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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Battleground NH: Obama to campaign in Manchester Oct. 18

Senior Political Reporter

October 12. 2012 11:45AM

FRIDAY, OCT. 12, UPDATE: President Barack Obama will make his fifth visit of the year to New Hampshire on Thursday, Oct. 18, a campaign official told the Granite Status today.

The official said Obama will appear at a campaign event in Manchester, with details to be announced at a later time.

It will be the President's fourth campaign trip to the state in 2012. He previously appeared on Sept. 7 in Portsmouth, Aug. 18 in Windham and Rochester, and June 25 in Durham. He also made an official presidential visit to Nashua on March 1.

Obama will be trying to shore up support in an important battleground state where recent polls have reflected the national trend showing a tightening race.

A new poll released today by the American Research Group showed Mitt Romney leading Obama, 50 to 46 percent in New Hampshire. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percent, meaning the poll shows the race in a virtual dead heat.

Earlier this week, a Rassmussen Reports poll showed the New Hampshire race truly tied, at 48 percent, while a University of New Hampshire-conducted poll showed Obama ahead of Romney by 6 percentage points, just outside of the margin of error. That followed a UNH poll five days earlier showing Obama with a 15 percentage point lead.

Following the second presidential debate on Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, Obama will go to two other key battleground states, Iowa and Ohio, on Wednesday before heading to New Hampshire on Thursday.

After leaving New Hampshire, Obama will deliver remarks at the 67th Annual Alfred. E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City, the campaign said.


Coincidentally, on the same day Obama appears in Manchester, his 2008 presidential foe, Arizona Sen. John McCain, will campaign in Nashua at a fund-raiser for Republican candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne.

(Earlier updates and the full Oct. 11 Granite Status follow.)

THURSDAY, OCT. 11, UPDATE: MARCO'S JOURNEY NORTH. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is the latest nationally-known Republican to come to New Hampshire for candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne.

Rubio will be the featured speaker at a Lamontagne fund-raiser on Monday, Oct. 15, at Brown's Lobster Pound in Seabrook.

The co-hosts of the $50-to-$500 per person event are Sen. Kelly Ayotte and former Govs. Craig Benson, Steve Merrill and John H. Sununu.

Rubio has been a rising star on the national GOP scene for several years now and was under consideration as Mitt Romney's running mate. He's viewed as a potential future presidential candidate and is believed to have visited the first-in-the-nation primary state only once -- in 2007 on behalf of then-presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

The 41-year-old senator delivered a prime time address to the Republican National Convention in August, in which he cited about his parents' journey from Cuba to the United States as an illustration of American exceptionalism.

Rubio is the fourth nationally known Republican to campaign for Lamontagne. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, is in the state today for a fund-raiser in Salem, while Arizona Sen. John McCain will be featured at a fund-raiser on Oct. 18 in Nashua. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie campaigned with Lamontagne on Sept. 25.

THURSDAY, OCT. 11, UPDATE: FIREFIGHTERS FOR HASSAN. The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire endorsed Democrat Maggie Hassan for governor today.

At a rally at a Manchester fire station, PFFNH president David Lang said, 'Maggie understands the importance of a balanced budget and will continue to ensure fire fighters and paramedics have the necessary resources to successfully do our jobs.

'New Hampshire needs a leader who shares our values, and will look out for all people. That's Maggie Hassan,' Lang said.

The union endorsed Hassan's opponent, Jackie Cilley in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire/Vermont Chapter of the Association of Builders and Contractors endorsed Lamontagne for governor on Thursday. The association cited Lamontagne's positions "on reducing business taxes, health care reform and his priority focus on our economy and job creation."

(An earlier update and the full Oct. 11 Granite Status follow.)

THURSDAY, OCT. 11, UPDATE: VETERAN OPERATIVE JOINS ROMNEY CAMP. In the final weeks of the campaign, veteran GOP operative Andy Leach is leaving Sen. Kelly Ayotte's office to help guide the state effort to put New Hampshire in Mitt Romney's column.

Leach, a former two-time NHGOP executive director, has left his post as director of special projects in Ayotte's state office and is now on loan to the combined Republican National Committee/Romney campaign New Hampshire 'Victory' effort as a senior adviser.

'Andy Leach is one of the most talented Republican political operatives in New Hampshire,' said Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams. 'We're pleased he's agreed to join the 'Victory' effort and help Mitt Romney win New Hampshire.'

Leach was the top staffer at the NHGOP under the chairmanships of former Gov. John H. Sununu and Wayne Semprini. He worked on former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey's bid for governor in 2000 and later managed Mike Chema's short-lived congressional campaign in 2002.

Last year, Leach helped Wayne MacDonald's transition into the party chairmanship and helped train staff after the resignation of former chair Jack Kimball before moving to Ayotte's office as director of outreach.

At the campaign, he will work with Romney senior adviser Jim Merrill and state director Phil Valenziano in all organizational aspects. Republican say that bringing on Leach shows the GOP camp is highly committed to winning New Hampshire's potentially crucial four electoral votes.

