John DiStaso's Granite Status: After day of good will at State House, Dems attack, GOP responds
By JOHN DiSTASO Senior Political Reporter
FRIDAY, JUNE 28: CAMPAIGN THEME PREVIEW? The state's Democratic Party chairman says Republicans have shown, 101 days after their well-publicized national "autopsy," that they are still out of touch with most Granite Staters and Americans.
Democrat Raymond Buckley's condemnation of his political foes came on a conference call Thursday, a day after there were wide-ranging expressions of goodwill at the State House over the bipartisan agreements on the state budget and other issues, such as narrowly aligning the state's insurance rules with the Affordable Care Act and final approval — as part of the budget — of a study of whether the state should embark on Medicaid expansion.
So while in some ways the timing was curious, in other ways it wasn't.
With the legislative session now finished, it appeared Buckley was laying the thematic groundwork for the 2014 campaign.
His message: The Republicans learned nothing from their heavy losses in the 2012 election.
State Republican chair Jennifer Horn reacted that state Democrats "are panicking" over the "scandals" being faced by President Barack Obama, by the growth of government and a growing unpopularity, she said, of the President's Affordable Care Act.
She said Republicans remain closer than Democrats to "New Hampshire's fiscally conservative values."
While in a post-election "autopsy," the Republican National Committee said the party should more effectively reach out to women, young people, African Americans and Hispanics, Buckley said, "those efforts have been an utter failure."
Buckley said Republicans in Washington and Concord have supported stronger anti-abortion legislation, "have tried to make voting harder and have opposed common sense reforms to reduce gun violence and continue to make embarrassments of themselves with the very same rhetoric that voters rejected last fall."
Buckley brought up resigned Rep. Stella Tremblay's claims of a government conspiracy surrounding the Boston bombings. He mentioned state Rep. Kyle Tasker's disparaging comments about African American women and state Rep. Peter Hansen's disparaging reference to all women. He mentioned that Tea Party Leader and former NHGOP Chair Jack Kimball sought having lawmakers who opposed the "stand-your-ground" law removed from office.
"The core of the Republican Party — its voters, its activists and its elected leaders — hold views that are out of touch and too extreme for the people of New Hampshire," Buckley said.
Former state Sen. Deb Reynolds of Plymouth said the state Republicans' "biggest crisis" was a "massive backlash" against Repuiblican Sen. Kelly Ayotte's vote against the Manchin-Toomey amendment expanding background checks for gun purchases.
A day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Reynolds said state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, while in Congress, was the only New England congressman to support constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Reynolds said at the State House, Republicans have "stood in the way" of Medicaid expansion and exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.
She noted that former House Speaker Bill O'Brien was part of a news conference this week opposing a compromise voter ID plan to allow student IDs as a valid form of identification for voting.
"It's important that while we celebrate the Republicans in yesterday's votes — whether it's voter ID or the budget and other issues — when you scratch the surface what you get is Jennifer Horn and Stella Tremblay and Tasker," said Buckley.
But Horn said Democrats are "panicking because they realize that the outrageous scandals that have plagued President Obama's second term have destroyed voter confidence in their party.
"Under President Obama, Jeanne Shaheen, Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster, our federal government has gone out of control and ordered politically motivated IRS investigations of law abiding Americans who disagree with their liberal agenda. They understand that Obamacare is a disaster that will increase the cost of heath care, crush small businesses and haunt them at the ballot box in 2014.
"Democrats have been disgraced by the intolerant remarks made by Rep. Cynthia Chase (who posted that Free Staters should be made to feel unwelcome and should leave the state), and by the conduct of former Rep. Stacie Laughton, a convicted felon who is now considering a political comeback with their party.
"Governor Hassan has been embarrassed as her reckless spending increases and crushing tax hikes were rejected in favor of Senate Republicans' fiscally responsible plan," said Horn. "Republicans are fed up with the Democrats' failed leadership in Washington and Concord and offer voters a new direction towards a brighter economic future."
She called Ayotte a "responsible and independent leader."