Dan Tuohy's Granite Status: Trump's list gives some a surprise
Some of Donald Trump’s town chairmen aren’t actually supporting him.
A few Granite Staters were surprised to see their names on the billionaire’s list of town chairmen, according to multiple news reports. A couple even told the media they may instead vote for a different Republican presidential candidate.
One headline sounds like it was plucked from The Onion, which specializes in satire.
“Reporter stunned to see he’s Trump’s Tamworth chair,” read the headline in The Conway Daily Sun.
The reporter, Daymond Steer, explained in the Sun article that his name was somehow added to the endorsement list when he was surfing the Trump website for a story. The Trump campaign has since rectified the mistake.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Steer said he wasn’t quite sure how the mix-up occurred. He underscored that he remains neutral.
The Valley News reported Wednesday that Trump’s Woodsville town chairman, Nancy Partington, intends to vote for Republican Jeb Bush. The newspaper’s story, “Trump May Have Jumped Gun in N.H.,” also notes that the candidate’s Lebanon chairman is not yet an American citizen.
There’s another Lebanon connection with Trump drama. Back in July, Trump’s Grafton County chairman Raul Cervantes jumped ship after Trump’s controversial remarks on illegal immigrants from Mexico. Cervantes, who lives in Lebanon, is originally from Mexico. He and his wife, Karen, are now Lebanon city co-chairmen for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
John Hartman, listed as Trump’s chairman in Eaton, is also no longer going by that honorary title. He tells Granite Status that he remains neutral because he is a chairman of his town’s Republican committee. He says it’s no big deal.
“I guess they made a mistake,” Hartman said. “The Trump organization is quite aggressive, which they should be.”
The Trump campaign has rolled out plenty of additional endorsements, from town and county chairmen to a veterans coalition. As Granite Status has previously reported, the campaign’s voter commitment cards typically include language that a person assents to their name being used in public.
Whether his list of 200 town chairmen is light a few names, even his rivals cannot ignore that Trump has mustered considerable local endorsements in the first primary state. But do all these likely voters know they made the list? And the most important question: Will they cast a ballot for Trump on Feb. 9?
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DONALD TRUMP RETURNS to New Hampshire on Tuesday. He’s scheduled to speak at Stevens High School in Claremont at 7 p.m. It’s billed as a campaign rally, and not a town hall meeting. This high school has served as a venue for some great political oratory in the past, including former President George H.W. Bush and the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the 1980s.
When Trump spoke in Nashua on Monday night, he spent almost a quarter of his time blasting the press and criticizing Joseph W. McQuaid, after the Union Leader publisher’s front page editorial that Trump’s campaign “insults New Hampshire voters’ intelligence.” The credentialed members of the media were kept at the back of the gymnasium. Scott Spinucci, an independent documentary film producer who had a ticket to be inside, says he was thrown out by Secret Service agents after one security official told him his camera was too professional looking. Russ Choma, a reporter for Mother Jones (and a former Union Leader reporter), reports that he was denied entry to the Nashua rally.
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SEN. BERNIE SANDERS blasted Donald Trump as “a pathological liar” for accusing him of wanting to raise tax rates to 90 percent. The Democratic presidential hopeful issued a statement after Trump raised the issue during a rally in South Carolina. “It appears that Donald Trump, a pathological liar, simply cannot control himself. He lies, lies and lies again,” Sanders said. “Today, he repeated his lie that I want to raise taxes to 90 percent. Totally untrue. And PolitiFact gave Trump’s same statement last October a ‘Pants-on-Fire’ rating. What is true is that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, billionaires like Trump should pay their fair share of taxes. Unlike Trump, who wants to give huge tax breaks to his fellow billionaires and large multi-national corporations, what we need is real tax reform which asks the very wealthiest people in this country and large, profitable corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes.”
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THE PRIMARY SPRINT is on, and at least nine candidates will criss-cross the Granite State to start off 2016. Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie has a town hall meeting at the American Legion in Merrimack at 5 p.m. Sunday, a meeting at Abbot-Downing School in Concord at 6 p.m. Monday, and a meeting at the American Legion in Rochester at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Democrat Hillary Clinton holds town hall meetings Sunday at Hood Middle School in Derry at 12:15 p.m., Concord High School at 3 p.m., and Keene High School at 6:30 p.m.
