John DiStaso's Granite Status: Trump, Rand Paul, Huckabee, Gingrich among headliners for conservative ‘Freedom Summit’ in April
By John DiStaso, Senior Political Reporter
TUESDAY, FEB. 4: GOP PRESIDENTIAL PREVIEW? An all-star cast of national conservative leaders will gather in New Hampshire in April for the first-ever “Freedom Summit,” organized by Citizens United and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the Granite Status has learned.
The two advocacy groups said Tuesday that confirmed so far for the April 12 event at the Executive Court in Manchester are business magnate Donald Trump, Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, former Arkansas Gov. and Fox News Channel talk show host Mike Huckabee, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks.
The groups say additional speakers are expected to be announced in the near future.
The event comes as the 2014 mid-term election campaigns begin to ramp up and is timed to precede the income tax filing deadline of April 15.
But more significantly, it may also be a potential preview of at least part of the 2016 Republican presidential field.
Trump, Paul, Huckabee have flirted with the idea of running for President.
Trump was in the state just last month, featured at a “Politics and Eggs” event cosponsored by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and New England Council, pwhile Paul was here last May headlining a state Republican Party fund-raiser.
Huckabee, who finished third in the 2008 first-in-the-nation Republican presidential primary, last visited New Hampshire in May 2012, also for a state GOP fund-raiser.
Gingrich finished fifth in the 2012 New Hampshire GOP presidential primary, while Lee, an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act, just last week delivered the Tea Party response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
Blackburn has become a prominent conservative voice in the House, while Brooks heads one of the nation’s leading conservative think tanks.
Citizens United president David N. Bossie said in a statement, “I can think of no better place than the ‘Live Free or Die’ state to begin this dialogue on how to return our country back to a shining city upon a hill and return to the ideals of Ronald Reagan’s hope, growth and opportunity that have made our country a beacon of freedom around the globe.”
Tim Phillips, president of the AFP Foundation, said, “Set just three days before most Americans have to file their income taxes to pay for the burgeoning federal government, our Freedom Summit will provide an excellent opportunity for the hard-working people of New Hampshire to compare and contrast the direction in which our country is headed and how their tax dollars are being spent.”
Locally, AFP East Coast Regional Director Corey Lewandowski of Windham and AFP-New Hampshire director Greg Moore of Manchester are deeply involved in planning for the event.
“It promises to be the biggest event of the season in the Granite State,” Lewandowski said. “Once again, AFP will be leading the effort to set the narrative for the potential presidential candidates, and New Hampshire will be ground zero.”
Moore said the event, which is expected to have free admission, will most likely last the entire day.
“Obviously, this shows just how important New Hampshire is nationally to leaders of the conservative movement,” Moore said. “When groups like the Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Citizens United work together, we can certainly leverage our mutual interests to try to show people why we’re presenting a conservative alternative to what’s going on in Washington.”
(An earlier Granite Status report follows.)
TUESDAY, FEB. 4: CHAFFETZ HEADLINER. Outspoken U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, will visit New Hampshire on Feb. 20 to headline an event for the conservative issues group Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire.
Chaffetz will appear at a “Breakfast Briefing” on Benghazi, the “Fast and Furious” controversy and other key issues at the Airport Diner in Manchester at 7:30 to 9 a.m. The cost is $20 and includes a continental breakfast.
Chaffetz is a leading conservative voice on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Derek Dufresne, spokesman for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, said, “Especially considering New Hampshire’s own Rep. Annie Kuster’s dangerous lack of understanding surrounding the attack in Benghazi, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire looks forward to welcoming Rep. Jason Chaffetz to New Hampshire to discuss the impact this horrific event has had on American foreign policy.
“From Benghazi to the Fast and Furious scandal, Mr. Chaffetz has been a leading voice on these and other government reform issues in the House of Representatives,” Dufresne said in a statement.
(See earlier Granite Status reports elsewhere on this page or by clicking on “Granite Status” above.)