WEDNESDAY, JAN. 21: PAYING TRIBUTE. Former Gov. John H. Sununu is not known for being a quiet man, but he has been working quietly for many months on a new book about his old boss, former President George H.W. Bush.
Sununu, the former three-term governor, was Bush’s chief of staff from 1989 to 1991 after guiding then-Vice President Bush through a contentious 1988 first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
The book is scheduled for a June release, and according to a description on Amazon.com, it is a “major reassessment” and “long overdue appreciation” of Bush “and his universally underrated and misunderstood presidency.” It is billed as a “unique insider account.”
(Thursday, Jan. 22 Update:)
Sununu said in an interview Thursday that he took about a year to write the book, and finished it in October of last year.
“I had always said I wasn’t going to write a book,” he said. “But I talked to the President and he was excited about the idea of having me write about what we accomplished during his presidency.”
Sununu said the Bush 41 presidency was underrated “especially on the domestic side. I think people will be astounded when the read the book and are reminded how the good, solid programs – especially the unpopular 1990 budget deal – created the growth period of the 1990s.”
Although Sununu resigned amid controversy in 1991, “We had a great relationship all the time. In good times and in bad we stayed close. I think his presidency is one of the greatest presidencies this country has had.”
(Our full Saturday, Jan. 17, Granite Reports follows.)
SATURDAY, JAN. 17: PERRY SCHEDULE FIRMING UP. Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as of Tuesday, and his schedule for his first 2015 visit to New Hampshire on Feb. 11 and 12 is firming up.
We have already reported that he will be the keynote speaker at the Strafford County Lincoln Day Dinner on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m., at the Cottage-by-the-Bay in Dover. We’ve now learned that he will also appear at a business roundtable in Manchester at 12 noon on Feb. 11, with the location to be announced. He will also appear at the Seacoast Republican Women’s Club dinner at the Portsmouth Country Club, also on Feb. 11, at 5 p.m.
TWO PRIMARIES? Finally, Jeb Bush broke the ice in New Hampshire. His first call, as the New Hampshire Journal reported first on Thursday night, was to Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, and NH1 News reported on Friday first reported that Sen. Kelly Ayotte also was called.
But where does Bush go now in New Hampshire for support? That’s the question. Can he peel the Romney faithful away? If both run, would Ayotte – for instance — leave Romney, whom she backed in the 2012 primary campaign and support Bush?
Will Ayotte endorse at all, given that she’ll be up for reelection in the fall of 2016 and will clearly need a united party behind her if she hopes to win reelection? And of course, the ultimate question, do Granite State rank-and-file primary voters really care who endorses whom?
Sure, things could change tomorrow, but right now, it certainly looks like Romney and Bush will have a showdown in New Hampshire for the mantle of “establishment” leader. Chris Christie came to the state five times for candidate for governor Walt Havenstein last year, and built up some good will among the establishment GOP. But now, with both Romney and Bush apparently getting in, expectations for him are lowered.
And that may be a good thing for Christie. If he finishes second to, say, Romney – ahead of Bush – he could call that a victory in a state in which Romney has a home and will have been a candidate three times.
But there could be a second primary – a conservative primary. Right now, Rand Paul is the leader of that faction, and he is challenging both Romney and Bush for the overall frontrunner position.
But if Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum get into the race, Paul will have to watch his back. There will be a battle unfolding for the conservative mantle.
Come February of 2016, watch for a dual primary of sorts underway – the Romney, Bush, Christie primary. And the conservative primary, with Paul, Perry, Cruz, Scott Walker, etc. The question is, which of these conservatives will play hard in New Hampshire?
Clearly, Paul will. We’re told Perry will not repeat his 2012 mistake and will be “all in” in the Granite State. But what of Huckabee, Rubio and Cruz? Will they play or concede the state?
Just a few of the many questions to be answered as the campaign gets underway.
LOOKING AHEAD. While Democrats in New Hampshire are patiently waiting for Hillary, they are looking ahead to the 2016 general election, and there is much behind-the-scenes talk about potential candidates for key offices.
There is growing interest in the possibility of Attorney General Joe Foster running for governor if Gov. Maggie Hassan runs for U.S. Senate. And we understand that Foster is showing interest as well.
