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John DiStaso's Granite Status: VP Biden, First Lady and Jill Biden to join Obama in Portsmouth next Friday

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 02. 2012 1:26PM

SUNDAY, SEPT. 2, UPDATE: OBAMAS, BIDENS IN PORTSMOUTH. An Obama campaign official said today the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth will be the setting for next Friday's campaign visit by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.

New Hampshire will be their first stop after the close of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, the official confirmed.

After leaving New Hampshire the Obamas and Bidens will travel to Iowa, which, like New Hampshire, is not only a key state in the presidential nominating process, but is also an important swing state in the general election.

The official said ticket and logistical information for the Portsmouth event will be announced in the coming days.

Members of the public can visit or text NH to 62262 to receive event updates, the official said.

See our earlier reports on the post-convention visit below.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

SATURDAY , SEPT. 1, UPDATE: JOINING BARACK. President Barack Obama will not be alone when he comes to New Hampshire the day after giving his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention.

When he arrives on Sept. 7, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden will be with him, a campaign official told the Granite Status today.

It appears to be his first stop, or one of his first stops, after the convention.

(The full Aug. 30 Granite Status follows.)

THURSDAY, AUG. 30: BARACK COMING BACK. President Barack Obama will return to New Hampshire for a campaign visit Friday, Sept. 7, the day after he will speak to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

No further details on the trip were available Wednesday and probably won't be known for a few days.

It's unclear if New Hampshire will be Obama's very first post-Charlotte stop, but the campaign's decision to have him come here the day after he accepts his party's nomination and delivers his acceptance speech is more evidence of the hotly contested nature of the general election in New Hampshire.

It shows the importance the Obama campaign is placing on the state, despite the fact that it has only four electoral votes.

Obama last campaigned in the state less than two weeks ago, visiting Windham and Rochester Aug. 18. He previously campaigned in Durham June 25 and made an official White House visit to Nashua back on March 1.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has also placed much emphasis on winning New Hampshire. He has campaigned here numerous times since winning the presidential primary in January, most recently with running mate Paul Ryan Aug. 20. Ryan then returned last Saturday, visiting a Manchester restaurant and keynoting a GOP fundraiser.

Romney has a home in Wolfeboro and has spent much private time there as well this summer.

After Romney delivers his acceptance speech tonight in Tampa, he and Ryan will head to Virginia, another important swing state.

Obama's visit will also come just four days before the Sept. 11 state primary election. It will be interesting to see whether Democratic candidates for governor and other contested races attend the President's event or focus on their own events. Most likely, they'll try to do both.

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SMITH GOES ON THE ATTACK. Trailing in fundraising and recent polling and losing the newspaper editorial endorsement race, Kevin Smith is pressing forward with criticism of fellow Republican candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne.

In what the Lamontagne campaign calls a sign of desperation, Smith this week targeted Lamontagne's recent comment that as governor, he would fight for repeal of an 1877 constitutional amendment barring tax dollars from being used for religious schools.

Lamontagne said repeal would facilitate a voucher system providing funding for students to attend private schools. Exactly which religious schools should benefit from the publicly funded vouchers should be decided by policy-makers, Lamontagne said.

Smith said Lamontagne was avoiding substantive discussion of the issues facing the state.

'Ovide's personal opinion about funding for religious schools is not the problem,' Smith said in a statement. 'The problem is that instead of promoting more pressing and more achievable reforms that directly impact our economic future, Ovide's out there picking fights he can't win and that distract from the main issues.

'What's more puzzling is that Ovide purports to be the education guy, because he once served on the (state) Board of Education almost 20 years ago, and yet he's dedicated all of three sentences on his website to education reform.

'Does he really want to make the repeal of a 135-year old amendment his fourth sentence?'

Smith said the election 'is about the economy and jobs, not a century-old clause that bans state funding for religious schools.'

He said that in contrast to his own 'disciplined' approach to improving jobs and the economy, Lamontagne 'has not shown discipline on this and other issues, and he's not focused on the right things, which is another reason why I am better positioned to be our party's strongest nominee in November.'

A Smith advisor added that Lamontagne is trying to get through the primary race 'on name ID' and by talking about things that have 'no relation to the issues that are most important to the voters this election - the economy and jobs.'

