Tag Archives: health care bill

Supporters at house parties say Kuster is “the real deal”

15 Jul

CHICHESTER — It’s hard to put your finger on why, exactly, Ann McLane Kuster‘s campaign seems so different.

Maybe it’s the enthusiastic young interns who have come from all over the country to support her. Maybe it’s the impressive efficiency and organization of her campaign, or the crowds that flock to her house parties. Or maybe it’s the candidate herself, incredibly warm and down to earth.

But it seemed perfectly summed  up by the supporter who told me, “you just know when you see the real deal.” For a lot of voters, Kuster seems to be the “real deal.”

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She raised more money than any other candidate running for Congress in New Hampshire history, but Kuster is more than just a money machine. The woman is friendly and outgoing, honest with voters when she doesn’t know something, and refreshingly confident in herself and her opinions.

In Wednesday’s house party in Chichester (a town that voted for Bush in ’00 and ’04, McCain in ’08), Kuster’s campaigning strength was on full display.

A hallmark of her grassroots campaign, the house party allows her to talk to voters throughout the state in a comfortable environment that isn’t reliant on political connections.

Sally Kelly, a Democratic representative in the New Hampshire House and a friend of Kuster’s, hosted more than 30 of her friends and neighbors in her house Wednesday night. Not all were Democrats, and certainly not all knew of Kuster.

The attendants, mostly middle-aged men and women, packed Kelly’s living room to drink lemonade and pick up bumper stickers scattered around the room. They listened to the candidate give her basic speech, and then asked questions.

“How do you feel about subsidies for nuclear energy plants?”

“How will you ensure that my family gets health care coverage?”

“What will you do to help young people right out of college find jobs?”

The questions were varied, and Kuster did her best to answer them, politely disagreeing with some people and listening attentively to all their concerns. (It could not have been a  more marked difference from another candidate’s now-infamous interaction with voters.) The applause was boisterous at the end.

“This person is such an incredible human being,” said an enthusiastic Kelly. “All of you will feel like you’ve been best friends with Annie when you leave. She’s just that kind of a person.”

Kuster is willing to talk about her struggles and laugh at herself, which is refreshing.

“This year, I told myself I was going to raise a million dollars and lose 20 pounds,” she said. “And I don’t know which was harder. But I raised the million dollars.”

Perhaps this is the kind of honesty that has endeared herself to voters throughout the state. It might also be a level of honesty that will make her an easy target for her more polished Democratic opponent or the Republicans.

But based on the level of enthusiasm among her supporters, it might not be as much of a weakness as the others would hope.

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Kuster says self-doubt will challenge Dems in November

24 Jun

WINDHAM, NH — As far as Ann McLane Kuster is concerned, it won’t necessarily be the GOP standing in the way of a Democrat victory in November.

“I don’t think Democrats will lose to Republicans. I think we’ll lose to our own hand-wringing,” she told Democrats from Windham, NH, at a meeting Thursday night.

Kuster speaks to Democrats in Windham on Thursday night.

In addressing the diverse and attentive crowd, Kuster spoke honestly and articulately about the challenges facing Democrats this fall but also the opportunities that await them.

“Republicans are excited, the Tea Party is just filling the airwaves,” she said. “Even within our own party we have our self-doubt threatening our ability to move forward.”

But Kuster urged Democrats tired from the tumult and emotion of the 2008 campaign to “get up off the couch” and get to work electing a Congress that can work with President Barack Obama.

And getting up off the couch certainly seems to be a life philosophy Kuster herself sticks to. It’s hard to imagine this smart and energetic woman sitting still for long.

In her first run, Kuster has launched one of the most dynamic campaigns New Hampshire has seen, raising more money from Granite state voters than any other Congressional candidate in the state’s history and launching a successful grassroots campaign throughout the district.

A self-proclaimed wonk, Kuster is both approachable and down-to-earth. She lacks the polished presentation of politician Katrina Swett or former talk show host Jennifer Horn, but for many voters, this will probably add to her appeal.

Kuster will certainly not win any votes among the supporters of Horn or Bob Giuda — haters of “Obamacare” won’t be fans. And for many in the state that value personal liberty above all else, she might seem a bit too “big government” to win them over.

But Kuster spoke well about her passion for women’s issues, renewable energy, health care and financial reform — all issues that affect the average voter.

“I tell people it’s a basic civics lesson,” she said. “We had a huge change and sent a new president to the White House, but we haven’t yet given him the Congress he can work with.”

When asked about Democrats and deficit spending — a topic Republicans love to bemoan — Kuster said she supports troop withdrawals from Iraq and a rolling back of tax cuts on the wealthy, in addition to more fiscally prudent spending.

“I’m a frugal Yankee,” she said. “Our car has 205,000 miles on it. We joke that it won’t last the campaign. I know how to stretch a buck.”

Until the candidate financial reports are released next week, it’s unclear exactly how many bucks Kuster will have to stretch in this campaign. But either way, Katrina Swett will have no easy time coasting to victory in November.

