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Dan Tuohy has covered politics in the Granite State since 1993 and has reported from the Statehouse. A New Hampshire native, Tuohy is a past president of the New Hampshire Press Association.
October 24. 2012 11:46AM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Battleground NH: Mitt Romney will campaign in New Hampshire on Tuesday, following Obama, Bidens

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24, UPDATE: Mitt Romney will return to New Hampshire on Tuesday, Oct. 30, for a major campaign event in Manchester, the Granite Status has learned.

A campaign official said Veterans Park in Manchester is a potential venue for the rally, although the precise location will depend on weather conditions. There is a threat of inclement weather early next week due to Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to move north along the East Coast to New England.

It will be Romney's first campaign event in the state since Sept. 7. His wife, Ann, is scheduled to campaign in the state on Monday.

Romney will follow President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to campaign in Nashua on Saturday, and Vice President Joe Biden, who will be in the state on Monday. Dr. Jill Biden will campaign in the state on Friday.

A Romney campaign official said the Romney visit is a "further illustration of his dedication to winning" the state's electoral votes on Nov. 6. The official said the visit will build on momentum that has seen Romney close in on -- and, the official said, surpass -- Obama in the state.

Obama held a rally at Veterans Park last Thursday, Oct. 18.

(Earlier updates and the full Oct. 18 Granite Status follow.)

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24, UPDATE: OBAMA DETAILS. An Obama campaign official said this evening President Barack Obama's event on Saturday will be held at the Elm Street Middle School in Nashua. Doors will open at 12 noon.

Obama's "warm up act" will be legendary singer-songwriter James Taylor, a New England native.

Doors open at 12 noon and free tickets can be obtained by visiting ObamaNH.com.

(Earlier updates and the full Oct. 18 Granite Status follow.)

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24, UPDATE: ANN ROMNEY HEADED TO NH. Ann Romney will campaign in New Hampshire on Monday, the same day the Obama campaign is bringing Vice President Joe Biden to the state (see item below.)

Details have yet to be released but a Romney campaign official said the visit will include a Romney campaign office (Victory Center) drop-by, a "Women for Mitt" event and a rally.

Mitt Romney last campaigned in New Hampshire on Sept. 7 and has been focusing on the close race in Ohio. His campaign promises he will come to New Hampshire before the election.

(Earlier updates and the full Oct. 18 Granite Status follow.)

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24, UPDATE: BARACK AND THE BIDENS. The Obama campaign is pouring it on in its effort to win battleground New Hampshire's four electoral votes.

A campaign official said today that Vice President Joe Biden will visit New Hampshire for a campaign event on Monday, Oct. 29. It will be his seventh visit to the state this year.

Biden will follow President Barack Obama, who will campaign in Nashua on Saturday, Oct. 27, and Dr. Jill Biden, who will be in the state on Friday, Oct. 26.

The news comes as new polling shows the race for the state's four electoral votes is a toss-up after Obama held small leads earlier in the campaign.

Rasmussen Reports this morning issued a poll showing a virtual dead heat. Mitt Romney led, 50 to 48 percent.

A poll commissioned by the liberal group, U.S. Action, showed also showed a statistical tie, this time with Obama leading, 48 to 45 percent.

The difference between the candidates in each poll was within the margin of error.

The Obama campaign says details on all three visits will be released shortly.

Mitt Romney's campaign says that Romney will be in New Hampshire again before the election. He last campaigned here on Sept. 7. Obama was last in the state last Thursday, Oct. 18.

(Earlier updates and the full Oct. 18 Granite Status follow.)

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24, UPDATE: KELLY CANCELS. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte today canceled a planned trip to Indiana to campaign with U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock after he made a controversial statement on abortion on Tuesday night.

At a debate, the Tea Party-backed Mourdock was asked whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest.

He said that he struggled with the issue, “but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended.”

His comments have been widely reported today, sparking criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.

Ayotte spokesman Jeff Grappone announced this morning that the New Hampshire senator's trip, which had been planned for today, “is canceled, and she is in New Hampshire today. She disagrees with Treasurer Mourdock's comments, which do not represent her views.”

Mourdock is the Indiana state treasurer.

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24, UPDATE: “NO INCOME TAX” RALLY TONIGHT. Supporters of a constitutional amendment to ban an income tax will rally Wednesday night in Nashua.

Kevin Smith, director of the No Income Tax PAC, and Jennifer Horn, founder of the We The People advocacy group, will be joined by U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass for the rally at 6:30 p.m. at Norton's Classic Caf, Main Street, Nashua.

