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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Bill Clinton may campaign for Obama in NH

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 11. 2012 7:28PM

TUESDAY, SEPT. 11, UPDATE: HE LOVES NH. New Hampshire has long been one of former President Bill Clinton's favorite states, so it's no surprise the Granite State would be among the battleground states he'd visit on behalf of Barack Obama.

The Obama campaign tells CBS News that Clinton has agreed to campaign for Obama in the New Hampshire as well as Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nevada.

The New Hampshire Obama campaign could not confirm specifics, but an official there said Tuesday night:

"President Clinton has offered to do as much as he can to help with the President's reelection. His speech at the DNCC was incredibly helpful in not only laying out the choice but also putting the last four years into perspective for the American people. He he has more credibility than anyone else as a former President who faced similar economic and political challenges and pursued a similar path as this President. In fact, his speech lead to one of the largest online fundraising day in the history of the campaign - so it clearly registered across the country.

The campaign official said, "Already, he's committed to two grassroots events in Florida today and tomorrow, and he will travel to other key battleground states in the coming weeks, which could include New Hampshire among other states. We'll announce dates and specific travel locations once we have more details we can share."

(Earlier updates and the full Sept. 6 Granite Status follow.)

FRIDAY, SEPT. 7, UPDATE: 'DISAPPOINTED' IN OVIDE. House Speaker Bill O'Brien said Friday he was 'disappointed' that Republican candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagn would have vetoed the 'Kimberly Cates Law,' which O'Brien sponsored earlier this year and Gov. John Lynch signed into law.

'I think Kevin Smith has the right position,' said O'Brien of Lamontagne's Republican primary opponent.

But O'Brien made it clear in an interview he is not endorsing either candidate before next Tuesday's primary.

'I'm personally friendly with both of those individuals,' he said. 'I would have a responsibility to endorse if one were markedly different in their views than the other, but both are good conservatives and either would make a great governor.'

The Kimberly Cates Law expanded the option of the death penalty to cases of murder during home invasions.

O'Brien, of Mont Vernon, sponsored the bill earlier this year in reaction to the brutal 2009 murder of the wife and mother Kimberly Cates during a home invasion that also left her daughter, Jaimie, severely injured.

The death penalty came up in both of the televised Granite State Debates, sponsored by WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader, on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

On Wednesday, Democratic candidates for governor Maggie Hassan, Jackie Cilley and Bill Kennedy all said they would have vetoed the Cates bill.

That prompted strong reaction from O'Brien, who said he was 'stunned' by their positions and invited them to 'come to my community, walk with me, talk to our residents and reconsider their misguided position on this important issue.'

On Thursday night, Lamontagne said his opposition to the law was based on his strong pro-life beliefs.

"I'm pro-life from conception to death," he said.

Smith, who is also pro-life on abortion, said he would have signed the Cates bill into law.

O'Brien on Friday told the Granite Status he had been aware of Lamontagne's position on the issue and so was not shocked, only disappointed, to hear the candidate state it clearly during the debate.

He issued the same invitation to Lamontagne to speak with Mont Vernon residents and said he hopes that 'he, too, will learn that their confidence of being safe in their own home, which had been shattered, was in some small way restored by this law.

'People now know at least that anyone who contemplates engaging in such horrible behavior has to factor in that we as a state reserve the option of the death penalty in cases such as this,' O'Brien said.

(An earlier update and the full Sept. 6 Granite Status follow.)

THURSDAY, SEPT. 6, UPDATE: STRONG ENDORSEMENTS FOR ROLECEK. On the same day he received the editorial endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader, Republican District 4 Executive Council candidate Thursday was also backed by a key member of the New Hampshire state Senate.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Morse of Salem became the second senator to endorse Rolecek, citing his business background and his 'great attention to detail.' Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, was the first.

In making the endorsement, Morse is reaching outside of the council district in which he lives, District 3.

But his backing is significant since he chose Rolecek over one of his own Senate colleagues, Tom DeBlois of Manchester, who is facing Rolecek in the Republican primary, along with Hillsborough County Treasurer Bob Burns of Bedford.

The winner of that primary will face Democratic businessman and former Hillsborough County Treasurer Chris Pappas of Manchester in the general election.

