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Dan Tuohy's Granite Status: Trump camp says 1,000 backers sign on in NH

October 14. 2015 8:25PM
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the No Labels Problem Solver Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire October 12, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder 

Presidential pacemaker Donald Trump has collected more than 1,000 Granite State endorsements.

That’s according to his campaign manager, Windham’s own Corey Lewandowski. Granite Status caught up to Lewandowski to scope out the state of the race and to ask, “Really, a thousand?”

“The state of New Hampshire has been very good to Mr. Trump,” he replied.

It’s a list of actual endorsements, he said, promising to forward it this week. Those endorsing the real estate mogul signed cards that indicate they are supporting Trump for President. The cards include wording along the lines of, “You can use my name in public.”

Not to sound a dubious note, but Trump and his mighty 1,000 (plus) puts him in an orbit of his own when it comes to endorsements. At least, so far. Campaigns tend to keep their official endorsements close to the vest. They aim to release them with maximum effect. And the calls, emails, and text messages to locals never really stop.

When Scott Walker quit, his rivals swooped in — a pack of prey dogs hungry for his supporters. Chomp, crunch, munch.

When told of Trump’s 1,000 (plus), a couple of GOP insiders guffawed in disbelief. Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul just celebrated reaching 300. Carly Fiorina, as of last week, had 68.

The number of people lining up behind Trump perhaps isn’t balderdash when one considers that his team, back in July, publicized around 300 names on various coalitions. As with any election, it will ultimately come down to how well campaigns organize and mobilize supporters to get out and vote.

Lewandowski said Trump just reaches more people than other candidates. File that under #HumbleBrag if you care to, but Trump is an ongoing case study in a different kind of grassroots, however sustainable it can be.

Lewandowski recalled a man showing up at Trump’s recent stop in Keene with 2,500 signs he had produced and handed out all on his own. That’s just the kind of thing that happens at Trump events, he said.

In the “by the numbers” ground game, we’ve learned that Team Trump has opened two additional offices in New Hampshire: 125 Main St. in Newmarket, and 141 Winchester St. in Keene, across the street from the college. (Scroll down to the end of the column for a searchable map of NH campaign offices - 35 and counting.)

And Lewandowski, in the interview, offered another number: 118 — the days counting down to the first-in-the-nation primary. 

Trump returns to New Hampshire on Oct. 26. His schedule includes a town hall meeting to be aired live on NBC News with Matt Lauer.

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THE CORNER OFFICE is the hot corner with an open race for governor. Democrat Colin Van Ostern has announced more than 500 people signing on to support his campaign for New Hampshire governor. The list includes U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-NH, former state party chairs Kathy Sullivan and Ned Helms, former New Hampshire House Democratic Leader Peter Burling, more than 30 state representatives, state Sens. David Watters of Dover and Dan Feltes of Concord, Martin Gross, former Lebanon Mayor Karen Liot Hill, Pip and Tanna Clews of Portsmouth, non-profit leader Lew Feldstein, and Deb Crapo of Rye. And so on. Van Ostern, an executive councilor who lives in Concord, announced his campaign last week. Is this roll-out a “shock and awe” message to potential rivals, perhaps Portsmouth City Councilor Stefany Shaheen or former N.H. Securities Regulation Director Mark Connolly, for the Democratic Party nomination?

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IN RELATED GUBERNATORIAL news, state Rep. Frank Edelblut, R-Wilton, launched a new, interactive website as he explores a run for governor:

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GROWING his base, Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio continued outreach Wednesday with a house party in Portsmouth and remarks at the Adams Memorial Opera House in Derry. He visited Bedford, Manchester, Dover, and Wolfeboro last week. The campaign press paid off: Rubio welcomes 20 community leaders and activists to his team. They are: Raul Blanche of Hollis, Kathy Bove of Londonderry, Anne Emily Caplin of Portsmouth, Rep. Brian Chirichiello of Derry, Peggy Carter of Dover, Neil DeLuca of Derry, LindaMarie Denault of Plaistow, Paul Finer of Derry, Joan Gittlein of Rye, Dr. Jonathan Greenblatt of Bedford, Martha Haley of Dover, Dee Ide of Wolfeboro, Dr. Sarit Itenberg of Bedford, Robert Jursik of Epsom, Johnnie Koromilas of Dover, Suzan Lehmann of Concord, David Sherman of New Boston, Norm Silber of Gilford, John Southwell of Alton, and Henry Veilleux of Bedford. Sherman is a former Scott Walker supporter.

