Young Republicans’ rally gives straw poll win to PaulBy GARRY RAYNO
New Hampshire Union Leader
August 20. 2011 7:34PM
NEW CASTLE - Sailboats gliding along the Atlantic Ocean provided the backdrop for a half-dozen Republican presidential candidates who pitched their ideas to about 350 or more Republicans.
Although he did not attend the New Hampshire Young Republican Federation's third annual lobster bake at the Great Island Common in New Castle, Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul celebrated his 76th birthday Saturday by handily winning the event's straw poll. He outdistanced second-place finisher Mitt Romney by a 45 percent to 10 percent ratio, with all the other candidates below 8 percent.
Ovide Lamontagne won the gubernatorial straw poll, which had 302 ballots cast.
Paul's campaign turned out a large contingent of supporters among the group. Romney's campaign did not have a large presence, and neither did Texas Gov. Rick Perry's nor former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's.
Paul's campaign distributed fans to cool off attendees, while Fred Karger and his campaign gave away 'Fred Frisbees.' Karger, a longtime political operative in California, had a bagpiper providing music, and Michigan U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter entertained the crowd on guitar before and after the candidates' speeches.
A 'new presidential candidate,' Chris Hill, a former Bedford resident, 1981 graduate of Manchester West High School and 1985 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, told the gathering the country needs congressional term limits, a national sales tax and to bring the troops home now.
Hill, who lives in Louisville, is a UPS commercial airline pilot and a former Desert Storm fighter pilot.
Republicans young and old turned out for the event under nearly perfect summer skies, and most were already committed to one presidential candidate or another.
'There are no losers here today. Every single person participating today is a winner,' said New Hampshire Young Republican Chairman David Hurst. 'The only loser here today is President Barack Obama.'
Obama took a beating from many at the event, including candidate and Atlanta businessman Herman Cain, who said the President's leadership deficit is the biggest crisis facing the country.
Along with Cain, Karger, McCotter and Hill, other candidates addressing the crowd were former New Mexican Gov. Gary Johnson and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer.
State Republican Party Chairman Jack Kimball, under fire from some of the party leadership recently, urged the participants to come together and unite for a common cause.
He said the country sits on a precipice, and it is up to the Republican Party to pull America back. 'But the only way for the Republican Party to do this is as a united party,' Kimball said.