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Democrats rally for campaign fight

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 16. 2012 11:03PM

MANCHESTER - About 400 Democrats were told at a rally Friday that they need to defeat a Republican Party that is out of touch with average Americans.

State Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said at the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner at the Executive Court in Manchester that the 'top priority' for state Democrats is to win enough seats in the state House of Representatives to take the leadership position away from House Speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon.

'There is nothing more important in the state of New Hampshire than to get rid of that baboon,' Buckley said.

'If tonight's turnout is any indication of what's going to happen in November, then we're going to have a very good year,' he said.

U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., chairman of the House Democratic caucus, said during his keynote address that Republicans, when they ascend to power, become 'indifferent' to people in need, such as those who rely on Medicare and college students, and have taken a hostile position toward women's health and same-sex marriage.

'We all know Republicans who are decent people who care as deeply about our country as we do,' he said. 'But they're just so dug in on the other side.'

The night featured speeches from U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., as well as Democratic candidates for governor and Congress, though Andrew Hosmer used his turn at the podium to drop out of the race for the 1st Congressional District and announce his candidacy for state Senate. His departure leaves Carol Shea-Porter, who served two terms in Congress, and Joanne Dowdell in the primary race to determine who faces off against U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H.

'The Republicans have said their number-one priority is make Barack Obama a one-term President,' Dowdell said. 'I ask you to join with me and make Frank Guinta a one-term congressman.'

Ann McLane Kuster, who is running against U.S. Rep. Charles Bass, R-N.H. for the 2nd Congressional District seat, told the crowd that, with the economy starting to recover, Republicans have slowed down criticism of Democrats on economic issues to focus on social issues. She and several other speakers criticized recent state and national efforts by Republicans to block funding to agencies such as Planned Parenthood and to allow employers with religious objections to exclude contraceptive coverage from employee health insurance plans.

'If they want to make this election about values, let's go at it,' she said to loud applause. 'I believe in less government interference when making private, personal choices.'

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former state Sen. Maggie Hassan said she learned determination and perseverance from her son, who she said graduated from high school despite being severely physically disabled.

'I learned as Ben's mom that no matter how insurmountable the challenges may be, if we work together we can achieve our goals,' she said.

Hassan is in a primary contest against former state Sen. Jackie Cilley.

'I will not apologize for standing up for the rights of our citizens,' Cilley said. 'And I believe citizens will not apologize for standing up for their rights. They've seen the dark side of the underbelly of Tea Party Republicans and they are horrified.'

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