We're understand the endorsement was unrelated to the fact that Morse lives in the home town of Rockingham Park and Rolecek chaired Fix It Now, a self-described 'citizens coalition' which has partnered with Millennium Gaming, the company with to buy the track if gaming is approved by lawmakers.

Rolecek, as an executive councilor, would have no ability to affect legislation to expand gaming and has not campaigned on the issue.

Morse says that Rolecek's 'leadership and experience as a small businessman will make him an effective advocate for fiscal discipline and accountability on the Executive Council.'

A grateful Rolecek said Morse 'has been a tremendous leader on fiscal issues for our state.'

(The full Sept. 5 Granite Status follows.)

THURSDAY, SEPT. 6: THE BIG EVENTS. After the Democratic National Convention reaches its climax tonight with President Barack Obama's acceptance speech, New Hampshire will be back in the political spotlight again tomorrow as Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their wives head to Portsmouth for a mid-day rally at the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth.

A few hours later, Mitt Romney will hold a rally at Holman Stadium in Nashua.

Big crowds are expected at both events as the visits further illustrate the importance of the Granite State to presidential politics, not only with its primary, but also in the general election. Taken together, the back-to-back events show clearly that the Granite State, even with only four electoral votes, is a key battleground in the general election.

It should be a fun day.

The state is a toss-up, according to recent polling and electoral maps posted by the news networks' political units. New Hampshire's four electoral votes could prove to be the difference on Nov. 6, just as they did in 2000, when Al Gore lost the state by a razor-thin margin to George W. Bush, and, well, the rest is history.

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CONSERVATIVE RATINGS. In the week leading up to the Sept. 11 state primary, two key conservative group have released voter guides, complete with endorsements and ratings for legislative and Executive Council candidates.

Cornerstone Action's voter guide compiles House and Senate incumbents' scores from its 2011-2012 scorecard and reports whether each candidate has signed and returned Cornerstone's Families First Pledge.

Cornerstone says at least 10 incumbent Republicans voted with Cornerstone 100 percent of the time on a collection of key votes and as a result were labeled 'Heroes of the Family.'

Many other Republicans scored nearly as well, and most voted with Cornerstone at least 50 percent of the time, the group said. Not surprisingly, no Democrat voted with Cornerstone more than 40 percent of the time.

Cornerstone said 68 GOP candidates signed its 'Families First' pledge.

The Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire listed 145 'endorsed' or 'recommended' candidates for the House, Senate or council. An 'endorsed' candidate scored at least 85 percent on either its 2011-2012 legislative scorecard or its candidate survey, while a 'recommended' candidate scored at least 80 percent.

The lists of endorsed or recommended or their ratings are too long to be reported here, but Cornerstone's guide can be found at and the RLCNH's at

We can report that Sen. Jim Luther was the highest scoring Senate incumbent on the Cornerstone survey with an 85 percent rating, with Senate President Peter Bragdon at 80 percent.

In the RLCNH guide, 'endorsed' Senate candidates are John Reagan in District 17, Phil Greazzo in District 20, Dennis Acton in District 23, Phyllis Woods in District 4, Cynthia Coolidge Howard in District 5 and Joshua Youssef in District 7.

'Endorsed' Executive Council candidates are Robert Burns in District 4 and David Wheeler in District 5.

Jerry Thibodeau, who is in a primary battle with incumbent Raymond Burton in District 1, is a 'recommended' candidate.

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EMILE, EARL BACKS DeBLOIS. With a tight primary looming for the GOP nomination for the District 4 Executive Council seat, former Manchester Mayor Emile Beaulieu and former Executive Councilor Earl Rinker are backing state Sen. Tom DeBlois over Hillsborough County Treasurer Bob Burns and businessman Chuck Rolecek.

Beaulieu said that he has known DeBlois for more than 40 years and 'he is the type of individual who will scour New Hampshire contracts so we will have efficient spending of our state funds. He will also do the important work of vetting individuals presented to the Executive Council as nominees for critical positions.'

Rinker called DeBlois a fiscal conservative and an 'advocate for the taxpayers.'

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WATTERS COMPILES ENDORSEMENTS. There is no primary in the District 4 state Senate race, with Democratic state Rep. David Watters facing former Republican National Committeewoman Phyllis Woods, both of Dover, in the general election.

