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October 12. 2012 6:58PM

Small-business owners launch coalition to support Romney


Fred Kfoury of Central Paper, holds up a ream of paper to illustrate a point at a press conference for the Small-Business Owners for Romney Coalition in Manchester on Friday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)


State Rep. Laurie Sanborn speaks while gathered with local business owers at a press conference for the Small-Business Owners for Romney Coalition in Manchester on Friday (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Five small- business owners took turns at a podium set up in the warehouse of Central Paper Products on Friday, hammering President Obama's record on the economy and small-business issues, as they launched New Hampshire Small Business Owners for Romney.

“Small business owners realize that this election is a choice between two very different visions for our nation's future. The policies of President Obama have crippled job creators, and business owners know they cannot afford another four years like the last four years,” said Jack Gilchrist, owner of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson.

Gilchrist was introduced at the GOP convention by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte as “the face of small business in America.” He gained widespread notoriety for his appearance in a Romney campaign ad taking issue with the President's “You didn't build that” comment.

Gilchrest called Obama a “virtual manager” who needs a teleprompter to function, and said the recent debate between the President and Romney only confirmed his belief. “He seemed to have no clue about the details. Mitt Romney understands the details,” he said.

Nine business owners appeared at the event, but only five spoke from the podium.

Al Letizio, CEO of AJ Letizio Foods in Windham, said business owners are “fed up with the constant demonization of these guys who try to succeed in America.”

Gilchrest and Letizio, along with Joe Daley, owner of Daley Landscaping in Nashua, are statewide co-chairs of the group, which has 150 members made up of business owners in all 10 New Hampshire counties and 60 municipalities.

Daley said the President is trying to divide the country into two camps, and using “class warfare, fear, jealousy and envy as the path to his election.”

“It seems they are playing on the story of Robin Hood,” Daley said. “That was a wonderful childhood story, but now we're adults.

In addition to the President's tax policy, the small-business owners took issue with the growth in federal regulations and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on job creation and business confidence.

Both campaigns lobbied hard to win support among small businesses. A September poll from George Washington University suggests the President is leading Romney in support from small-business owners, while an August poll by Manta put Romney in the lead with a wide margin. The Obama campaign launched a similar group, Small Business for Obama, on Sept. 26, with its own list of 75 small-business owners in the Granite State.

“President Obama signed 18 tax cuts for small businesses into law, helped small businesses access credit and proposed the American Jobs Act, which would create jobs by making it easier for small businesses to hire and grow,” said Holly Shulman, Obama campaign communications director in New Hampshire.

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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