“The No Income Tax rally provides a great opportunity to continue to the get message out and educate voters about ballot question number one,” said Smith. Approval of two-thirds of the voters are required to pass the amendment.

Bass has used the issue in his congressional campaign against Ann McLane Kuster.

(Earlier updates and the full Oct. 18 Granite Status follow.)

TUESDAY, OCT. 23, UPDATE: GOVERNORS FOR MAGGIE, OVIDE. Leaders of the Democratic and Republican governors associations are in New Hampshire today and tomorrow to help begin the stretch run for Maggie Hassan and Ovide Lamontagne, who remain locked in a tight gubernatorial battle just two weeks before the election.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, chairman of the Democratic Governor Association, is making several retail stops in Manchester with Hassan tonight, while tomorrow evening, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, vice chair of the Republican Governors Association, will return to the state for a rally with Lamontagne in Exeter.

On Friday, meanwhile, conservative author and talk show host Mark Steyn will be the featured guest at a fund-raiser for Lamontagne at the Capital Club in Concord. Steyn writes for the National Review and is a frequent guest host for Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

The DGA and the RGA are making big expenditures for television advertising attacking the two New Hampshire candidates.

O'Malley said Hassan “provides that steady, stable, forward-looking leadership that the people of New Hampshire look for in a governor.”

He noted that Hassan is the only woman running for governor this year, and if she wins, she would be the only woman Democratic governor.

O'Malley said some New Hampshire voters are “feeling some remorse over the hard right turn that the Legislature took” in 2010.

“If New Hampshire is going to continue to have an innovation economy, you need a governor that's not an ideologue,” said O'Malley.

O'Malley will campaign with Hassan Tuesday night at a fund-raiser for state Senate candidate Donna Soucy at the Aloha Restaurant. The two will then stop at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant, the
Red Arrow Diner, The Wild Rover Pub and the Strangebrew Tavern.

Christie and Lamontagne will hold a rally at the Exeter Town Hall at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

TUESDAY, OCT. 23 UPDATE: JILL BIDEN VISITS FRIDAY. President Barack Obama's campaign announced today that Dr. Jill Biden will campaign for Obama in New Hampshire on Friday, the day before Obama himself returns for an event in Nashua. Details of both visits will be announced later this week.

(Earlier updates and the full Oct. 18 Granite Status follow.)

MONDAY, OCT. 22, UPDATE: UNH POLL: OBAMA UP BY 8 PERCENT. A new poll has President Barack Obama back on top in the race for New Hampshire's four electoral votes. Obama will return to the state on Saturday (see item below).

After a series of recent polls showing Republican Mitt Romney has caught or is closing on Obama, a new Granite State Poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows Obama with an 8 percentage point lead -- 49 to 41 percent with 2 percent favoring some other candidate and 7 percent undecided.

A UNH-conducted poll on Oct. 1 had Obama with a 52 to 37 percent lead in New Hampshire. A week later, on Oct. 9, a UNH-conducted poll showed Obama with a lead of 47 to 41 percent.

The poll released today was conducted between Oct. 17 and 21, interviewed 773 randomly selected New Hampshire likely voters and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

According to the survey center, Obama leads among women by 57 to 34 percent while Romney has a slight edge among men, 49 to 42 percent. The race is tied at 48 percent among those who say they are extremely interested in the election.

UNH says each candidate is “securing” his base. Obama currently has the support of 94 percent of Democrats, including those who are undecided but lean to him, and Romney has the support of 91 percent of Republicans, including those who lean to him.

Independents are statistically tied with 37 percent favoring Romney and 39 percent favoring Obama.

UNH pointed out that fewer Granite Staters now believe Obama will win the election, although more still believe Obama will win than believe Romney will win. Forty-six percent now think Obama will win as compared to 61 percent two weeks ago, while 31 percent think Romney will win, UNH said.

(Earlier updates and the full Oct. 18 Granite Status follow.)

MONDAY, OCT. 22, UPDATE: BACK AGAIN ON SATURDAY. With polls continuing to show a tight race in swing state New Hampshire, President Barack Obama will return on Saturday, Oct. 27, for a campaign event in Nashua.

An Obama campaign official, confirming the visit, said details will be released later this week.

It will be Obama's second visit to the state in a 10-day period, his fifth campaign visit and sixth overall visit this year and the tenth visit to New Hampshire of his presidency.

The President was just in the state last Thursday, Oct. 18, campaigning at Veterans Park in Manchester. There was speculation among political observers during that visit whether he would make still another visit to the state before the election. The answer came Monday with the announcement of the Nashua stop.

