CONCORD — Democrats claimed Thursday Republican gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne is ducking the conservative social agenda he pledged to support weeks ago.
Lamontagne said social issues don't matter and instead he wants to focus on jobs and the economy, said Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, at a press conference. “We heard that in 2010. We won't get fooled again. Ovide and Bill O'Brien want to take this state in the wrong direction.”
Lamontagne's campaign spokesman Tom Cronin said “As Senator Hassan and her surrogates continue talking about social issues, in a backwards attempt to convince voters that she isn't obsessed with them while attempting to mask her continued support for higher taxes, Ovide will be out talking with businesses and voters about his plans to keep taxes low, jump start our economy, put our neighbors back to work.”
The Democrats want to tie Lamontagne to Cornerstone Action's legislative agenda, which includes a number of anti-abortion bills that failed to win legislative approval last session and others to protect life from “conception to natural death,” protect religious freedom, including business transactions, repeal gay marriage and promote free market economic policies, including deregulating the health care industry and repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Lamontagne signed the organization's pledge, which lists five broad areas of support that mirror its legislative agenda, but Thursday his campaign issued a press release that said “Ovide signed the five point 'Cornerstone Families First Pledge' which calls for, among other things, policy makers to 'enact free market economic policies that empower New Hampshire families.' Nowhere does the pledge call for a complete deregulation of the health care system as Sen. Hassan claimed in this morning's debate.
“More recently, Cornerstone released a legislative policy agenda for the upcoming session. Ovide was not consulted on the items to be included nor did he 'sign on' to the finalized document.”
At the press conference, Larsen and Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, said if Lamontagne signed the pledge than he also agrees with the group's legislative agenda.
“Quite a few voters may not know the social agenda of Ovide Lamontagne,” Larsen said. “We need to know what he stands for. What he stands for is a return to the 1950s.”
Shannon McGinley, Cornerstone's acting executive director, said no candidate was consulted when the group issued its legislative agenda.
McGinley said it would not be Lamontange's job as governor to advance Cornerstone's legislative agenda. That would be up to lawmakers, she said.
But when asked if the group expected a candidate who signs the pledge to advocate for its positions such as limitations on abortion, she said it did.
Lamontagne supporter Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, said Lamontagne is very straightforward.
“The Democrats say they want to focus on jobs and the economy yet they keep bringing up the social issues,” he said. “When they were in charge, their most aggressive efforts were their social issues.”
During the press conference, Rosenwald called Lamontagne “A Tea Party rubber stamp before any votes are cast.”
She noted Lamontagne has said he will sign or veto every bill, not let some go into law unsigned as Gov. John Lynch has done. “With his extreme agenda, we need to know what he will sign or veto,” Rosenwald said. “Will he allow a business to discriminate against a customer?”
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