Watters has accumulated a host of endorsements with two months to go. They include the New Hampshire Association of Realtors, Federal Express PAC, Associated General Contractors of New Hampshire, and the Independent Pharmacy Association, the American Federation of Teachers-NH, the American Association of University Professors, the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, the State Employees Association and the New Hampshire Public Health Association.

Watters also has the backing of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen Union Local 3, the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 131, the New Hampshire Carpenters Local 118, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2320 and the Granite State Teamsters.

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GREEN BACKERS. Republican Dick Green of Rochester is looking to make a return to the state Senate, where he served from 2003 through 2006, and is now facing state Rep. Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington, in a primary.

Green, the former Rochester mayor, has picked up the backing of a host of local officials, including current Rochester Mayor Thomas J. Jean, Deputy Mayor A. Raymond Varney, city councilors Ralph Torr, Stephen Hervey, Brian LaBranche, Peter Lachapelle and David Walker, Farmington Selectman Charlie King, Alton selectmen David Hussey, Loring Carr, Peter Bolster, Marc DeCoff and Cydney Shapleigh Johnson, Barnstead Selectman Jim Banard, and state Rep. David Russell, R-Gilmanton.

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THE YOUTH VOTE. The New Hampshire Young Republicans made their preferences clear in last Saturday's straw poll, held in conjunction with the group's annual lobster bake.

For governor, Ovide Lamontagne won decisively over Kevin Smith, 78 to 22 percent.

In the 1st District U.S. House primary, incumbent Frank Guinta drew 84 percent to 12 percent for Rick Parent and 4 percent for Vern Clough.

For the 2nd District U.S. House primary, incumbent Charlie Bass received 84 percent, to 8 percent for Dennis Lamare and 4 percent each for Will Dean and Miroslaw Dziedzic.

The District 1 Executive Council race was a fairly close one, with incumbent Burton defeating Thibodeau, 52 to 44 percent.

In state Senate primaries:

-- District 1: Debi Warner over Frank Dumaine, 71 to 23 percent.

-- District 5: Joe Osgood, 72 percent; Cynthia Coolidge Howard, 22 percent

-- District 6: Sam Cataldo, 86 percent; Dick Green, 10 percent.

-- District 7: Joshua Youssef over Bill Grimm, 65 to 30 percent

-- District 9: Andy Sanborn, 69 percent; Ken Hawkins, 23 percent; Michael Kenney, 4 percent

-- District 11: Dan Dwyer 53 percent; Bragdon, 42 percent

-- District 17: John Reagan, 71 percent; Howard Pearl, 25 percent

-- District 23: Dennis Acton, 56 percent; Russell Prescott, 40 percent

NHYR chairman David Hurst said, 'While these numbers are far from a scientific representation of the general primary voter, these results do reflect that these candidates have won over the hearts and minds of some of New Hampshire's most dedicated conservative activists.'

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COLIN'S ROAD TRIP. Concord's Colin Van Ostern, in a primary battle for the Democratic District 2 Executive Council nomination against former councilor John Shea of Nelson and former state Rep. Shawn Mickelonis of Rochester, yesterday began a 19-stop house party tour of the state.

The visits will continue today and through Monday.

Stops include Rollinsford today; Keene and three stops in Concord tomorrow: Winchester, Dublin, and Walpole on Saturday; Franklin, Concord, Rochester and Dover on Sunday; Concord, Durham and the University of New Hampshire campus in Durham on Monday.

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BIG NORTH COUNTRY BACKER. Democratic candidate for governor Maggie Hassan this week won the endorsement of the mayor of the city opponent Jackie Cilley was born and grew up in.

Paul Grenier, mayor of Berlin, called Hassan 'the only candidate who can stand up to Ovide Lamontagne and speaker (Bill) O'Brien's extreme Tea Party agenda and win this fall.'

Grenier joins former state Rep. Tim Buco of Conway and state Senate candidate Jeff Ballard of Brookfield as co-chairs of Hassan's North Country steering committee.

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ZORFAS ON CAMPAIGN. Ethan Zorfas is taking a formal leave as Rep. Frank Guinta's congressional chief of staff to become a 'general consultant' for his reelection campaign. The change is effective today.

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See updates to Granite Status throughout the week at

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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 Twitter: @jdistaso.

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