March 05. 2014 1:34PM

Hassan misses meeting with Obama, prompting partisan charges, counter-charges

Staff Report

CONCORD – State Republicans charge that Gov. Maggie Hassan, for political reasons, purposely tried to avoid appearing with President Barack Obama by missing a meeting with the chief executive and other New England Democratic governors Wednesday afternoon.

State Democrats say the GOP accusation is a "pathetic political ploy."

Hassan's office says a scheduling conflict kept her from a 2:30 p.m. appearance at Central Connecticut State University on the federal minimum wage issue with Obama and fellow Democratic governors Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Peter Shumlin of Vermont.

Hassan is the lone New England Democratic governor who did not attend the event, where Obama was expected to push for increasing the federal hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is a Republican.

The only event on Hassan's public schedule for Wednesday was an 11 a.m. appearance in Bedford to help launch a New Hampshire Food Bank program.

State Republican Party Chairman Jennifer Horn issued a statement accusing Hassan of missing the meeting with Obama for political reasons.

"Governor Hassan could have made time in her schedule to meet with the President of the United States during his trip to New England like every other Northeast Democratic governor," Horn said.

"It is obvious that she is deliberately avoiding this event because she knows that President Obama's plummeting approval rating in New Hampshire could damage her reelection campaign. Governor Hassan can try to run from the President's abysmal record, but she can't hide from the fact that she has been a loyal supporter of his disastrous agenda and an enthusiastic proponent of ObamaCare."

Democrats pointed out, however, that less than two weeks ago, Hassan was with Obama in Washington. She attended a Democratic governor's meeting with Obama at the White House on Feb. 21, and then attended a National Governors Association dinner at the White House on Feb. 23 and another NGA meeting at the White House on Feb. 24.

New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein said of the GOP allegations, "This pathetic political ploy is a weak attempt to distract from the NHGOP's disastrous fiscal policies. The governor had a previously scheduled event with the New Hampshire Food Bank. Does Jennifer Horn really think the Governor should have canceled on a Granite State charity to attend an out-of-state press conference?"