THURSDAY, OCT. 11, UPDATE: RNC CHAIR, SEN. RAND PAUL IN NH. National Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus will be in Nashua on Saturday, Oct. 13, to knock on doors and phone bank with volunteers on behalf of Mitt Romney.

The Romney campaign said, "Based on our projections, he should be making our 1 millionth voter contact in New Hampshire."

Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz visited New Hampshire on Wednesday to campaign for President Barack Obama.

The Romney campaign also confirmed that Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul will be in New Hampshire on the weekend of Oct. 20-21 as a Romney surrogate.

THURSDAY, OCT. 11, UPDATE: SUFNHF RECOMMENDATIONS. As a 501(c)4 nonprofit, the pro-same-sex marriage group 'Standing Up for New Hampshire Families' cannot make endorsements in political races.

Instead, the group says it is 'bringing to your attention' seven candidates who oppose repealing the current law':

The Democrats are candidate for governor Maggie Hassan, state Senate candidates Jeff Woodburn in District 1, Lee Nyquist in District 9, Donna Soucy in District 18 and Peg Gilmour in District 12.

The Republicans are state District 24 state Sen. Nancy Stiles and District 17 state Senate candidate John Reagan.

SUFNHF also said it intends to alert voters that Republican candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne has been a supporter of a same-sex marriage repeal.

(An earlier update and the full Oct. 11 Granite Status follow.)

THURSDAY, OCT. 11, UPDATE: LYNCH AD FOR OBAMA. Gov. John Lynch appears in a new television ad for President Barack Obama, calling Obama a "strong leader" who "cares about people."

The footage was taken from a speech Lynch delivered introducing Obama at a rally in Portsmouth on Sept. 7.

(The full Oct. 11 Granite Status follows.)

THURSDAY, OCT. 11: CLEVER. The state Republican Party has sent two mailers to voters in Manchester's state Senate District 18, where Democrat Donna Soucy, Republican J. Gail Barry and independent and former Democrat Arthur Beaudry are battling for an open seat.

Why is that news?

Barry tells us she was told by her party that both mailers would promote her.

One does, calling her an independent voice and bipartisan leader.

It's the second mailer that is more interesting.

'Democrats,' it says, 'vote for Arthur Beaudry for State Senate.'

Yep, the state GOP is selectively promoting Beaudry for the seat it's promoting Barry for in an apparent effort to take Democratic votes away from Soucy.

'As president of State Firefighters Association, Beaudry knows firsthand the importance of Unions to New Hampshire's economy,' says the mailer sent by the pro-right-to-work NHGOP.

'As a member of the Manchester School Board, Beaudry wasn't afraid to FIGHT MAYOR TED GATSAS,' boasts the GOP mailer about the GOP mayor.

'Fighting for Unions,' it says of Beaudry. 'Fighting for the working class.'

And there was certainly no attempt to hide the source and the party web site address, which appear in plain sight above the recipients' addresses.

'I have not seen it and I was led to believe something entirely different,' Barry told us.

What did she think of it?

'Not too much.'

State Republican spokesman Meg Stone said the Beaudry mailer was sent to Democrats and the Barry mailer was sent to Republicans and independents.

'We fully support Gail Barry,' said Stone. 'We've reiterated that to her.'

In a statement, Stone said, 'We think it is fair to point out to all voters in District 18 all of the candidates and their issues in this campaign.' Helping Barry 'means we will point out the important dynamics of each candidate to the voters,' the statement said.

Beaudry said he first heard of the mailer from a family member who received it.

'I'm humbled they're willing to help,' he said. 'I don't know what their motives are, but I'm running as an independent and I'd hope that both parties would look at me favorably.'

State Democratic Chair Raymond Buckley said, 'It's so bizarre that it is laughable.'

Usually, the state Senate Majority PAC takes care of Senate races. Senate President Peter Bragdon said the PAC didn't pay for this one; the party did.

But, 'I was aware of it going out,' he said. 'Our goal is to elect Gail and I can understand that there are some strategic decisions to be made in that regard.'

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POLL SHIFT? Five days after a WMUR-TV poll by the UNH Survey Center showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by a staggering 15 percentage points in New Hampshire, a new WMUR-UNH poll appeared Tuesday showing Romney closing the gap to 6 points.

Center Director Andy Smith said the quick turnaround had nothing to do with the criticism leveled at his earlier poll, with a much greater spread than even Democratic Party polls had shown.

Smith's explanation for a second poll within days of the controversial one? Like many pollsters, he said, he regularly adds non-political questions to his polls for private clients.

He said there were so many clients wanting to get their questions on last week's poll that he could not accommodate them. So he went back into the field immediately for a second round. In doing so, he said, he decided to ask the presidential question again, unprompted by WMUR or anyone or anything else.

He said he is not planning to go back into the field on the presidential question until a week before the election.

The new poll was taken over the course of several days and more than half the sample was surveyed prior to last week's presidential debate, which pretty much everyone agrees was won by Romney. About 40 percent of the sample was contacted afterward.

