Dodd weighs in on gay marriage in N.H.
Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., answers questions during a live call-in radio show at New Hampshire Public Radio in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, April 4, 2007.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Democratic presidential hopeful Chris Dodd told Concord High School students Wednesday that people debating gay marriage should ask themselves just one question: What would you do if your child were gay?

Dodd said anyone who would deny a gay child the right to be happy isn't being honest.

"We ought to be able to have these loving relationships," the Connecticut senator said.

Dodd, the father of a 2- and a 5-year-old, said his daughters could grow up to be lesbians and he hopes they would have the opportunity to enjoy marriage-like rights.

"They may grow up as a different sexual orientation than their parents," Dodd said. "How would I want my child to be treated if they were of a different sexual orientation?"

Dodd, who opposed a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to man-woman unions, said he supports civil unions, but not gay marriage. Asked afterward what he sees as the difference, he said: "I don't think probably much in people's minds. If you're allowing that, all the protections you have there, you've covered it."

As Dodd spoke, the state House of Representatives was debating a civil unions bill a mile away at the State House. The bill passed easily, moving on to the Senate.

Later during an appearance at Saint Anselm College's New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, Dodd told young New Hampshire voters they shouldn't accept pundits' predictions that the Democratic field is limited to the three top-polling candidates.

Dodd, polling at under 5 percent in new numbers released this week, said New Hampshire voters should embrace his campaign for its ideas.

"People in this state remember Bill Clinton was at 2 percent - 6th place," Dodd said. "We're in a good place. We raised enough money and we can gain momentum."

Dodd's comments came on the same day Sen. Barack Obama reported that he raised $25 million. Dodd has raised more than $4 million and transferred nearly $5 million from his Senate campaign, for a total of $9 million in receipts and $7.5 million cash on hand.

"They're going to run their campaign. I'm going to run mine," Dodd said. "I think people here are going to react to being told there is a price tag on the Granite State."

Even so, Dodd faces tough odds. The revised primary schedule makes it that much tougher for upstart campaigns, such as his. Dodd said he plans to make New Hampshire and other early-voting states a priority. He acknowledges, though, he has to do well in New Hampshire to have momentum going into a crowded cluster of primaries afterward.

"I don't have the same money to do a national media campaign," Dodd said.

Throughout his visit to New Hampshire, Dodd repeated his criticism of the Bush administration's approach to foreign policy. He said the United States should be talking with its enemies, not giving them the silent treatment.

"What would Ronald Reagan do?" he asked the students in Manchester. "It's not a sign of weakness to negotiate."

The bluntness could help the veteran senator's campaign.

"He's creating a buzz," said Brian Lawson, a Saint Anselm College student who also maintains a New Hampshire primary blog. "For a second-tier candidate, these visits will pay off down the road. But he's got to get higher than where he is right now in the polls."

Others, however, found Dodd more impressive.

"I haven't really been paying that much attention," said Eddie Lyons, a 21-year-old business student who attended a roundtable discussion about business and finance issues. "I'm usually a Republican, but I didn't hear anything here I didn't agree with."