Separately, leading Democrats are holding serious discussions to draft Manchester Executive Councilor Chris Pappas to run for the 1st District U.S. House seat. The feeling is that while former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter could well be a favorite in the presidential year of 2016, it is questionable whether she could hold the seat in the mid-term election of 2018. Millionaire businessman Shawn O’Connor, who is very interested in seeking the seat, could be painted as a carpetbagger, these Democrats fear, because he relocated relatively recently from New York.
Also, more immediately, while Patrick Arnold has announced his candidacy for Mayor, he is not the lone Democrat interested in the seat. Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig was burning up the phone lines this week making fundraising calls for her anticipated run.
NUMBER 7. New Hampshire will get only one GOP presidential candidates debate sanctioned by the Republican National Committee under the schedule unveiled on Friday by the RNC debates committee, chaired by New Hampshire RNC member and former NHGOP chair Steve Duprey.
Why not New Hampshire first? It’s simple, said Duprey. He said the RNC had instructed his debate committee that there should be only a single debate in each of the early states, and also that it wanted the debates to begin at the summer RNC meeting in Ohio, which is, of course a major swing state in the general election. Cleveland will also be the site of the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Given those instructions, Duprey said, it would simply have made no sense to have a debate in New Hampshire six months before the primary.
As a result, New Hampshire’s lone debate on the Republican side — at least the only sanctioned debate – will be in early February on ABC affiliate WMUR. That’s a far cry from past cycles in which there were at least three – and sometimes more – debates in New Hampshire.
But the RNC is carrying through on its promise to control and limit this cycle’s debate schedule, after more than 20 debates in the last cycle exhausted the candidates, bored the public and turned the campaign into a debate competition.
WHAT ABOUT RON? When Rand Paul was in New Hampshire on Wednesday he called Mitt Romney “yesterday’s news” and said that running for a third time is at least one time too many. He likened running time and time again to Einstein’s definition of insanity.
But someone near and dear to Rand Paul ran three times for President – his own father. Ron Paul, of course, was the Libertarian candidate for President in the general election of 1988 and was a Republican candidate in 2008 and 2012.
Romney supporter Tom Rath tells Granite Reports the Romney camp is “taking a pretty heavy amount of incoming on the ‘third time’ issue, but I don’t think anyone is panicking. It is early, and that will die out, and besides, if Ronald Reagan had listened to people who said that, he never would have been President.”
RNC POST. State GOP Chair Jennifer Horn was elected by acclamation on Friday as the Northeast representative on the Republican National Committee Executive Committee. Horn replaced Susie Hudson of Vermont, who did not seek reelection to the post.
It’s an influential spot for Horn as she enters her second term as NHGOP chair and as she prepares to be at the center of the GOP presidential primary campaign.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this important position and want thank my fellow committee members for their support,” Horn said in a statement. “This position will give me an expanded opportunity to serve New Hampshire Republicans and educate the RNC Executive Committee about our state’s important role in the presidential nominating process and our proud political traditions.”
The last Granite State Republican to hold the post was Duprey, from 1997 to 2001.
OF NOTE: Rand Paul’s organization has still not provided a source for his declaration on Wednesday that more than half of the people who are on Social Security Disability Insurance don’t deserve the federal assistance and are gaming the system. The New Hampshire Journal has asked three times, most recently yesterday.
_ Democratic Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern will be honored on Thursday with NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire’s “Champion of Choice” award at the group’s annual at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord. The award will cite him as having demonstrated “exceptional leadership in service of protecting women’s health.”
_ Sen. Jeanne Shaheen will host will host Bill McQuillen, a Portsmouth firefighter and Secretary-Treasurer of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, as her guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union address to show her appreciation for the state’s first responders.
_ State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from New England College on Jan. 21 for his service to New Hampshire and his work to improve the state’s educational opportunities. D’Allesandro will deliver the the keynote address at New England College’s Founders Day Ceremony that day.
_ As we’ve reported, the “Run Warren Run” campaign to draft Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for President will hold its first New Hampshire organizational meeting today at 12 noon at the Waumbec Mill in Manchester.
_ Gov. Hassan is asking for suggestions on budget priorities in an online survey on the DemocratAction.com website. (link)
(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political reporter/columnist in New Hampshire. He has been reporting on Granite State politics since 1980. Watch for updates of his Granite Reports column and of course separate stories on NHJournal.com as news breaks. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)