STRATHAM – Mitt Romney, calling Sen. Jeanne Shaheen “the ‘Simon Says’ senator,” and insisting he is not interested in a third run for President, returned Wednesday to the place he announced his candidacy in 2011 – this time to back former fellow Bay Stater Scott Brown for the U.S. Senate.
At former New Hampshire House speaker Doug Scamman’s Bittersweet Farm, a familiar GOP venue for rallies, Romney framed what he hopes is a November showdown between Brown and Shaheen as a referendum on President Barack Obama’s “agenda.”
With Shaheen backing Obama 99 percent of the time, Romney called her the President’s “number one supporter.
“Washington is not a place where New Hampshire wants to play a game of ‘Simon Says,’” Romney told about 200 enthusiastic – if sweltering — Republicans. “She’s the ‘Simon Says’ senator.”
Democrats earlier Wednesday framed the dual appearance in their own way — as what Massachusetts party chairman Thomas McGee called “a couple of failed Massachusetts politicians who own summer homes in New Hampshire.”
New Hampshire Democratic Party Raymond Buckley said Brown “sides with Big Oil, Wall Street, and the corporate special interests who pay for his campaigns. Now, they’re trying to buy him New Hampshire’s Senate seat.”
Romney “has no credibility in New Hampshire, either,” Buckley said. “We haven’t forgotten his ’47 percent’ comments. And we know he has never been working for the middle-class families that are the backbone of our state.”
Brown and Romney have not seen eye to eye on all issues in the past, but they were in lockstep Wednesday on the theme of uniting Republicans behind Brown. The Brown campaign hopes Romney, the 2012 New Hampshire primary winner, is a catalyst for that unification.
Brown is widely viewed as the favorite over former state Sen. Jim Rubens and former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith in the primary race, but the two underdogs are running aggressive campaigns questioning Brown’s conservative Republican credentials.
“A unified party after the primary,” said Brown, “along with those good independents and good Democrats who are just fed up, is Senator Shaheen’s worst nightmare.”
Romney lost New Hampshire in the 2012 general election to President Barack, 52 to 46 percent. But Brown noted Romney’s win in the presidential primary that year (39 to 22 percent over Ron Paul).
The charges issued Wednesday by Romney and Brown were familiar to Granite State voters: the Affordable Care Act is bad for the state and the nation, the economy and the nation’s prestige in the world are floundering, and Shaheen is a rubber stamp for Obama.
Now, said Romney, “Simon says from Washington, or President Obama says, ‘We need to have a new carbon tax,’” which he called “bad news for the people of New Hampshire.
“But because Barack Obama is saying it – Simon is saying it, if you will, same ‘dif’ – Jeanne Shaheen is going to vote for it,” Romney said. “She’s in favor of it because he is.”
Brown told Romney, “You have a lot of friends in our state and I’m proud to be one of them.”
He said New Hampshire knows him “as the upright and capable man who we wish were President right now.”
Brown said he and Romney issued early warnings “that Obamacare was built on false promises and would be a disaster. And this is a man who understands that without American leadership, things unravel in the world. The innocent suffer, the sacrifices of our troops are squandered, the threats to our security multiply, just as we are seeing right now in the sixth year of this presidency.
“Regrets (about Romney’s loss) don’t change anything,” Brown said. “Two more years of Barack Obama does not mean two more years of rubber stamping,” calling for voters to “send a message that the Obama/Shaheen agenda ends right here, right now.”
“She is a very nice person,” Brown said of Shaheen. “She is just not the independent voice that she promised to be and that New Hampshire expects and deserves. She votes more for the Obama agenda than Harry Reid does. I know that’s hard to believe.”
Former Gov. John H. Sununu noted Obama was found in a recent nationwide poll to be the worst President since World War II (edging George W. Bush, 33 to 28 percent, in the Quinnipiac University survey).
“The public is finally finding out that the self-appointed emperor has no clothes,” said Sununu. “We had an election in 2012 in which clearly the wrong person won.”
He introduced Romney as “the man who should have been the 44th President of the United States.”
It was a familiar scene at the Scamman farm, much like many rallies of the past — hot dogs and cold water served by Cub Scouts, and many prominent state Republicans.
Veteran GOP strategists and Romney supporters Tom Rath of New Hampshire and Ron Kaufman of Massachusetts milled about. New Hampshire state Senate President Chuck Morse, who recently endorsed Brown, spent a few moments warming up the crowd, while in the crowd were Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and Sens. Russell Prescott and Jim Rausch.
Veteran Republican activist Susan Duprey said Brown and Romney “always put their families first , and at the end of the day we know there is nothing more important than taking care of our children.”
The Romney appearance was his first publicly in New Hampshire – as is well-known, he owns a vacation home on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro – since the general election of 2012.
There has been speculation that he may be coaxed into a third run for President, despite his continued insistence that he will not run.
A recent Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll of New Hampshire Republicans and independents found Romney with more than a 2-1 advantage over his closest potential competitor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Romney was the choice of 24 percent of those polled as compared to 9 percent for Christie.