Lamontagne spokesman Tom Cronin said, 'As Kevin knows, Ovide was responding to a direct question on school choice in New Hampshire, an issue he has been an advocate for and strongly supports. Unfortunately, we've entered the phase of the primary when desperate campaigns begin to attack and go negative, leading Mr. Smith to a new low in attacking Ovide, a proven leader who understands the critical importance of reforming our educational system to improve our economy and create a pro-growth, pro-jobs environment.'

It all should make for an interesting debate scheduled for tonight at Windham High School, sponsored by the Southern New Hampshire 9.12 Project, and next Thursday at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, cosponsored by WMUR television and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Smith, by the way, began advertising on WMUR this week and is back up on cable television. His ad talks about his economic plan to cut business taxes, lower costs for health care and electricity, and reverse the trend of young workers leaving the state by creating new job opportunities for them in the state.

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AYOTTE ACCOLADES. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte is not only getting all kinds of attention from the national GOP and the national media at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, but she's also being heralded by Washingtonian magazine's poll of her fellow senators in the September edition's 'Best and Worst of Congress.'

Ayotte is named the number-one 'Surprise Standout' and the number-two 'rising star' (behind Marco Rubio R-Fla.).

And oh, by the way, she is also named the number one 'Female Hottie' in the Senate.

No doubt she (and husband Joe) just loved that one.

Neither of our House members, nor our Democratic senator, made it into the top three of any of the categories their colleagues were polled on.

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BACKING FOR ROLECEK; BURNS ON THE AIR. In the District 4 Executive Council GOP primary, we've learned that restaurateur Chuck Rolecek today will announce he is being endorsed by state Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry.

'Chuck is a great Republican and has always done whatever he could to support our party and our candidates,' she says in choosing Rolecek over her Senate colleague Tom DeBlois and Hillsborough County Treasurer Bob Burns.

Carson represents large and key towns in the district and joins Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and former congressional candidate Rich Ashooh in backing Rolecek.

Burns, meanwhile, has gone on the air with a biting ad touting his own GOP credentials and criticizing (without specifically naming) Rolecek and DeBlois.

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'SWITCHERS.' Tuesday was 'switchers' day for the Democrats in New Hampshire.

As the Barack Obama campaign in the state unveiled the names of about 90 current Republicans and a small number of former Republicans now backing Obama, 2nd District U.S. House candidate Ann Kuster released her own list of 40.

Prominent (but by no means surprising) on the list are former GOP activist Hilary Cleveland (who is also on Obama's list) and Dr. Jim Squires, a former Nashua-Hollis Republican state senator and candidate for governor.

Also on the list is Richard Hamilton of Littleton, former president of White Mountain Attractions, state Rep. Jim Pilliod of Belmont and former Reps. Merle Schotanus of Grantham and Paul Spiess of Amherst.

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HASSAN, CILLEY GET ENDORSEMENTS. Still on the endorsement front, two of the Democratic candidates for governor picked up key backing this week.

Former U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes backed Maggie Hassan, while attorney Andru Volinsky, the lead attorney in the landmark Claremont school funding lawsuit supports Jackie Cilley.

Meanwhile, Smith picked up the endorsement this week of veteran conservative activist Karen Testerman, who preceded him as head of Cornerstone Policy Research and Cornerstone Action.

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LOOKING AHEAD. The state Democratic and Republican parties plan post-primary unity breakfasts on Thursday, Sept. 13. The Democratic event will be at the Puritan Backroom in Manchester, while the GOP event will be at the Manchester Country Club in Bedford.

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-- Outgoing state Sens. Ray White and Jim Forsythe this week backed Dennis Acton of Fremont in his GOP District 23 primary bid against incumbent Sen. Russell Prescott.

-- Women Against Guinta and the CREDO SuperPAC will hold a candlelight vigil outside of Rep. Frank Guinta's congressional office tonight at 8 p.m. to protest, the groups said, 'the Republican War on Women and Guinta's repeated attacks on a woman's right to choose.'

-- Franklin Republican Bill Grimm says he has received an endorsement from 2008 GOP presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. John McCain, who called Grimm 'a rock-ribbed conservative dedicated to maintaining New Hampshire's national reputation for fiscal responsibility.' Grimm has been a McCain supporter dating back to the 2000 presidential primary.

-- R.C. Hammond, a former John E. Sununu staffer who headed communications nationally for former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, has now set up his own public affairs firm in Washington -- R.C. Hammond Public Affairs.

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(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 29, UPDATE. BARACK COMING BACK. The Granite Status has learned that President Barack Obama will make his fourth trip of 2012 to New Hampshire next week.