[Rubio: Democratic debate something "from 1985"]

Have a news tip? Email it to – Follow on Twitter: @tuohy and @Unionleader

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A CAUCUS, in New Hampshire? The 603 Alliance, a group of conservatives, is throwing a “Grassroots Presidential Selection” caucus Saturday at the Hopkinton Fairgrounds. “By holding this GPS Caucus, we seek to level the playing field and reach a consensus to select a true constitutional conservative to represent us in the office of President of the United States,” organizers say in a letter to attendees. “Our mission is to unite like-minded voters, exercising their personal responsibility, to join forces behind the candidate who will promote our individual liberties and support free enterprise, thus bringing us back to a state of freedom and prosperity.”

Founders of the 603 Alliance will pledge to support the caucus winner in the New Hampshire primary, which is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 9. It’s free. Participants, registered Republicans and undeclared voters, must present a photo identification. It starts at about 11:30 a.m., and may last two to three hours.

A quick rundown of how it will work, according to 603 Alliance: The voting process will start with designated marshals counting off voters assembled in each section. The two lowest counts will be eliminated, as well as any candidates with fewer than 25 supporters during the first round of voting. Between votes, those voters supporting eliminated candidates will be assimilated into other groups. Voting rounds continue, eliminating two per round, until four remain. Each of the four candidates left, or their designed surrogates, can speak. Voting rounds then continue, eliminating one per round, until a caucus winner is declared.

Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz of Texas and former New York Gov. George Pataki are expected to attend, according to 603 Alliance co-founder Fran Wendelboe. While Republican Rand Paul will be just down the street on Saturday morning -- Contoocook, at the home of Ron Noyes -- he will not be attending.

Mike Biundo, senior adviser to Paul, made it known to Granite Status on Wednesday that the Paul folks believe in the New Hampshire primary, not in a caucus.

"Speaking as a NH resident and defender of the wisdom and tradition of the NH primary, I am concerned about the organizers choice to make this event a caucus and not a traditional straw poll," Biundo emailed us. "In doing so they are asking people to 'assimilate into other groups' and pledge their support. That just is not how we do things in NH."

Biundo went on to note Paul won the Republican Liberty Caucus straw poll last weekend, as well as the Concerned Taxpayers of NH straw poll in July.

Cruz came in a close second in the RLC straw poll.

What was left unsaid by Biundo, and others, is that Paul supporters believe some of the 603 Alliance organizers are in the tank for Cruz. It likely did not go unnoticed that Wendelboe was quoted in HuffPost saying Paul was "running on fumes" in New Hampshire, and that his supporters were migrating to Cruz and Donald Trump.

• So if Cruz and Pataki are the only candidates addressing the GPS caucus, could it sow the seeds of a potential Cruz-Pataki ticket? A Cruz adviser just laughed at that tandem.

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[Morse endorses Jeb Bush]

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BACK TO NEW HAMPSHIRE: Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has a two-day campaign swing Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the Democratic presidential hopeful’s schedule includes speaking to an affordable housing forum at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at 8:45 a.m., a 1 p.m. conversation with NH Technical Institute students in Concord, a town hall meeting at the Top of the Hop at Dartmouth in Hanover at 4:30 p.m., and a town hall meet at the Plymouth Senior Center at 7 p.m. O’Malley on Saturday has a town hall meeting at Wayfarer Coffee Roasters in Laconia, and a 5 p.m. town hall meet at Peddler’s Daughter in Nashua.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton of New York makes her 11th trip to New Hampshire on Friday. She has a town hall meeting at Keene State College at 12:15 p.m., followed by a rally at Nashua Community College at 5:15 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also returns Friday. The Republican presidential candidate is set to speak to the housing summit at the NHIOP at 3 p.m. and then officially open his New Hampshire headquarters at 4 p.m. The Christie for President office is at 20 Washington Place, Bedford.

Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul will let it roll in a “Bowling for Liberty” event Friday at 7 p.m. at Sparetime Lanes in Manchester. On Saturday, he’s at Tucker’s Restaurant in Hooksett at 8 a.m., a house party in Contoocook at 9:30 a.m., and at the American Legion in Ashland at 2 p.m. On Sunday, Paul hits the Dalton Gang Gun Range at 8 a.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich unveils his big economic plan at 10:30 a.m. today at Nashua Community College. The Republican presidential hopeful’s campaign referred to it as a plan to “get money, power and influence out of Washington” and return it to Americans. He offered a sneak peek in Bow earlier this week, and it includes culling some federal bureaucracy, including the Department of Education, and sending block grants back to the states.

[Kasich stumps in the North Country]

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THE FIRST Democratic presidential debate Tuesday in Las Vegas gave America a chance to see former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. The media attention remains trained on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Pundits, including Donald J. Trump, gave props to Clinton as the most seasoned debater in the bunch. She likely hasn’t smiled so widely since the birth of her granddaughter. And Sanders got his first national debate under his belt. His campaign reported having raised $1.3 million in the first four hours after the debate began.

Who do you think won the first Democratic presidential debate? Tweet your pick using the hashtag #GraniteStatus.

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“IT IS A LONG WAY to Tipperary,” and some days it feels longer to primary day. So there’s plenty of time for Granite Staters to weigh the candidates and their messages. This came to mind chatting with former New Hampshire House Speaker Donna Sytek this week. “The more I see the more interesting the candidates become,” she said. “I’ve narrowed it down to five and the order of finish changes daily.”

Sytek, after listening to Jeb Bush speak at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on Tuesday, said her five are: Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio.

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[As itinerant leaf-peeper Lindsey Graham barnstorms the North Country, the candidate focuses on jobs and national security]

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Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican presidential hopeful from Louisiana, is criticizing the entry criteria for the next GOP presidential debate hosted by CNBC and calling on the Republican National Committee to make it a fair process. Jindal complains that the criteria don’t take into account poll performance in early voting states, like Iowa and New Hampshire. “By ignoring the early states and instead only looking at meaningless national name ID polls, the networks are in effect trying to create a national primary,” he said. “They are attempting to winnow the field long before the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire get to cast their ballots by restricting access to debates.”

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Quick takes:

• Christie’s secret weapon: His First Lady. Mary Pat Christie has probably logged more time on the campaign trail than any candidate’s spouse. She’s back Friday, in a solo appearance, in a 9 a.m. breakfast at the home of Republican National Committeewoman Juliana Bergeron in Keene. Bergeron is neutral in the primary. The event is hosted by the Cheshire Republican Women’s Club, the county GOP, and New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women.

• Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has a Massachusetts rally Friday at Tyngsborough Elementary School. It’s in the Bay State, but the Boston media market will have some splash in southern New Hampshire.

• U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, a two-term Democrat representing New Hampshire’s 2nd District, sent out a fundraising email blast Wednesday saying that two well-known Republicans are considering challenging her in 2016: State Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, and House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan, R-Brookline. There are other rumblings about former state Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker, R-Concord.

• U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, R-NH, will hold a town hall meeting tonight at 5 p.m. at Merrimack Town Hall. The 1st District congressman continues to gear up for a re-election battle following the Federal Election Commission finding earlier this year that he broke the law in 2010 by accepting excessive, illegal contributions. Guinta settled the case to get beyond it, but his quarterly fundraising report will indicate how much that scandal is lingering.

• Former New York Gov. George Pataki continues with a full-court press in New Hampshire as a way to launch into a higher stratosphere. The Republican presidential hopeful is scheduled to be in Manchester on Saturday. His schedule includes knocking on doors with Mayor Ted Gatsas, who’s running for re-election.

Dan Tuohy covers politics and government for the Union Leader and Sunday News. Email news and information to Follow on Twitter: @tuohy.

Politics Granite Status Martin O'Malley Ted Cruz

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