She didn’t mention Donald Trump, Chris Christie or Rodney Frelinghuysen, the man whose job she wants.
She didn’t mention Jay Webber, the man she’s battling for that job.
She didn’t even mention the job itself.
And perhaps that’s what makes Mikie Sherrill such a distinctive candidate for the U.S. House, as she seeks the seat representing the 11th District in New Jersey.
Sherrill, a Democrat, made her kickoff rally for November’s election about something members of both parties want in their candidates: honor, courage, character, integrity and duty.
“When I was at the Naval Academy, we talked about these words a lot,” she told the crowd of approximately 750. “It was easy to take them for granted.
“But, as I stand here now, I can tell you that, after serving all over the world, after fighting for our country as a helicopter pilot, after fighting for justice here at home at the U.S. attorney’s office, these words are actually the various tenets of who we are and who we should always strive to be.”
Sherrill has a great story to tell. And a great ability to tell it (she has a lot more money than her Republican opponent, Webber).
She also has great support from her party, which brought not only Gov. Phil Murphy but also former Vice President Joe Biden to the rally.
Murphy and Biden made the traditional political statements.
Murphy ripped President Trump and former Gov. Christie — Republicans both — in a short introductory speech.
Biden blasted Trump, the state of affairs in Washington and whole lot more in a rambling 39-minute keynote address.
Sherrill, the political newcomer, stayed above the fray.
“Each new generation has a choice,” she said. “Face the challenges head on with the confidence and the certainty that we can lead this world towards something better and, in doing so, provide a better future for everyone.
“Or, we can cower in the face of change, fear our neighbors and work only for ourselves.
“And this country has always been at its best, has always led in the most effective way, has always achieved the greatest success, when we operate from a sense of confidence and optimism with leadership that looks to the future.”
She did briefly mention a few of the traditional Democratic stump speech talking points, on the economy, health care, women’s health and marriage equality.
But the heart of her speech was about doing the right thing — and doing it with honor and integrity, in a not-so-subtle jab at the current administration.
“So, now we have a duty,” she said. “And that’s not a word we use a lot, but it’s the truth, because we are incredibly lucky to have the privilege of calling this country home.
“And, so, we have a duty as citizens of our democracy, to fight for what we know is true. To fight for what we know our country stands for.”
Sherrill told the crowd the future belonged to them.
“I think maybe your generation has been a little bit short-changed, quite frankly, by my generation,” she said. “We sort of thought once we won the Cold War that we’ve won all wars, words like honor and courage, character and integrity and duty belong solely to another generation.
“I know you’re here today because these virtues are timeless and because our country is counting on you.”
Interestingly enough, the only politician Sherrill actually mentioned by name was one from the opposing party: Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who passed away last month and was eulogized by Biden.
“A lot of us were reminded this past weekend of who we are as Americans, when we’re at our best,” she said. “As I watched Vice President Biden give a eulogy for Sen. McCain, I heard him describing the leadership of Sen. McCain, but also painting a picture of American leadership at its best.”
Honor, courage, character, integrity and duty.
It’s been a long time since politics was about that.