A campaign official said Wednesday that the President will return for a campaign visit on Friday, Sept. 7, which, significantly, is the day after he will speak to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

No further details on the trip were available.

The decision to have Obama come here the day after he accepts his party's nomination and delivers his acceptance speech is more evidence of the hotly contested nature of the general election in New Hampshire and the importance the Obama campaign is placing on the state, despite the fact that it has only four electoral votes.

Obama last campaigned in the state less than two weeks ago, visiting Windham and Rochester on Aug. 18. He previously campaigned in Durham on June 25 and made an official White House visit to Nashua back on March 1.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has also placed much emphasis on winning the state. He has campaigned here numerous times since willing the presidential primary in January, most recently with running mate Paul Ryan on Aug. 20. Ryan then returned last Saturday, visiting a Manchester restaurant and keynoting a GOP fund-raiser.

Romney has a home in Wolfeboro and has spent much private time there as well this summer.

After Romney delivers his acceptance speech on Thursday night in Tampa, he and Ryan are heading to Virginia, another important swing state.

Obama's visit will also come just four days before the Sept. 11 state primary election. It will be interesting to see whether Democratic candidates for governor and other contested races attend the President's event or focus on their own events -- or try to do both.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)


WEDNESDAY, AUG. 29, UPDATE. LOOKING AHEAD. The state Democratic and Republican parties are looking past the upcoming Sept. 11 primary and plan unity breakfasts on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 13.

NHDP officials say candidates for governor Jackie Cilley, Maggie Hassan and Bill Kennedy, as well as former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and fellow congressional candidate Ann Kuster, as well as state Senate, state House, Executive Council and county office candidates will attend their event at the Puritan Backroom in Manchester.

The NHGOP event at the Manchester Country Club will feature candidates for governor Ovide Lamontagne and Kevin Smith as well as state Senate, House, Executive Council and county office candidates.

No word yet on whether members of the congressional delegation from either party will attend their respective events.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, AUG. 28, UPDATE: IT'S OFFICIAL. Calling him 'the right man at the right time,' former Gov. John H. Sununu formally placed Mitt Romney's name in nomination at the Republican National this evening, soon after the convention approved rule changes that give New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary its strongest endorsement and protection ever from the national GOP.

The convention gave final adoption of a rule recommended by its rules committee last week that will not punish New Hampshire and other early primary or caucus states if they are forced by other states to jump their elections ahead of schedule in 2016. The prior rule withheld half of the delegates of any state that jumped ahead, forced or not.

The new rule also severely punishes renegade states that move up, by withholding all but nine of their delegates.

The section of the rule that protects the early states was championed by outgoing New Hampshire Republican National Committeewoman Phyllis Woods and was supported by Sununu, who chaired the rules committee.

Later, during the roll call of the states securing Romney's nomination, veteran Republican activist Tom Rath announced that the state was casting nine votes for Romney and three votes for Ron Paul, who finished second in the Jan. 10 primary.

Rath referred to the state as the place 'where it all began' and said it would be the home of 'the next summer White House,' Wolfeboro.

Sununu, placing Romney into nomination, said:

'In these critical times America needs a leader. Our economy is stagnant. Our vitality has been sapped. Our confidence is down.

'We are saddled with a failed presidency, with an incumbent President who has not led.

'America needs real change, and we are here to affirm a leader who will produce that change.

'There are many reasons America needs Mitt Romney at the helm. We have 23 million Americans unemployed or underemployed because Barack Obama cannot figure out what makes free enterprise work.'

Sununu continued, 'Mitt Romney will get our private sector moving again, and will respect the successes of our entrepreneurs who deserve credit because they really did build it.

'In these difficult times our nation still depends on others for our energy resources, even though we share the largest overall supplies of energy in the world, because we have an administration that shuns those assets and keeps us dependent on fragile foreign supplies.

'Mitt Romney will unshackle our assets, and lead us to real energy independence.

'We also are a nation that has seen erosion of our respect around the world because we have a President who prefers to lead from behind.

'Mitt Romney will restore our strength, support our friends, face up to our foes and regain honest respect for an America willing to lead.'

Sununu said, 'My wife Nancy and I have gotten to know Mitt and Ann Romney well.

'We have developed a deep and sincere appreciation for these two friends and their family. We like them and we respect them.

'Tonight we all gather here to put in motion the final phase of our campaign to help America know them better, and to appreciate why our nation needs them as our President and First Lady.