Check out the candidates’ first-quarter financial data — including cash on hand and money raised so far — here at OpenSecrets.org. Second-quarter reports are due at the end of June.

Giuda urges pragmatism, vows to fight “crisis of leadership”

5 Jun

AMHERST, NH — Bob Giuda gets angry when he thinks about the problems facing the country today.

“There’s so much wrong that I could talk for hours,” he told the approximately 20 members of the Amherst Republican Committee who came to Joey’s Diner on Rt. 101 to hear him speak Saturday morning.

Guida speaks to supporters in Joey's Diner on Saturday morning.

Giuda spoke with passion and vigor this morning in his condemnation of the current Democratic leadership, fiscal irresponsibility and misdirected legislation that he said is threatening the country. He received seemingly positive support from his mostly middle-aged, conservative audience.

He is hoping to overtake the more moderate, and previously elected, Charlie Bass and conservative former talk show host Jennifer Horn in the Republican primary September 14.

“What people tell me about myself that distinguishes me from others is that I get the job done,” he said.

Giuda was sharply critical of Democrats, saying he thinks legislators should have been focusing on national security issues before addressing health care, among other missteps in leadership.

“While we sat here playing with healthcare for 14 or 15 months, the People’s Republic of China bought 90 percent of the world’s lithium,” he said. “While we are playing with things that are not strategic priorities, China’s out there gaining control of a major source of the world’s energy.”

Members of the Amherst Republican Committee listen to Giuda speak.

He spoke in favor of offshore drilling and nuclear energy, called the Environmental Protection Agency “over the top,” and said immigration problems will not be solved until the United States takes a more dramatic approach.

“The answer to immigration is simple, although not necessarily politically palatable,” he said. “If you don’t have a wall, you don’t have a border.”

Giuda, who has served as an airline pilot and has experience in foreign policy, bills himself as a pragmatist willing to get the job done when other legislators might falter. He said he will oppose Congressional earmarks and unnecessary expenditures in an effort to reform the federal government. And he even took a jab at his opponents while he was at it.

“With the crisis of leadership that we have in Congress,  to send someone down there who has been and not led, or someone who has never led, is not the answer.”

Bass talks fiscal responsibility to Brookline-Mason GOP

3 Jun

BROOKLINE, NH — Republican Charlie Bass came to the Brookline-Mason Republican Committee meeting Thursday to explain how, if elected to represent New Hampshire’s 2nd district in the United States Congress, he would bring fiscal responsibility to Washington and put a halt to irresponsible government spending.

For the approximately nine members of the local Republican group who attended Bass’ speech, there was more to discuss than candidate aspirations.

Bass speaks to members of the Brookline-Mason Republican committee.

Bass served in Congress from 1994 to 2006, and many of the New Hampshire residents who showed up to the meeting at the Brookline Firehouse had questions about his previous voting record in Congress, at times criticizing him for not taking more typically conservative stances on issues such as immigration or oil drilling.

But in general, the tone was anti-Obama, anti-Democrat and anti-spending. And both Bass and his constituents were in agreement on that.

“Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or a liberal or a conservative, it makes no difference,” Bass said. “We just can’t sustain the size of government today.”

Bass called for a more fiscally responsible federal budget, promotion of clean energy, job creation and for a “repeal and re-work” of the health care bill.

“There’s no discussion about it,” Bass said of federal deficit spending initiated by Democrats. “It’s a ‘don’t worry be happy’ attitude.”

He spoke to a Republican group who also voiced their own complaints, speaking in opposition to illegal immigration and temporary workers who they said threatened their jobs.

Bass spoke to members of the Brookline Mason GOP meeting at the local firehouse.

“America is us,” said one angry member. “America is people also collecting health care from Barack. America is now Barack’s aunt, who is here forever.”

Bass had to raise his voice to be heard over the noise of a lawnmower while speaking to a group that battled high school graduations and family commitments in trying to achieve quorum at their monthly meeting. The group has hosted Republican candidates for various state and national offices.

“Everyone thinks you need to be a Democrat to be cool,” said Eric Pauer, the group’s secretary, who noted that they now have about 80 members.

Bass emphasized his committment to improving life for New Hampshire’s residents, and his ability to “know what needs to be done right away.”

“I never thought I’d be standing in this room. I never thought I’d be contemplating running for Congress,” he said. “When I left the podium in November of 2006, I honestly never thought I’d enter politics again.”

But he said he decided to run again to deal with the new problems facing the federal government.

“The issue we face today is the impact the change in leadership has had on the fiscal stability of the nation, and having a different approach than how the current leadership has acted is why I am running,” he said.

And the attendants at the meeting certainly agreed with Bass on the dangers of deficit spending and providing unnecessary benefits to individuals. Discussion of an entitlement to permanent disability insurance when an individual has “lost the will to work” drew incredulous laughs from the group, and one man suggested requiring citizens submit to a drug test if they receive government benefits.

“Government is the same creeping giant that is slowly killing us,” the man said. “All my life, government’s been getting bigger and interfering in our freedoms in this country.”

To see Bass’ upcoming campaign events, click here.