GREENFIELD, NH — Sunday’s Flag Day Picnic hosted by the Hillsborough County Republican Committee had all the elements of a fun event: smoking barbecue, a few shouting children, colorful American and state flags, snarky bumper stickers, and chattering political supporters.
What it lacked was charismatic or exciting candidates for office.
Bob Giuda was noticeably absent from the event — his campaign manager Roger Johnson spoke in his place.
Bass’s speech was neither fresh nor inspired. He spoke of his desire to cut government spending and curb the strength of the Democrats, but he came across as a bit tired.
He also didn’t seem to receive much of a response from his audience, a group that arguably should provide some of his strongest support.
Horn’s speech was certainly more energized and polished than Bass’s, but she spoke in clichés and platitudes that were at times excessive and trite.
At one point, she said she was “pleased by every opportunity to pledge allegiance to the American flag.” While an admirable goal, it came across as a bit of a grasp to connect to the day’s flag theme.
She did receive a slightly more enthusiastic reaction from the mostly older crowd than Bass, but she seemed to lack the candor and “Mom-next-door” quality she displayed at previous appearances.
Perhaps predictably so, neither of the candidates made overt criticisms of each other or Giuda — this was a Republican event for Republicans to build support for each other. But Bass did make one of the more critical assessments of his Democratic opponents in the race so far.
“Well, I don’t need to tell you that Annie McLane Kuster has laced herself up about as tightly with President Obama as anyone could,” Bass said, eliciting chuckles from the audience. “And Katrina Lantos Swett, in the Swett tradition, is trying to be everything to everybody. Sometimes I wonder if she’s even a Democrat. I don’t know.”
Johnson said in an interview that he thought it would be difficult for Kuster to run to Obama’s left, when the President is already too liberal for many New Hampshire voters. And this may be the case.
But the lackluster Republican support for Bass and Horn — not to mention Giuda’s absence — could indicate greater problems are facing the GOP than running with an unpopular president.
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