'Mitt Romney is a good man, and a smart man. He is compassionate and generous.

'He is a great father and a supportive friend.

'He has been a very successful businessman and a very effective governor.

'He knows how to fix the unfixable, and to help people perform to their highest potential.

'Mitt Romney is the right man at the right time and will be a great leader for our country.

'It is my honor to nominate Mitt Romney for the Office of President of the United States of America.'

Responding to Sununu, New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley said, 'John H. Sununu has already helped divide the Republican convention by trying to stomp out the voices and opinions of Ron Paul's delegates. Now Sununu has nominated for the presidency Mitt Romney, who wants to stomp out the rights of women to make their own health care choices; to stomp out Medicare; and to stomp on middle-class families with a new tax hike, even as wealthy families get another tax cut.'

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, AUG. 28, UPDATE: LAWMAKERS FOR OVIDE. Ovide Lamontagne's gubernatorial campaign will announce later today a 'House Legislative Leadership Team' comprising 116 Republican members of the New Hampshire House from all 10 counties, including seven committee chairs and 13 vice chairs.

'Their efforts in the legislature have returned our budget to balance and helped to put our state back on track after years of Democratic mismanagement,' Lamontagne says in a statement obtained by the Granite Status.

The campaign says the 'extensive list of proven vote-getters from across the state will be key to the Lamontagne campaign's get-out-the-vote efforts during the final days of the Republican primary.'

Deputy House Speaker Pamela Tucker, R-Greenland, who announced her endorsement of Lamontagne earlier in the summer, cited his '26 years of leadership experience in business and charitable enterprises.'

House Majority Leader Pete Silva, R-Nashua, said Lamontagne is 'a true conservative and he has never wavered from those core principles.'

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Rowe, R-Amherst, said Lamontagne 'understands the balance we must strike between meeting the needs of our citizens and establishing a responsible budget that will encourage business growth in New Hampshire.'

Also backing Lamontagne are committee chairs Michael Balboni of Nashua, Education; William Smith of New Castle, Finance Division II; Ken Hawkins of Bedford, Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Reform; Gene Chandler of Bartlett, Public Works and Highways; David Bates of Windham, Election Law; and Clifford Newton of Rochester, Fish and Game.

Click to view full House Legislative Leadership Team

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, Aug. 28, UPDATE: Former Gov. John H. Sununu has been tapped to place Mitt Romney's name in nomination as the Republican presidential standard-bearer.

Sununu, a campaign co-chair and sometimes controversial surrogate for Romney, told the Granite Status today that he was asked on Monday to make the nominating speech by campaign officials and was honored to accept.

While the specific time is unclear, Sununu is likely to give the speech late this afternoon. The convention convenes at 2 p.m. in Tampa.

Sununu said he will speak for about five minutes and will talk about 'where the country is today, what needs to be done to fix it and how Mitt Romney is the man to do it.'

Tonight in prime time, New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte is scheduled to deliver a speech to the convention, preceding a speech by Hudson businessman Jack Gilchrist, who appeared in a Romney ad earlier in the summer. They will be followed by several Republican governors and then by Ann Romney and the keynote address by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

On Wednesday morning, the New Hampshire delegation to the convention is scheduled to hear from Christie, Ayotte and Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, according to NHGOP executive director Jon Simons.

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

MONDAY, AUG. 27, UPDATE: FOCUSING ON AYOTTE. Democrats were ready with a broad range of attacks on U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte had she been selected as Mitt Romney's running mate.

A Democratic memo obtained by the Granite Status calls her a 'reckless pick' and insists that she would not have helped to close the gender gap between Romney and President Barack Obama.

Although Ayotte was not chosen, these are not moot issues. She is still regarded as an emerging leader of the party and a key Romney surrogate. Significantly, even with changes in the Republican National Convention schedule, she has retained her prime time speaking slot for Tuesday night.

But the Democrats were ready to say that as the vice presidential nominee, she would have been 'an irresponsible pick' with 'backwards stances' on women's issues, 'naivete on foreign policy' and fiscal stances that favor the rich 'at the expense of investing in programs that benefit the middle class.'

The memo cites her defense of the state's original parental notification law before the U.S. Supreme Court, her opposition to funding for Planned Parenthood and her opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

It cites her opposition to a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, her support for vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan's proposed budget and her support for a Balanced Budget Amendment and opposition to the auto industry bailout.

