people about what they want from their senator, it really has been an exceptional week."
Along his walk, people he encountered brought up many topics, one of which was earning a living. People are working 30, 40 and 50 hours a week, and "have to decide between putting food on their table and paying their electric bill," he said. "This is a silent crisis.
"These people are playing by the rules, working their butts off, and still not able to make ends meet. In this state, the minimum wage is not a living wage."
Murphy also brought up the subject of gun control, which has been a top issue for him since the Sandy Hook School shooting. The places with the highest rates of violent crime are also the places that have the highest rates of unemployment. The gun violence rate in the U.S. is 20 times higher than any other nation, he said.
"We are so focused on getting illegal guns off the streets of Bridgeport," he said. In just the past few weeks in the state's largest city , a Stamford teen was shot to death and another 20 suffered gunshot wounds, including 13 in one incident.
Blumenthal said, "Here on this day in light of the recent shootings that occurred, Bridgeport has a great opportunity to be a model to save our nation in a way that combats gun violence," he said. "This challenge, obligation and opportunity is so real here.
"We will win this fight to reach out to people where they live and work. We can galvanize and mobilize the nation.," he said.
"Listening is probably the most important thing we can do as your elected representatives. Chris has been listening for the four years he has been in this job. ... I cannot imagine Donald Trump taking the walk that Chris did ...or walking anywhere," Blumenthal said.
Another topic Murphy spoke about was college.
"Kids from Bridgeport and Hartford who I have spoken with feel that college is so expensive that it's not a reality for them. You've got to dramatically reduce the cost of higher education so it can become a reality for all kids. A high school education won't do it. Public education should be through Grade 16 and not through [just] Grade 12."
Throughout his travels, Murphy said what most touched him was that of all the people he spoke to who are struggling to make ends meet. "None have given up. They still have faith that things are going to get better," he said.
Ganim said he was happy to see Murphy make such a concerted, visible effort. Murphy's walk demonstrates his commitment, "not only to Connecticut, but to our country on issues like gun violence. This is so important in Bridgeport right now," Ganim said.
Murphy will step off Friday morning from Bridgeport and journey through Fairfield, Westport, Norwalk and Darien.
His colleague, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District), will join him for the last 4 miles of the Friday walk from the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk to Darien's Tilley Pond Park. There, Murphy will hold a town hall meeting, the fifth and last of the walk, at about 7 p.m.
Murphy plans to finish the walk on Saturday in Greenwich — capping off his end-to-end walk at about 130 miles.
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