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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Hassan to appear with Biden in Nashua next week; Shaheen, Shea-Porter, Kuster to be in DC

By John DiStaso, Senior Political Reporter
March 21. 2014 11:57AM

FRIDAY, MARCH 21: APPEARING WITH JOE? Vice President Joe Biden next week will return to New Hampshire for the first time since the 2012 campaign.

Biden was a frequent visitor in the months leading up to his and President Barack Obama's reelection but he has not been back, until now.

Earlier today, the White House announced that Biden will make an official visit, as opposed to a campaign-related visit, to Nashua on Tuesday.

The White House said he will appear at an event "highlighting workforce development and the value of on-the-job training opportunities."

Neither the venue nor time were immediately announced.

State Republicans quickly jumped on the announcement by asking whether the three Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation and Gov. Maggie Hassan would appear with Biden.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's spokesman, Shripal Shah, said the senator will be on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, attending a meeting of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee she chairs. Shah also noted that voting on resolutions related to the crisis in Ukraine begins on Monday.

Spokesmen for Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster said they will also be in Washington on Tuesday.

Shea-Porter spokesman Ben Wakana said she "is a big proponent of workforce development and on-the-job training, but votes are scheduled on Tuesday, so she'll be representing New Hampshire in Congress that day."

Kuster spokesman Rosie Hilmer said she "will be focused on representing the interests of her constituents in Congress and fighting to create jobs and opportunity for Granite Staters."

Hassan spokesman Marc Goldberg said governor plans to attend. He said she has been focused on workforce development and on-the-job training and appreciates the "national recognition" the vice presidential visit brings.

Obviously, the NHGOP is aware of Obama's less-than-stellar poll numbers in the state and the unpopularity of Obamacare. Shaheen earlier this week declined to say whether would welcome an Obama visit to the state.

The Biden visit is officially nonpolitical, but the announcement happens to come a week after former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown announced an exploratory committee to "prepare" for a run for the Shaheen seat.

If he makes it official, as expected, he'd first face a primary with former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, former state Sen. Jim Rubens and conservative activist Karen Testerman.

In a statement, NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn said, "Senator Shaheen, Governor Hassan and Representatives Kuster and Shea-Porter have all been enthusiastic backers of the failed Obama-Biden agenda that has hurt New Hampshire families. They should use the vice president's trip as an opportunity to appear with him and personally defend their unwavering support for ObamaCare, the president's job killing tax increases and his radical policies that will increase the cost of energy for the middle class."

NHDP Chairman Raymond Buckley said, "Joe Biden has been making visits to the Granite State for the last 30 years, allowing countless Granite Staters to directly interact with the Vice President. I'm sure this trip will once again highlight the clear contrast between the Democratic Party's vision of progress and expanded opportunity for New Hampshire families, and the Republican Party's plan to revert back to the failed policies of the past while pushing a radical social agenda, instead of focusing on putting Americans back to work.

"This trip would also be a great chance for former Republican Party Chair Fergus Cullen and Republican State Representative Herb Richardson to meet with the Vice President and share their positive experiences with the Affordable Care Act, saving each of their families thousands of dollars a year on health insurance. We sincerely hope that they will be able to attend the event."

Cullen earlier this week reportedly said he will save $1,000 a month in premiums for his family's health care package under Obamacare, but also said he expects anticipates higher out-of-pocket costs and is unhappy with what he views as insufficient information about options.

Richardson and his reportedly told Brown this week that Obamacare had been a "financial lifesaver" for him and his wife.

(An earlier Granite Status report follows.)

FRIDAY, MARCH 21: POLLING FOR WALT? A key New Hampshire Republican tells the Granite Status he was polled Thursday night by the Republican Governors Association, with the focus on former BAE chief executive Walt Havenstein, who is considering running for governor.

According to our source, there were standard vulnerability testing issues asked about Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

The poll asked a generic ballot on the governor's race, such as should Hassan be reelected, awareness testing, favorable/unfavorable. Similar questions where then asked about Havenstein.

Further questions were asked about Hassan and Havenstein after basic narrative information was given.

Also tested were U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen as well as former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who is exploring a run against her.

Among the issues tested were Northern Pass, Medicaid expansion, casinos and a gas tax hike.

Our source said he was asked to give an opinion of the Tea Party and the National Rifle Association.

According to the source, there were no questions involved announced GOP candidate for governor Andrew Hemingway, no congressional questions, no other U.S. Senate questions and no generic state legislative ballot.

He said the caller voluntarily identified the sponsor as the RGA.

The poll shows that while Havenstein remains below the radar, interest in him as a candidate for governor is high not only in New Hampshire, but also in Washington.

This Republican came away from the poll with the distinct impression that the poll was done "to help encourage Walter to join the race."

(See earlier Granite Status reports elsewhere on this page or by clicking on "Granite Status" above.)

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