Separately Monday, the Barack Obama campaign in the state said that on Tuesday it will announce the formation of New Hampshire 'Republicans for Obama,' which will include moderates former state Sen. Rick Russman and, reportedly, long-time activist Hillary Cleveland.

MONDAY, AUG. 27, UPDATE: DONE DEAL? Former Gov. John H. Sununu says he fully expects the Republican National Convention to give its final blessing to 2016 rules that will give solid protection to the New Hampshire primary's first-in-the-nation status in 2016.

The convention rules committee voted last week to adopt a rule that would not punish New Hampshire and other early primary or caucus states if they are forced by other states to jump their primaries ahead of schedule.

The rule would also severely punish renegade states that move up, by withholding all but nine of their delegates.

'This is the best it's ever been for New Hampshire,' said Sununu, who chaired the convention rules committee, which passed the new rule last week. 'And in fact we get the benefit of the fact that the penalty for anyone who plays around with the schedule is much more severe.'

'That combination I think puts us in the best position we've ever been,' he said.

The rule does not become official until the full convention votes on it, and Sununu said that unless there are further changes in the convention schedule, he believes the convention will vote on the rule change Tuesday afternoon or early evening.

'There is no question (about final adoption) on this section,' he said. 'There is no issue over anything that we (in New Hampshire) care about.'

Outgoing Republican National Committeewoman Phyllis Woods, who sponsored the new rule, said, 'I don't think there is going to be any problem and I'm just so thrilled. Now we will have something that really makes our first-in-the-nation primary as solid and secure as it ever has been.'

(Earlier Granite Status reports follow.)

FRIDAY, AUG. 3, UPDATE: Democratic former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland will campaign in New Hampshire for President Barack Obama on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 6 and 7, the campaign said Friday.

Strickland had been scheduled to appear in Manchester on July 20, but the event was cancelled due to the movie theater shootings in Colorado.

The campaign says Strickland will speak at events as part of the campaign's 'Make it in America' tour. He will be making campaign stops in Concord, Somersworth, Rochester, Manchester, Keene and Claremont, among other towns across the state.

Details of individual stops will be announced shortly, the campaign said.

'Governor Strickland will discuss the President's commitment to small businesses and his focus on growing an economy with a strong middle class,' according to the campaign.

Strickland served as governor of Ohio from 2007 to 2011 and is a national co-chair of the Obama campaign.

He will visit manufacturing businesses and speak at grassroots events.

(An earlier update and the full Aug. 2 Granite Status follow.)

THURSDAY, AUG. 2, UPDATE: COMMITTEE CHAIRS FOR SMITH. Three more New Hampshire House committee chairmen are endorsing Republican candidate for governor Kevin Smith, the Granite Status has learned.

Reps. Ed Moran of Bedford, Carol McGuire of Epsom and Al Baldasaro of Londonderry bring the total number of committee chairs backing Smith to seven.

Moran chairs the Children and Family Law Committee, McGuire chairs the Executive Departments and Administration Committee and Baldasaro chairs the State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee.

They join committee chairs Reps. Steve Stepanek of the Ways and Means Comnmittee, Ken Weyler of the Finance Committee, John Reagan of the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee and Sherman Packard of the Transportation Committee, whose support for Smith has been previously announced.

Baldasaro said Smith 'has had years of experience working with New Hampshire's veterans and their families and is the only candidate in the race for governor prepared to work with these brave men and women and bring real leadership to the challenges they face."

He said Smith will be 'an outspoken advocate' for veterans.

Smith said he is 'honored to continue to gain the support of chairmen of some of the most important committees in the House.

'I think their support points to the fact that no candidate in this race is more prepared to begin governing on day one than I am. I've enjoyed working and serving with many of these members over the years and I look forward to working with them again as governor, as we seek to improve our state's economic climate' Smith said.

(The full Aug. 2 Granite Status follows.)

THURSDAY, AUG. 2: OVIDE'S WOMEN'S COALITION. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne is sending a message to Maggie Hassan and Democrats in general: he's got women supporters, too. Lots of them.

Hassan has the support of EMILY's List, which says on its website that a 'war on women rages' across the country.

But Lamontagne today will unveil a women's coalition of more than 600 supporters. Hassan's women's steering committee announced last week numbered 125.

The full Lamontagne list will be found later today on his campaign website,, following a scheduled 10 a.m. news conference.