Democrat Bernie Sanders is due back Sunday as well. Sanders has a roundtable discussion with seniors at the Londonderry Senior Center at 10:30 a.m., a town hall meeting at the Timberlane Performing Arts Center in Plaistow at noon, and a town hall meeting at Rockingham Ballroom in Newmarket at 3 p.m. On Monday, the Vermont senator will hold a town hall meeting at Manchester Community College at 6:30 p.m.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is back for a two-day swing starting Monday morning with coffee stops at Harvey’s and Weeks Backstreet Kitchen in Dover, before a town hall meeting at Belknap Mill in Laconia at 7 p.m. On Tuesday, the Republican hopeful holds a town hall meeting at Exeter Town Hall at 6:30 p.m.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich returns Monday, and his schedule includes a town hall meeting at the Alpine Club in Manchester at 6:30 p.m.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has a packed week, starting with a meeting at PRG Rugs in Nashua on Monday at 6:30 p.m. She and fellow Republican Jim Gilmore plan to address the New Hampshire House of Representatives on Jan. 7
Candidates will also be swinging by the New Hampshire Primary Student Convention at the Radisson in Manchester from Jan. 4-6.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is back Jan. 5-6. His schedule includes a town hall meeting in Dover on Tuesday, and a similar meeting the next day in Meredith. Times and other events to be announced.
Former President Bill Clinton makes his first campaign swing on behalf of Hillary Clinton this Monday. Clinton is scheduled to be at Nashua Community College at 11:30 a.m., and at Exeter Town Hall at 5:15 p.m.
And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio returns Sunday. He has a 12:30 p.m. event at the Atkinson Country Club, where he and supporters will be watching the Patriots-Dolphins game.
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FILE THIS UNDER Underdog. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s campaign continues to try to rally support for another Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire before Feb. 9. As the Union Leader first reported, O’Malley’s state director called on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign to join forces to pressure the Democratic National Committee to squeeze in one more. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn’t budging on the schedule, which O’Malley says is rigged in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton. Sanders has said that more debates would help promote the Democrats. O’Malley’s campaign, though, questions if Sanders is really serious about calling for more debates.
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FINANCIAL DEADLINE time finds the candidates asking people for a final donation in 2015 to help make their 2016 dreams come true. Former President George H.W. Bush, in an email pitch for his son, Jeb, writes, “My 91 years of experiences in and out of politics lead me to believe this is one of the most consequential elections of my lifetime.”
With his sights set on a $500,000 fundraising goal by Dec. 31, Republican Rand Paul writes in a blast, “I don’t have Wall Street or special interests handing over fat checks to my campaign. They know I’m not ‘their guy.’”
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JEB BUSH is rolling out nine new endorsements: Salem Selectman Everett McBride, Brookfield Selectman Ernie Brown, Berlin activist Tom Pickford, Nashua activist Paul Schibbelhute, Manchester activist Bill Olender, former Portsmouth Mayor Peter Weeks, former Dover Citizen of the year Jim Kageleiry, and former state Reps. Fred Peyron of Newport and Chris Reid of Dover.
Bush has pulled ads from Iowa, in a possible indication of the Republican's struggle to breakthrough in the Hawkeye State, and his campaign plans to reassign staff members from its Miami headquarters to first-in-the-nation New Hampshire. Jesse Hunt, a Bush spokesman in the Granite State, called it "an incremental deployment" of resources to New Hampshire. Bush now has 20 staffers and five offices in New Hampshire. The tactical decisions will mean another 20 or so people reallocated to New Hampshire, starting next week.
The moves underscore the importance of the first primary state for Bush as he struggles to regain standing in the crowded Republican field.
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• Primary push, part II: The Ted Cruz campaign last week announced its “New Hampshire Strike Force,” an effort to mobilize conservative activists to come to the state to help spread the Republican hopeful’s message.
• What’s out for 2016: Eight presidential hopefuls quit the race before the new year even arrived. The Republican ending their White House hopes: George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker and Rick Perry. The Democrats calling it quits: Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb, and Lawrence Lessig.
• What’s in for 2016: With 40 days to go, New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary has once again captured America’s attention. The national press glommed onto poll after poll, but the candidates kept coming, from Coos to the Sea. Have a Happy New Year.
Dan Tuohy covers politics and government for the Union Leader and Sunday News. Email news and information to email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @tuohy