NASHUA — While former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown headlined a private Republican holiday party downtown on Thursday, two separate groups of protesters rallied outside for different causes.
About 250 members of the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition gathered peacefully across from the Hunt Memorial Building where the Republicans gathered, demonstrating against Brown, who they referred to as a "gun-banning Massachusetts carpet-bagger."
Meanwhile, a group of Nashua Democrats also gathered in opposition of Brown, who has not yet said whether he will make a run for Senate in the Granite State and challenge Democrat incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
The New Hampshire Republican State Committee hosted the fundraising holiday party, selling tickets for $50 to $2,500.
Jennifer Horn, state GOP chairman, said this week that the event was closed to the press, and that media would not be permitted inside to hear Brown's speech. To her word, a small group of reporters was asked to leave the building at the start of the fundraiser.
"Senator Brown is one of five or six prominent Republicans to come to the state this year to help raise resources, and we are grateful for that," said Horn. "I appreciate that he is coming up here to help the party."
Horn went on to say that Republicans have a longstanding tradition of listening to what candidates and potential candidates have to say about various issues.
Speculation about whether Brown will challenge incumbent Shaheen has been on the rise this week as Brown confirmed he is moving to New Hampshire. He sold his house in Wrentham, Mass., and is relocating to Rye where he owns a vacation home.
Still, he told the New Hampshire Union Leader in an email on Thursday that he has "nothing to announce" regarding the possible Senate run.
His visit Thursday in Nashua was Brown's 13th public appearance in New Hampshire this year.
"My returning to New Hampshire is strictly personal. For those who have read my book, you know that my first home was in New Hampshire. My family and I have long and strong ties to the Granite State that go back many generations," Brown wrote in the statement. " … Once we get settled, we will do what many other people have done upon moving to New Hampshire. We will register to vote, get new licenses and enjoy the fact that there is no income or sales tax in New Hampshire."
While Horn's committee collected gifts for the Salvation Army, participants with the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition were encouraged to bring toy guns to their own rally across the street.
"I want to stand up for the Republican platform, and it frustrates me that party leadership is caving," State Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton, said Thursday during the rally. "He needs to come out and say 'yes' or 'no,' whether he is going to run or not."
In addition to the toy gun collection, AMMO2U, a New Hampshire-based company, donated 1000 rounds of ammunition to be handed out at the protest. In addition, a Colt LE6920 was also given away.
When asked about the protest by the gun-rights group, Horn said it is their right to demonstrate.
"It is all part of the process, and making their voices heard," Horn said this week.