But we've learned the coalition's honorary chairwoman is former New Hampshire First Lady Kathy Gregg and it will be co-chaired by Deputy Speaker Pam Tucker of Greenland, Rep. Molly Sanborn of Hooksett, former Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin of Portsmouth, former House Speaker Donna Sytek of Salem, former Rep. Fran Wendleboe of New Hampton, Patty Humphrey of Chichester, Ellen Christo of Hampton, Beverly Bruce of Tuftonboro, Augusta Petrone of Dublin, B.J. Eckardt of Belmont and Lisa Bass of Peterborough, wife of Rep. Charlie Bass, who endorsed Lamontagne earlier this year.

The steering committee includes Reps. Regina Birdsell of Hampton and Laura Gandiaof Litchfield as well as activists Joanne Devine and Donna Marzullo of Deering, Pam Carter and Maureen Sullivan Doyle of Manchester, Mar-Mar Rogers of Hollis, Nancy Kindler of Epping, Linda Twombly, Sue Beizel, Di Lothrop and Rita Harrington, all of Nashua, Judy Flanders of Henniker and Pamela Lindberg of Epsom.

Lamontagne campaign manager Paul Collins said the full group covers more than 125 cities and towns in all 10 counties and 'represents business owners and community leaders, party activists and independent voters, wives, mothers and daughters.'

The campaign says that all but about 75 of the women will be new, previously unannounced supporters.

Eckhardt, a business owner and former chair of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, called Lamontagne 'a proven leader who knows New Hampshire and knows how to bring people together.'

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RUDY PLANS A VISIT. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will make his first visit to the state on behalf of Lamontagne GOP primary foe Kevin Smith in two weeks.

On Aug. 15, Giuliani will keynote a fundraising luncheon at the Tuscan Kitchen in Salem and then join with Smith for a town hall meeting at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in the afternoon.

Smith is among only four candidates in major races Giuliani has endorsed in primaries this year, and the only candidate for governor.

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HICKENLOOPER IN NH. Less than two weeks ago, Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was hit with the tragic massacre that occurred in a movie theater in his state.

On Tuesday of this week, he and his wife of 10 years announced they are separating amicably.

Next Monday, Hickenlooper will help raise money for New Hampshire Democrats.

The governor actually spends much time in the state. He has a family vacation home on Newfound Lake on property his grandfather purchased more than 100 years ago

The private, $1,000-and-up-per-person luncheon will be held at 11 a.m. at party headquarters on North State Street, Concord.

And by the way, last Friday's NHDP Manchester fundraiser featuring Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz raised over $20,000 with nearly 100 attendees.

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HOWIE HEADS NORTH. Conservative talk radio host Howie Carr will keynote a fundraiser for Republican District 4 Executive Council candidate Chuck Rolecek Wednesday, Aug. 22, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Rolecek's restaurant, the Hanover Street Chophouse.

Carr's appearance just a few weeks before the Republican Primary should provide a financial and grassroots boost for Rolecek.

Carr doesn't head up to these parts often, but when he does he is met with enthusiasm by Republicans.

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AD WARS CONTINUE. If further evidence is needed of the importance of little New Hampshire to the presidential race, consider this:

President Barack Obama's campaign now has no fewer than four television ads airing here.

The latest is a 30-second spot put up on Tuesday evening that harkens back to the George W. Bush years and laments 'two wars' and 'debt piled up.'

On the other side, former Bush adviser Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS has begun airing its fourth ad in New Hampshire this year, citing 'the worst economic recovery America has ever had.'

The ad started Tuesday and will run on network television for approximately 10 days in a $610,000 buy, the SuperPAC said.

Crossroads said the ad 'is the last spot in a $25 million initiative in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, which launched in early July to frame the issue debate on the economy, jobs and taxes, and promote the Crossroads GPS policy platform, the New Majority Agenda.'

The Mitt Romney campaign and Republican National Committee have a new coordinated ad in which Romney touts his business experience while President Bill Clinton's May 31 quote about him, 'he had a sterling business career,' flashes onto the screen.

Both campaigns this week unveiled new smartphone apps. Obama's app lists local campaign events, such as phone banks and volunteer events.

Romney's app, called 'Mitt's VP,' will allow those who download it to be 'the first to learn the identity' of Romney's running mate.

Also this week, the Obama campaign released a new web video in which New Hampshire vets state Rep. Steve Shurtleff of Penacook, who served in Vietnam, and Jeff Ballard of Brookfield, the Democrats' District 3 state Senate candidate who served in Afghanistan, talk about Obama's support for veterans.

