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August 15. 2011 10:32PM

Chuck Douglas endorses Rick Perry’s candidacy

Chuck Douglas, one of a handful of prominent Granite State Republicans to urge Texas Gov. Rick Perry to enter the race two weeks ago, endorsed the candidate on Monday.

Douglas said he hopes his endorsement and that of other conservatives will give Perry the credentials he’s lacking due to a late entry into the crowded Republican primary field.

“I think he can be the strongest candidate next November,” said Douglas, a former congressman and state Supreme Court justice.

Meanwhile, the campaign of former Utah Gov. Jon Hunstman announced that Sarah Crawford Stewart, the New Hampshire campaign director for self-ousted Republican Tim Pawlenty, is joining the Huntsman campaign as a paid senior adviser.

“I think a lot of Pawlenty supporters are looking for someone who is not Mitt Romney,” said Michael Levoff, spokesman for the Huntsman campaign. “We offer the clear alternative to Mitt Romney.”

Highly prized for any Republican, Stewart would help Huntsman to develop a New Hampshire strategy and give the candidate access to a strong network of New Hampshire Republicans.

“I think Jon Huntsman’s very, very lucky to have Sarah Stewart. She’s one of the best in the state and a class act,” said Jennifer Horn, another Pawlenty supporter who is now being courted by Republican campaigns.

Horn said she’s taking her time considering an endorsement. She said she’s looking for someone, like Pawlenty, who is a strong conservative and can appeal to a wide range of Republican voters. She said strong, successful executive experience is also very important.

Earlier this month in Texas, New Hampshire Republicans told Perry he would have to spend time in New Hampshire doing retail politics, Douglas said. He said Perry agreed to do so, and said he liked the give-and-take of town meetings and small gatherings.

He acknowledged that some voters may not want another Texas Republican as President, but he distanced Perry from George W. Bush and his father.

“When you see and hear Rick Perry, he’s not one of the Bushes,” Douglas said. He said Perry didn’t attend prep schools or come from a wealthy family. Perry’s father was a West Texas rancher.

“Because he grew up in a small town,” Douglas said, “I know he connects with New Hampshire.”


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