The sample size of the new poll is smaller - 559 compared to 600 last week - and the party split in the new poll sample is not as heavily Democrat as was last week's.

Romney improved his support among fellow Republicans from 84 percent last week to 94 percent this week, and the pro-Obama gap among independents closed from 47-29 percent last week, to 41-35 percent this week.

So what about that earlier poll?

'Keep in mind that pollsters and political scientists tend to be much more dubious about their ability to be precise' than the rank-and-file political observer, he said.

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RASMUSSEN REPORTS A TIE. Rasmussen Reports on Wednesday released its own New Hampshire presidential poll showing Romney and Obama tied at 48 percent.

Rasmussen said its poll showed New Hampshire voters closely divided when it comes to which candidate they trust more to handle the economy: 48 percent trust Romney more, 46 percent Obama.

On national security issues, it's a tie at 47 percent each.

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NOT PERSONAL? Just a month ago, Charlie Bass and Annie Kuster vowed not to make their 2nd District U.S. House battle personal.

What a difference a month makes.

First, there was the 'tracker-gate' incident, in which Kuster took the video camera away from a Bass campaign staffer who was taping her and asking her questions.

Kuster said she would not stand for 'political bullying' by Bass.

The National Republican Congressional Committee turned that incident into an ad questioning Kuster's temperament.

Then, last Sunday at a debate in Nashua, Kuster tried to grab a microphone from Bass as he was telling the audience that Kuster supported an income tax for New Hampshire.

'You can't just lie to people,' Kuster reportedly said as she reached for the mike.

Tuesday, Kuster's campaign put up a TV ad accusing Bass of 'a history of ethical questions and corruption.'

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HITTING MAGGIE (AGAIN). The Republican Governors Association on Tuesday launched its third television ad against Democratic candidate for governor Maggie Hassan. The topic is a familiar one: taxes.

The ad accuses Hassan of supporting 33 tax and fee increases as a state senator and says she 'believes in higher taxes.'

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BIG BIRD VS. BOEHNER. Big Bird nearly stole the show from U.S. House Speaker John Boehner in Derry on Monday.

The speaker made a brief stop to rally volunteers for Romney and Paul Ryan, but the Obama New Hampshire campaign was able to convince a volunteer to dress up as Big Bird and hold a sign saying, 'Romney-Boehner. Tough on Sesame Street; Soft on Wall Street.'

Obama state campaign spokesman Holly Shulman assured us she's not in jeopardy of losing her job to Big Bird, but she noted she's now referred to in the media as 'Big Bird's handler.'

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GROUND GAME UPDATE. The Republican National Committee/Romney campaign says its ground operation has now 'reached nearly 1 million voters' in New Hampshire 'since spring.'

Since there are 793,000 names on the voter checklist as of the Sept. 11 primary, perhaps the Romney camp reached about 200,000 voters twice?

In any event, the campaign says it has made twice as many phone calls and seven times more 'door knocks' than in 2008.

'Last week alone we made 125,000 voter contacts,' said Romney campaign spokesman Tommy Schultz.

Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley says enthusiasm is up nationally.

While the Obama campaign may have more offices around the country, 'offices, especially empty ones, can't contact voters,' Wiley says.

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GOOD FOR THE SHIPYARD? The Romney campaign says the candidate's promise in a foreign policy speech Monday to build 15 naval ships a year, including three submarines, is good for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

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THE MAC IS BACK - AGAIN. Arizona Sen. John McCain will return to New Hampshire Oct. 18 to speak at a low-dollar fund-raiser for candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne with Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

The $25-a-person event at the Nashua Country Club co-host list includes state Sens. Gary Lambert and Jim Luther, Alderman Daniel Moriarty and area business leaders and activists such as Bob Bevis, Paul Clark, Kevin Halloran, Tracy Hatch, Jack and Brenda Tulley and Charles Withee.

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-- The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire endorsed Jackie Cilley over Maggie Hasan in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Today the union will back Hassan in the general election at a rally at Station 7 on Somerville Street in Manchester.

-- The New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club will endorse more than 50 candidates at a Legislative Office building news conference today.

-- The NRCC has a new award for its staff. 'The Weekly Sununu' goes to the 'NRCC flak who crushed it the most,' according to the committee's Twitter account. The award is a framed copy of the official portrait of former Gov. John H. Sununu that hangs in the State House.

-- The Romney campaign says it will hold 20 debate-watching parties tonight for the vice presidential event. The Obama campaign said it has "more than 100 grassroots events tomorrow night, a mix of canvasses, phone banks and watch parties."

-- Arriving in our home mailbox on Tuesday were mailers promoting Hassan, Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter from the Washington-based Communications Workers of America, an anti-Hassan one from Americans for Prosperity, based in Windham, and an anti-Lamontagne piece from the NEA Advocacy Fund, based in Washington.

-- Democratic state Rep. David Campbell released the names of 50 supporters of his bid for New Hampshire House speaker on Wednesday. Included are 36 current members and 14 former members.

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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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