And the Obama campaign opened new offices in Plymouth, Claremont and Peterborough, bringing its total number of offices in the state to 14.

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WELL-REPRESENTED. New Hampshire will be well-represented on standing committees at the two national conventions later this month and in early September.

New Hampshire Democrats are setting a record at their Sept. 4-6 convention in Charlotte. For the first time ever, they will have five members of convention standing committees.

DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz appointed Mary Rauh of New Castle to the rules committee and former Stonyfield Farm CEO Gary Hirshberg of Holderness to the platform committee.

The New Hampshire delegation elected Deb Butler of Concord to the platform committee, Alan Reische of Manchester to the rules committee, and Kate Hannah of Bedford to the credentials committee.

The New Hampshire and New Jersey delegations will share the Renaissance Suites hotel. The two state parties will co-host a 'Welcome Party' late Sunday night, Sept. 2, with about 2,000 guests.

NHDP Chair Ray Buckley, who is a DNC vice chairman and president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, will host a pre-convention welcome party for state party chairs and vice chairs Sept. 1.

On the Republican side, each state is required to put two delegates on each of the four standing convention committees.

The committee assignments for the Aug. 27-30 Republican National Convention in Tampa are former Gov. John Sununu chairing and Renee Plummer of Portsmouth a member of the rules committee; state Sen. David Boutin of Hooksett and Beverly Bruce of Tuftonboro on the rules committee; Tom Rath of Concord and Jackie Eastwood of Durham on the credentials committee and state Rep. Paul Mirski of Enfield and Donna Mauro of Windham on the permanent organizations committee.

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THE HIRSHBERG ENDORSEMENT. Major Democratic donor Hirshberg's endorsement of Jackie Cilley for governor is another big boost for her candidacy, coming on top of the recent backing by the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire and the State Employees Association.

Primary foe Hassan rolled out former President Clinton last week, and that was huge, but if Hirshberg lives up to his reputation as a major donor and fundraiser it could give Cilley the financial boost she needs to battle Hassan to the wire.

Cilley's campaign so far has some Democrats recollecting Arnie Arnesen's upset win in the 1992 Democratic primary for governor and Carol Shea-Porter's win over the establishment-backed Jim Craig in the 2006 1st District U.S. House primary.

Time will tell if the comparisons hold up.

Hirshberg said yesterday he is backing Cilley because he has known her for many years and because of her 'courageous stance' refusing to pledge to veto a broadbased tax.

'It is a stance that I support,' he said. 'The pledge is a dinosaur from another time and another economy. It's a political gimmick.'

'It's not anti-Maggie. They're both friends. It's pro-Jackie.'

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RECORD-SETTER? The Hirshberg endorsement of Cilley comes as he prepares to host First Lady Michelle Obama at his home in Holderness this afternoon.

Hirshberg said he expects 125 attendees, and with prices ranging from $2,500 per person to $10,000 per couple, 'It will probably, almost certainly, be the biggest fundraiser on the Democratic side in New Hampshire history.

'It is astonishing the size of the checks that people wrote,' he said.

Mrs. Obama will then speak to supporters at the Laconia Middle School and at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester.

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KEY COMMITTEE. U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta yesterday was named a member of the key House Committee on Financial Services.

The panel oversees issues pertaining to the economy, the banking system, housing, insurance, and securities and exchange. The committee also has jurisdiction over monetary policy, international finance, international monetary organizations and efforts to combat terrorist financing.

Guinta was honored by the appointment and promised to 'work hard to help improve the economy for all of us and to return opportunity for everyone.'

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CHIDESTER BACKS PARENT. Conservative Tea Party activist Jeff Chidester will make official his endorsement in the 1st District U.S. House GOP primary today, and he tells us he's picking Rick Parent over incumbent Guinta.

Chidester cited Parent's 'great integrity,' his 'intelligence,' as evidenced by his career as a chief engineer on a massive cargo ship, and his commitment to principle.

'All too often the voters send people down to Washington only to lose them to the establishment, committed more to the will of the party and less to the needs of their constituents,' said Chidester. 'I am convinced that Rick will pay more attention to the 'NH' at the end of his title, and less to the U.S. at the beginning.'

Parent finished sixth in an eight-person congressional primary won by Guinta in 2010.