As Romney signed autographs and shook hands after the event, however, he again tried to put to rest any talk of presidential ambitions.
Did the adulation give him the “bug” to run again?
“No, I got the bug to help Scott, that’s about it,” Romney told the New Hampshire Journal. It’s the second time in a week he’s helped Brown, having hosted a fundraiser in Chicago on Sunday night.
Earlier, the New Hampshire Democratic Party also noted that Brown and Romney supported the Blunt Amendment, “which would allow restrictions even more extreme than those the Supreme Court allowed in” the“Hobby Lobby” decision earlier in the week.
“Women in the Granite State cannot trust Scott Brown to protect their interests,” said party spokesman Julie McClain.
The Professional Fire Fighters Association of New Hampshire, which has endorsed Shaheen, also blasted Brown and Romney.
Union president David Lang said Brown opposed measures to rehire laid off firefighters, law enforcement officers and teachers.
“Both of these previously elected officials have a history of not supporting policies that would make our communities safer,” Lang said. “Their priorities do not protect the people of Main Street, and are not helpful here in New Hampshire.”
“We didn’t buy Romney’s plan in New Hampshire during the 2012 campaign, and we certainly won’t buy the same plan spoken by a different Massachusetts politician,” added Chuck Gallant President of IAFF Local 4411 Professional Firefighters of Rye.
While jumping into the primary contest in New Hampshire, Romney has reportedly endorsed more than 30 candidates in about two dozen states.
A source close to the Brown campaign said that although there are no joint events planned with Romney at the moment, “We’d love to have Governor Romney back as much as his schedule will allow. He has a tremendous amount of good will and respect among New Hampshire voters, especially as they realize how much better off this country would be if he had won in 2012.”
(Our earlier report follows.)
Early Wednesday, July 2:
STRATHAM – With 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney formally backing Senate candidate and former Sen. Scott Brown in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Democratic leaders from New Hampshire and Massachusetts said both are wrong for New Hampshire and side with “Wall Street” and “Big Oil.”
“I served with Mitt Romney and Scott Brown, and I can tell you they are more interested in promoting themselves and corporate special interests than fighting for middle class families,” said Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Thomas McGee.
“When you get down to it, Scott Brown and Mitt Romney are really just both a couple of failed Massachusetts politicians who own summer homes in New Hampshire, and stand with Wall Street and Big Oil at the expense of working families.”
In excerpts of Brown’s speech released by his campaign in advance of the joint apperance at former House speaker Douglas Scamman’s farm in Strathsm, Brown praises Romney and blasts President Barack Obama and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
“New Hampshire knows Mitt Romney well, and not just because he won the presidential primary here,” Brown says. “ We know him as the upright and capable man we wish were president right now. Mitt Romney fought the good fight in 2012, and he’s here today to help us win that fight in 2014”
Brown also says, “This is the man who, a couple of years ago, was warning that Obamacare was built on false promises, and would be a disaster. This is the candidate who called out Barack Obama on a bad economy that in two years hasn’t gotten any better. And this is a man who understands that without American leadership things unravel in the world. The innocent suffer, the sacrifices of our troops are squandered, the threats to our security multiply, just as we are seeing right now in the sixth year of this presidency.”
Brown says, “This election is America’s last chance to pass judgment on the performance of President Obama. He’s not on the ballot, but his biggest supporter in the Senate is Jeanne Shaheen, and the President needs her back.
“She votes more for the Obama agenda than even Harry Reid does,” Brown says. “ If we’re ever going to hold this President accountable, we have to hold Senator Shaheen accountable. The chance won’t come again, so let’s take it right now and turn this country around.”
New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley said, “Scott Brown’s record is clear: he sides with Big Oil, Wall Street, and the corporate special interests who pay for his campaigns. Now, they’re trying to buy him New Hampshire’s Senate seat.”
Buckley said Romney “has no credibility in New Hampshire,either. We haven’t forgotten his ’47 percent’ comments. And we know that he has never been working for the middle class families that are the backbone of our state.”
The New Hampshire Democratic Party also noted that Brown and Romney supported the Blunt Amendment, “which would allow restrictions even more extreme than those the Supreme Court allowed in” the so-called “Hobby Lobby” decision earlier in the week.
Women in the Granite State cannot trust Scott Brown to protect their interests,” said party spokesman Julie McClain.
Wednesday’s appearance is Romney’s first since Election Day 2012, when, after winning the New Hampshire GOP first –in-the-nation presidential primary handily, he lost the state in the general election to Obama.
He has insisted that he has no intention of running for President for a third time, but has become increasingly active in the mid-term elections. Besides jumping into a primary contest in New Hampshire – where Brown faces former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith and former state Sen. Jim Rubens – Romney has reportedly endorsed more than 30 candidates in abouttwo dozen states.
A recent Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll of New Hampshire Republicans and independents found Romney with more than a 2-1 advantage over his closest competitor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Romney was the choice of 24 percent of those polled as compared to 9 percent for Christie.