SATURDAY, FEB. 21: TARGET KELLY. There is no presidential primary to speak of — at least not yet – on the Democratic side, and so the NHDP has been looking far ahead to the 2016 general election. And the goal has been to soften up Sen. Kelly Ayotte early – and often.
The NHDP on Friday hit Ayotte on two fronts. First came word of a digital Google ad campaign focusing on Ayotte’s support for a House-passed Department of Homeland Security bill that contains “riders” to override President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
The Google ads direct people to sign a petition that points out that Republican former Sen. Judd Gregg has been among those urging the current Senate Republicans to pass a “clean” DHS funding bill before current funding runs out on Feb. 28. Another has been Ayotte friend Sen. John McCain.
“Granite Staters need to know that Kelly Ayotte is putting our communities at risk as she holds funding for DHS hostage in order to appease her far-right base and position herself for a vice presidential nomination,” said NHDP chairman Ray Buckley.
Separate from the party, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen joined with four other Democratic senators on their own online petition to “tell Congress” – no mention of Ayotte – to pass a “clean” DHS funding bill “immediately.”
The NHDP also unveiled a mock Ayotte web site that has positioning herself as a vice presidential candidate. The theme that she is allegedly out for herself is reminiscent of the tack the party and Shaheen’s campaign took against Scott Brown in the 2014 election.
The “Ayotte” website was “found” by the NHDP on the same day she was traveling to Missouri to speak to a major GOP event. The Democrats are calling it a “vice presidential audition,” but also add the disclaimer that their site is a “work of parody.”
“Granite Staters deserve better than a politician who has already left them behind for a shot at national office,” Buckley said.
The NHDP efforts earned a sharp response from NHGOP Chair Jennifer Horn.
“Senator Ayotte has repeatedly voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security. Unfortunately, liberal Democrat senators including Jeanne Shaheen have blocked these commonsense efforts in order to protect President Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders that will grant amnesty to illegal immigrants,” Horn said. “During her 2014 reelection campaign, Senator Shaheen claimed to oppose the president’s executive actions and even voted with Senator Ted Cruz to block them. Senator Shaheen should stop playing politics with Department of Homeland Security funding and join Senator Ayotte in supporting legislation that will fund the agency and unravel President Obama’s unconstitutional executive actions that she once opposed.”
WELCOMING O’MALLEY. While the NHGOP accuses the NHDP of trying to “coronate” Hillary Clinton, it turns out the party will host a potential Clinton primary foe. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has rescheduled his mid-March visit to early March and will appear at a state party breakfast reception in Manchester just before the party’s state committee meeting at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
It’s a $50-a-person event, with sponsorships up to $1,000.
CRUZ ADDS A BIG STOP. Ted Cruz, when he stops in New Hampshire in mid-March, will be in southern New Hampshire as well as “up North.” We’ve already reported that he will keynote the Grafton County Republican Committee Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner on Sunday, March 15.
But as we first posted on Twitter Friday, Cruz has now scheduled an appearance at the traditional “Politics and Eggs” breakfast on Monday, March 16, at 8 a.m. The venue has yet to be announced. The breakfasts are usually held at either the Bedford Village Inn or the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. Former Ambassador John Bolton spoke at a “Politics and Eggs” event today and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is scheduled to speak on Tuesday.
“I’m excited to have Senator Cruz back in my home state of New Hampshire,” said his senior communications adviser Rick Tyler, a native of Hampton.
HERE WE GO. This week the primary campaign ramps up in earnest.
It begins on Monday when Sen. Rubio comes to the state for a stop in Hollis. Rubio will meet with area residents at the Lawrence Barn Community Center at and then head to a book signing of new “American Dreams” at the Barnes and Noble store in Manchester. And on Tuesday, Feb. 24, Rubio will address the aforementioned “Politics and Eggs” breakfast at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich will arrive in the state on Monday and head straight to Halligan’s Tavern in Derry for a meeting of fellow Republicans. On Tuesday, he will visit the Friendly’s Ice Cream restaurant in Concord, head to New England College in Henniker for a forum with students and then be the featured speaker at a Rockingham County Republican Committee reception in Portsmouth.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki will be in the state on Tuesday and Wednesday. He’ll hold several private meetings and do a WMUR “Conversation with the Candidates,” according to adviser Alicia Preston.
And of course on Wednesday Vice President Joe Biden will be in the state – on an official visit, ostensibly. He will deliver an economic policy speech at the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice Leadership and Public Policy at the UNH Law School in Concord. He will then participate in a roundtable discussion on higher education at Manchester Community College. Will we get a hint of his intentions?
Later in the week, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore will return to the state, with a schedule yet to be announced.
REARDON’S TWEET. The NHGOP tried to make some news this week out of a tweet by Shaheen legal counsel Judy Reardon that complimented Executive Councilor Chris Pappas and said he’d “make a great U.S. Senate candidate.”
The Republicans chided Sen. Shaheen’s “team” for “trying to undermine” Gov. Maggie Hassan’s “efforts to use the corner office as a stepping stone to advance her political career.”
But Reardon shot right back, tweeting “Oh, @NHGOP, I think there are a few people who can take on VP candidate Ayotte, including @GovernorHassan @ChrisPappasNH.”
All in good fun? Hmmm…maybe, maybe not..
NO ESCAPE. Speaking of good fun, Pataki adviser Alicia Preston was trying to have some fun on Friday, walking along St. Peters Street in New Orleans.
Preston tells us she stopped to pet a passerby’s dog. The owner asked her where she’s from.
“I tell him,” she writes. “He hands me a card says he’s going to NH soon because he’s running for President.”
Here’s his website, and here’s his card.
Writes Preston, “I can’t get away from it.” Indeed.
(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.)