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THE FINAL DEBATE. The New Hampshire chapter of Americans for Prosperity Foundation and National Review will announce today they will co-host the last Republican gubernatorial debate before the primary election.

It will be held on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 10 a.m., at Windham High School.

AFP Foundation-NH state director Corey Lewandowski and Robert Costa, a political reporter for National Review and CNBC contributor, will moderate the debate between Lamontagne and Smith, who, Lewandowski said, have both confirmed their participation.

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KIMBALL WEIGHS IN. One of the state's top Tea Party leaders has jumped into the GOP primary race for Hillsborough County Sheriff with a key endorsement.

Jack Kimball, the former chair of the NHGOP and current chair of the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC, is backing Frank W. Szabo of Goffstown for Hillsborough County Sheriff in his challenge of sitting Sheriff James Hardy.

Kimball called Szabo 'a true constitutional candidate.'

It is Kimball's second endorsement so far this year. He backed Lamontagne for governor earlier this year.

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LIBERTY AGENDA. The conservative Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire has issued a lengthy legislative agenda for the 2013-2014 legislative session, headed by a balanced state budget.

Other key items include passage of right-to-work legislation, phasing out of defined benefit plans and phasing in of 401(k)-style defined contribution plans for state employees and passing 'Constitutional Carry, which recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed gun without a license.'

The full agenda can be viewed at

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HYPOCRISY? That's the charge from Andrew Hemingway, chairman of the conservative '4RG' (For a Republican Governor) PAC, against the Democrats.

Last week, we first reported that 4RG had posted a web video of Hassan saying 'That's a good answer' to a Democratic activist saying at one of her campaign events that the way to beat Republicans was to 'beat them with a bat,' 'beat them with your hands,' and 'beat them with your feet.'

Hassan's camp says she was only kidding when she said it was a good answer and neither Republican candidate for governor, Smith or Lamontagne, agreed with Hemingway's call for Hassan to drop out of the race.

This week, Hemingway released a lengthy statement saying that while Democrats call for 'a return to civility,' they 'are engaging in a type of politics that could incite violence and a type of campaigning that sacrifices true policy debate for character assassination.'

He noted that NHDP chair Buckley called for 'civility' shortly after publicly calling House Speaker Bill O'Brien a 'buffoon' (although many in Buckley's audience thought they heard him say 'baboon').

Buckley said he 'wouldn't want to insult baboons.'

Hemingway said Buckley can't 'discredit the House speaker's ideas and success, so he must resort to hypocritical name-calling, instead.'

He said Hassan should fire her staff for allowing someone into a campaign event who was 'advancing the very type of messaging they're criticizing.'

Buckley responded, referring to Hemingway and state Rep. Andrew Manuse, who emailed the Hemingway statement:

'Apparently the Andys can't differentiate between jokes at party functions and the actions of elected government officials acting in their official capacity on the floor of the New Hampshire House and elsewhere. There is a big difference.

'The people of New Hampshire are more concerned with Bill O'Brien's behavior acting as the House speaker, his state budget that has New Hampshire in the red, and his policies that have caused a loss of jobs and the cost of education skyrocket.

'The Andys are desperate to change the subject, but the people of New Hampshire won't be fooled by the Andys' shenanigans,' Buckley said.

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HASSAN ICE CREAM SOCIAL TOUR. Democratic candidate for governor Hassan will continue her retail campaigning effort with a series of nine ice cream socials, beginning on Saturday at Nashua Community College.

Others will be at the Discover Portsmouth Center on Sunday, the Puritan Restaurant in Manchester Aug. 9, the Marion Gerrish Community Center in Derry Aug. 12, the Richard W. Black Center in Hanover Aug. 16, the New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord Aug. 21, the Keene Central Square bandstand Aug. 23, Niles Party Community Center in Dover Aug. 28 and the White Mountain Community College in Berlin Aug. 30.

See her website for times and other details.

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- 2nd District Democratic U.S. House candidate Ann McLane Kuster on Tuesday was endorsed by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

- State Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, announced that Rockingham County Sheriff and former State Senator Michael Downing has endorsed him for re-election to the State Senate.

- U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen says the likely inclusion of a gay rights plank in the national Democratic Party platform reaffirms the party's long leadership 'on issues of justice and this reaffirms to the country that we are working on behalf of all our families, gay and straight.'

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John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @jdistaso. The Granite Status will return in print on Aug. 30, but there will be occasional updates over the next three weeks on

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