He also campaigned in the state on Sept. 7 in Portsmouth, Aug. 18 in Windham and Rochester, and June 25 in Durham. He made an official presidential visit to Nashua on March 1.

And if the New Hampshire race remains close, as expected, it is entirely possible that Obama will squeeze in yet another visit in the final few days before the election.

Although Romney has a home in Wolfeboro, his last major campaign event in the state was back on Sept. 7 at Holman Stadium in Nashua after an unscheduled stop in Concord on Sept. 6 to meet with veterans. Previously, he appeared on Aug. 21 at Saint Anselm College with running mate Paul Ryan.

Ryan returned to the state on Sept. 18 and 29.

A Romney campaign official said Romney will “certainly” campaign in New Hampshire before Election Day. Local Republicans say the Romney campaign is intent, if not fixated, on winning New Hampshire.

The frequent Obama appearances shows the President's campaign feels the same way. His visits 10 days apart raise the question of why Romney has not been to the state lately.

But the Romney official pointed out that “another sign of how serious this campaign is” about New Hampshire is the fact that the campaign went up on Boston television for the first time in the campaign on Saturday, adding to its saturation of the southern New Hampshire market.

Nashua, where Obama will appear, is a key city in that market.

Obama's campaign has been advertising on Boston television for at least a month.

Vice President Joe Biden was most recently in the state on Sept. 22 and 23.

Both campaigns have also sent a steady stream of surrogates to New Hampshire, which is one of 11 battleground, or swing, states up for grabs.

The swing states include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as New Hampshire.

Although it has only four electoral votes, New Hampshire is viewed by both campaigns as potentially crucial to winning the election.

There are several scenarios in which New Hampshire could, in fact, decide the election.

The most recent New Hampshire presidential poll was released last Friday by Public Policy Polling, showing the race in a virtual dead heat.

Romney led, 49 to 48 percent, but the margin of error was 3 percent. The previous PPP presidential poll in the final week of September had Obama leading 51 to 43.5 percent.

Several other recent New Hampshire polls have the race tied or virtually tied within margins of error.


(The full Oct. 18 Granite Status follows.)

THURSDAY, OCT. 18: A PERFECT STORM? Secretary of State Bill Gardner is worried — very worried.

It could be a grueling Election Day at the polls.

New voter ID requirements, confusion over the status of voter registration requirements and the fact that the ballot is extra long this year could combine to make for long lines, long waits and overflowing parking lots.

To begin with, Gardner expects 100,000 new Election Day registrants.

He expects 60,000 of these to be new voters and 40,000 more from among the 160,000 that were removed from the checklist during an official checklist purge last year.

Completed every decade on the year ending in “1,” the purge removes anyone who did not vote in the previous two state general elections and local elections in between, and, who, after receiving notice that they're about to be removed, failed to notify their local election officials that they want to remain on the rolls.

The 2011 purge cut the checklist from 929,200 as of March, 1, 2011 to 766,979 as of Aug. 31, 2011. The number has crept up since then by about 25,000.

The most recent count provided by Gardner's office, posted on Monday, has 791,434 names on the checklist (307,805, or 38.8 percent, undeclared; 258,714, or 32.6 percent, Republican, and 224,915, or 28.4 percent Democrat).

Gardner expects the total to swell to about 900,000 on Election Day.

He is not yet prepared to predict voter turnout, but he noted the turnout has increased in every recent presidential election year — from 513,000 in 1996 to 578,000 in 2000 to 683,000 in 2004 to 719,000 in 2008.

Once at the polls, all voters will be required to present a valid ID (see the Secretary of State's Office's web site for details) under a new state law. Anyone who does not have a valid ID will be required to fill out a challenged voter affidavit before voting, which Gardner said could slow the line but is something “we can deal with.”

Registration is a different story, he said.

Those registering to vote at the polling place must fill a registration form that requires identification such as a driver's license number, even if the license is not from New Hampshire.

Gardner said new voter registration requirements struck down by a superior court this month would have provided clarity for local election officials and could have avoided a lot of voter questions. That assertion, of course, is arguable.

But without the new requirements, Gardner expects the same type of confusion at polling places that he saw in 2008.

Couple that with 100,000 new registrants and, well, you get the potentially messy picture.

“Think about 300 polling places with 100,000 new voters, all with questions,” he said.

Gardner is disappointed the state Supreme Court denied the attorney general's motion to stay the lower court order and allow the clarifying registration language to stand.

He's also disappointed the Supreme Court chose not to hear and decide the AG's challenge to the lower court order on an expedited basis. The high court then said it's unlikely the matter will be resolved before the election.

