CONCORD — As he prepared to campaign with Republican Governors Association and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for the third time this summer, New Hampshire candidate for governor Walt Havenstein said Wednesday Christie is “doing a fine job” managing difficult circumstances in the Garden State.
New Jersey last week suffered its eighth bond downgrade since Christie has been governor. According to the Star-Ledger of Newark, the downgrade came in response to Christie’s budget proposal.
But Havenstein, appeared this afternoon with Christie in Nashua, said in an interview, “I think that Governor Christie provides strong leadership. He is taking on a very, very difficult circumstance and I think he’s doing a fine job.
“Frankly, I respect his performance and his leadership and I take his counsel seriously,” Havenstein said. “Having said that, he has a very different situation in New Jersey than we do in New Hampshire.”
In Nashua, Christie said the RGA is ready to spend significantly on Havenstein, although he would not provide a dollar figure. The RGA has reportedly already spent about $500,000 on Havenstein, whom it backed even before his primary victory last week over Andrew Hemingway.
Christie also campaigned this afternoon at the NHGOP field office in Salem with U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown.
Prior to Christie’s arrival, the Democratic National Committee issued a tough “memo” blasting Christie, Havenstein and Brown.
“As Maryland’s Walt Havenstein and Massachusetts’s Scott Brown campaign with New Jersey’s Christie, one thing is abundantly clear – all three of these Republicans stand at odds with New Hampshire’s values and priorities,” wrote DNC spokesman Ian Sams and state Democratic Party spokesman Julie McClain.
“Granite Staters want leaders who support equal pay for women, would push for raising the minimum wage and stand up for middle class families over special interests – including Wall Street and the Koch brothers. On all three counts, Republicans strike out. And what’s worse perhaps is that Brown and Havenstein are seeking to emulate Chris Christie’s disastrous economic record if they’re elected.”
The Democrats charged Christie and Havenstein have been failed chief executives and Christie and Brown are “big money’s favorite foot soldiers.”
Christie follows Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to New Hampshire. Paul, who is viewed as more conservative and more libertarian than Christie, was the guest speaker at last Friday’s NHGOP “Unity Breakfast.”
Havenstein said he is pleased Republicans of all stripes are supporting him “and we will continue to see that.”
He said he expects Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was in the state on Sept. 6, to return soon to help him. Jindal, another potential presidential candidate, is vice chairman of the RGA.
Gov. Maggie Hassan’s campaign this week unveiled a new television ad attacking Havenstein’s management of Science Applications International Corp., charging that he earned $20 million as the company “lost thousands of jobs” and “lost millions in revenue.”
The ad charges he took a “golden parachute” after “driving his company into the ditch.”
Havenstein, in the interview, said, “It is interesting that she is going negative so quickly on me.” He joked, “My wife keeps asking me: ‘Where did all the money go?’
The ad, said Havenstein, “shows (Hassan) doesn’t want to talk about the real issues. There are 106,000 of our citizens leaving the state every day to commute to work.” He said that Hassan calls the state’s slow economic growth “great,” but said it is “less than half of the national average.
“The fact is she embraces every failed policy of Barack Obama and she doesn’t talk about that. I can understand that. Her only hope is to go negative on me.”
Havenstein said dueing last Friday’s Unity Breakfast that Hassan “is spending the state toward an income tax.”
She has pledged to veto such a tax if it reached her desk, but Havenstein said in today’s interview, “The issue isn’t whether she would renege on that promise. That is not the underlying philosophy of the pledge. The underlying philosophy of the pledge is that you don’t commit the state to spending that you do not have the resources for. So that fact is that her Medicaid proposal would commit us to spending well beyond the means of the state. Her tendency to spend will drive us to a sales or income tax.
“The unfunded liability is the critical point here,” said Havenstein. “This is fiscal management 101, you cannot spend in a way that commits you to things you can’t fund in the future. She will kick the can down the road and leave the obligation to someone else, and that is irresponsible.”
In a statement, Hassan campaign manager Marc Goldberg said: “Governor Chris Christie has presided over record foreclosures, anemic job growth, and eight credit rating downgrades, yet Walt Havenstein continues to hold him up as a model for how to run a state. But even before Walt Havenstein started taking pointers from economic disaster Chris Christie, it was clear from Havenstein’s own failed record as CEO of SAIC that he would drive our state’s economy into a ditch.
“As CEO of SAIC, Havenstein implemented a failed strategy, the company shed thousands of jobs, and the stock price nose-dived, and Granite Staters can’t afford to let Walt Havenstein do to New Hampshire’s economy what he did to SAIC or what failed Governor Chris Christie has done to New Jersey,” said Goldberg.