The attorney general has until the end of today to decide whether to ask the Supreme Court to reconsider the stay. Gardner said he has asked the AG's office to make the request.

“It's a big matter (for the Superior Court) to have made this kind of a decision for this election at this time,” Gardner said.

The voter ID requirements, he said, are relatively simple and quick to meet, he said.

“But voter registration is far more time-consuming.”

Once in the booth, voters will not only have candidates to choose, from President and governor on down; they will have three constitutional amendment questions to read, digest and decide.

Two questions are cut-and-dried: whether to ban an income tax and whether to hold a constitutional convention. But Question 2, regarding the relative power of the Legislature over court rules, is a bit convoluted.

Oh, one other thing: In Manchester, voters will also have to sort through no fewer than 62 names to choose nine members of the city's 2013 charter commission.

In some places, said Gardner, “It's going to be a long wait, and who's going to own the responsibility for this? We know who owns the voter registration part of it, at the moment, anyway.”

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FUND-RAISING. Congressional quarterly fund-raising numbers are in and 2nd District Democratic candidate Ann McLane Kuster is the big “winner.”

She raised $725,959 during the third quarter and $2.1 million in the full 2012 cycle through Sept. 30. She spent $1.17 million through Sept. 30 and reported entering October with $922,112 on hand.

Incumbent Republican Charlie Bass raised $472,000 during the quarter and $1.8 million during the cycle.

His campaign spent $1.15 million through Sept. 30 and entered October with $752,000 on hand.

In the 1st District, Democratic challenger Carol Shea-Porter raised $675,428 in the quarter and $807,000 during the cycle. She spent $692,000 during the cycle and had $652,578 on hand as of Oct. 1.

Incumbent Republican Frank Guinta raised $362,000 in the third quarter and $1.6 million so far in the cycle. He spent about $ 1 million through Sept. 30 and had $682,000 on hand.

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NO LONGER LEANING BLUE. For a long while since President Barack Obama's last visit to the state on Sept. 7, New Hampshire, while still a battleground state, was leaning blue, as several polls had him with high single-digit leads over Mitt Romney.

But since their first debate, things changed and the race has tightened up.

And after Tuesday night's knockdown, drag-out affair, there's no reason to believe either candidate has taken command of the state.

The most recent poll this week came from Suffolk University, which showed the race here deadlocked at 47 percent, with 2 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 4 percent undecided.

All of which makes Obama's visit to Veterans Park in Manchester today important for both camps.

Romney forces will have a presence near today's Obama event with protesters and a truck driving stocked with signs about the federal debt, under the theme “Buried in Debt.”

After Obama's visit, his New Hampshire campaign will launch “Around the Clock for Barack: the 24 Hour Tour for the Middle Class.”

Elected officials, including Delaware Governor Jack Markell, former U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, Newton, Mass. Mayor Setti Warren and former Massachusetts Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, will board an RV and make stops for 24 hours in all 10 counties.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain will be in-state today to campaign for Ovide Lamontagne at a fund-raiser at the Nashua Country Club.

He will overnight here and join Sen. Kelly Ayotte tomorrow for town halls on behalf Romney in Peterborough and Raymond.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Saturday will campaign for Romney at UNH in Durham, where his father, Ron Paul, was popular among students during his run for the GOP presidential nomination.

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OUT IN THE OPEN. It's been under the radar since Maggie Hassan first became a candidate for governor. Her primary foe, Jackie Cilley, wouldn't touch it.

But the Republican Governors Association this week broached the taboo topic: Hassan and her husband don't pay property taxes on the home in which they live.

“Maggie Hassan believes in high taxes, just nor for herself,” says a new RGA ad.

The ad calls the house “her half-million-dollar home,” but the Hassan campaign say that's not true.

The campaign points out it's owned by Phillips Exeter Academy, where Hassan's husband is the principal.

Hassan's campaign called the ad “a misleading personal attack” on her and her family.

Still, it brings up the question of how Hassan can relate to the plight of the average Granite Stater while living on the campus of one of the most exclusive private schools in the country.

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OVIDE, MAGGIE: CLOSE. If you needed any further evidence of what appears to be a razor tight race for governor, consider two polls this week.

A Rasmussen survey of 500 likely voters had a statistical dead heat. Hassan led 48 to 46 percent, margin of error was 4.5 percent.

A poll by the pro-Democratic Feldman Group conducted for the Democratic Governors Association had Hassan up by only 6 percentage points, 49 to 43 percent.

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CONSERVATIVE SUPER-PAC FOR ROMNEY. The self-described grassroots SuperPAC America's Next Generation will try to appeal to staunch conservatives who may not be enamored with Romney in an ad set to air shortly in New Hampshire.

The ad features Tough language, such as, “If Obama wins, our America is gone forever,” and, “Our religious freedom, Second Amendment, and constitutional rights — crushed.”

The SuperPAC's spokesman is former Newt Gingrich spokesman and former John E. Sununu staffer R.C. Hammond, who has set up his own communications firm. He says the ANG has been focusing on Ohio but believes “the presidential election comes down to two states — New Hampshire and Ohio.

“While the Romney campaign and allied SuperPACs will focus on turning out independent voters, America's Next Generation will focus on turning out the conservative base,” he said.

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NO INCOME TAX RALLY. Kevin Smith, former candidate for governor and current chair of the “No Income Tax PAC,” and Jennifer Horn, founder of “We The People,” will host a rally promoting a “yes” vote on Question 1 (no income tax) on Oct. 24 at Norton's Classic Cafe in Nashua. Rep. Bass will be the featured speaker.

Smith said the national issues advocacy group Americans for Limited Government will soon become involved in the campaign to pass the amendment. He said it was involved in efforts to pass a tax cap in Manchester several years ago, working with the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition.

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$1.84 A GALLON! Here's a “cheap” publicity stunt — literally.

Republican former state Senate President Art Klemm will drop the price of gas to $1.84 a gallon at Klemm's Mobil on Elm Street in Manchester for a while on Sunday to highlight what it cost when Obama took office nearly four years ago.

The conservative Americans for Prosperity is sponsoring the event to highlight “Obama's failed 'Green' agenda, which, it says, has driven up the cost of gas.

AFP says it will reimburse Klemm for the discount on the price.

Get there early. AFP says the discount will be limited to the first 150 vehicles or 90 minutes of distribution (11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.), whichever comes first.

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IN THE MAIL. In our continuing mailbox watch, a Manchester friend this week received at his home no fewer than four pieces from the New Hampshire Democratic Party: two anti-Romney, one pro-Shea-Porter and one anti-Guinta.

His home also received three anti-Shea-Porter pieces: from the aforementioned AFP, the New Hampshire Republican Party and the YG Network.

The YG Network is an advocacy group associated with the YG Action Fund, a SuperPAC run by two of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's former deputy chiefs of staff, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

YG, short for “Young Guns,” is targeting Democrats Shea-Porter, John Tierney of Massachusetts and John Barrow of Georgia.

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FOCUS ON CAROL. Also focusing on Shea-Porter is the conservative advocacy group American Action Network, which this week launched its first ad in a $2 million television and web campaign in the 1st District.

The ad contends Shea-Porter was a “rubber stamp” for former House speaker Nancy Pelosi and “the failed liberal agenda of higher taxes and reckless spending” during her four years in Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Republican-affiliated groups appear to be ready to outspend pro-Democratic groups $2.3 million to $675,000 in the final weeks of the 1st District race.

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QUICK TAKES:

-- Our deepest condolences go to the family of former U.S. Sen. John Durkin, who died this week. The senator was always one of our most entertaining and enjoyable interviews and certainly a Democrat's Democrat.

-- Guinta's campaign this week wrote a “cease and desist” letter to TV stations airing a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad that claims Guinta “voted to make you pay over $1,000 a year more in taxes.” Guinta's campaign called the claim “an absurd misrepresentation.”

-- Another conservative group, Karl Rove's American Crossroads, has launched a new $1.3 million buy in New Hampshire with an ad blaming Obama for a weak economy. The ad shows a woman sitting at a kitchen table interrupting an Obama campaign ad in which Obama talks about sitting down with voters at the kitchen table. She asks the President, “Where are the jobs you promised? The trillions you spent — where did it all go? What's there to show for all of that new debt? And if we're in a recovery, why are we making less?”

-- Former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Chris Spirou this week issued an open letter to Romney blasting him for using Greece's economic woes as an example when he talks about the national deficit and debt.

-- The Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund, a national pro-life PAC, endorsed Lamontagne yesterday, calling him “a long-time pro-life advocate” and saying Hassan “has repeatedly failed to protect New Hampshire children and families from abortion.”

-- The Temple Adath Yeshurun Brotherhood will host its candidates breakfast on Sunday at 10 a.m. Lamontagne and Hassan, Shea-Porter and Guinta, and surrogates for Obama and Romney will appear.

-- AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler will lead a workers' canvass on the Seacoast on Sunday, going door-to-door for Democrats Obama, Hassan and state Senate candidate Bev Hollingworth. Shuler is described as the highest-ranking woman in the labor movement.

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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 jdistaso@unionleader.com. Twitter: @jdistaso.


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