Tag Archives: President Barack Obama

Weekly Wrap — July 11-17

18 Jul

Each weekend I post a “Weekly Wrap,” or my impressions of the race as they played out during the past seven days.

With second quarter fundraising reports rolling in and less than two months until the primary, it was a fun week to be in New Hampshire. Here are my observations on the five candidates:

1. Katrina Swett is a smart lady

Bob Giuda’s campaign manager said this to me about a month ago, and I didn’t entirely understand what he meant by it — the Democrat hasn’t been particularly visible on the campaign trail in the past few months.

But as I have watched Swett begin to unveil her campaign and interact with voters, I’ve been impressed with her clear message and determination. She has more than $1 million on hand, extensive name recognition and a clear passion for politics and the people she wants to serve.

Swett is a strong moderate in a state that is reluctant to elect ideologues. The Democrats must feel lucky to have her.

  • Raised this quarter: $187,984
  • Cash on hand: $1,150,607

2. Ann McLane Kuster reminds people of Obama

I’m not saying Ann McLane Kuster is Obama. But when I asked her interns why they were motivated to work for her, they spoke with the deep convictions and starry eyes that graced Obama supporters in 2008 and propelled his buzz words of “hope” and “change” into the modern lexicon.

One young woman told me, “you just know when you see the real deal.” So far, I haven’t seen similar sentiments expressed about any of the other candidates.

Kuster’s challenge in this election will be mobilizing Obama liberals to continue believing in that hope and change that made 2008 historic. She is the underdog, the idealist and the liberal.

She is smart to focus her rhetoric on creating jobs, because if voters get frustrated by the economy or lack of results from national Democrats, her more moderate competitor will pick up votes.

But Americans love an underdog and a populist, and for many, Kuster is “the real deal.” The Democrats must feel lucky to have her.

  • Raised this quarter: $316,307
  • Cash on hand: $745,048

3. Charlie Bass is like vanilla ice cream

Stephanie Micklon, a 62-year-old resident of Salem who served in the NH legislature as a Republican and then a Democrat in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, made this comparison about Charlie Bass when I spoke to her at a fundraiser for Swett. I thought it was a clever description for the moderate Republican who hasn’t shown much pizzaz so far on the trail.

“Charlie I always felt was like vanilla ice cream. If you go into an ice cream store vanilla isn’t your first choice. You probably wouldn’t pick it out. But by itself, it’s fine. It’s not offensive — it’s just blah.”

  • Raised this quarter: $178,749
  • Cash on hand: $370,899

4. Jennifer Horn will always win a seat at the Tea Party

While the candidate lacks broad appeal among voters (who will not forget how she was trounced by Paul Hodes in 2008), there is room for a conservative to Bass’s right in the race. And for many who don’t know of or care for Bob Giuda, Jennifer Horn fits the mold.

Polished, professional and articulate, Horn gives a fresh face to the Tea Party movement and continues to win support from a growing number of conservatives in the state, as evidenced by recent straw polls. She’s a former radio show host who knows how to talk so people will listen, and this has served her well on the trail.

But this hasn’t translated into fundraising might. And whether she can overcome Bass in a state-wide election is still doubtful.

  • Raised this quarter: $50,611
  • Cash on hand: $31,407

5. Bob Giuda is still chugging

While the candidate has raised almost no money and will probably be known as the man who made some seriously questionable remarks about gay marriage, Giuda is still plugging away.

I’m not surprised. He loaned his campaign more than $80,000 so far — he is clearly in the race for strong personal and political convictions. Those weren’t likely to go away with one misstep.

  • Raised this quarter: $4,749
  • Cash on hand: $115,377

Note: Finance numbers came from posts by Red Hampshire, Open Secrets, and The Washington Post. Check out these sources — all are great to look at to learn more about the candidates and fundraising.

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Video of Bow forum

16 Jul

Watch the video below of Ann McLane Kuster and Katrina Swett speaking at the Bow Democrats forum Thursday night. And if you missed it, read the recap here.

Weekly Wrap — June 20-26

27 Jun

Each weekend I post a “Weekly Wrap,” or my impressions of the race as they played out during the past seven days.

Below are my top three observations of the week:

1. Republicans are angry, Democrats are anxious

When Ann McLane Kuster said this week that Democrats wouldn’t be beaten by Republicans but by their own hand-wringing, I think she struck a chord with her audience that night.

Democrats gave it everything they had in 2008, electing President Barack Obama on promises of hope and change that would be hard for most individuals to live up to.

And Democrats are worried. They’re worried Obama’s not moving fast enough, that he hasn’t closed down Guantanamo or jump-started the economy as everyone had hoped. They see the prospects of a GOP takeover in the fall and prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it’s understandable that Obama’s approval ratings have taken a dip.

On the right, Republicans have watched the first 18 months of the Obama administration in horror — especially those Republicans in New Hampshire who believe in good old Yankee frugality. Most have been outraged watching the national debt balloon and the federal government spend money with abandon.

2. Republicans focused on party unity, Democrats with connecting

So how these different voter fears have played out within the parties has affected how the candidates campaign — in locations, types of event, and messages conveyed. While the veteran candidates with more name recognition (Republican Charlie Bass and Democrat Katrina Swett) have been slightly less visible in the district so far, the party differences seem to generally hold true.

Most Republican campaign events so far have featured all three candidates in conjunction with the rest of the GOP hopefuls for Congressional, Senatorial, and Gubernatorial offices. There is usually a great show of party solidarity against the Democrats at these picnics, dinners, and ice cream socials where most of the supporters are white, middle-class couples.

Most of the Republican candidates also attend a good number of town GOP committee meetings, where they are invited to talk about why they are running and take questions. These meetings, which are usually sparsely but passionately attended, are probably a good indicator of Republican sentiment and potential for voter turnout — strong and stronger.

The Democrats have campaigned differently so far. Kuster has launched series of house parties, talking to voters in their homes throughout the state, striking a familiar tone with constituents and creating a different atmosphere than formal town meetings. Swett has not been very visible at all, although that will likely change as the primary nears.

But both have worked to highlight their ties to the state, their commitments to traditionally Democratic social causes, and Republican connections to Washington in an attempt to forge personal — over party — relationships with voters.

3. Free Staters: anyone’s guess

An auction at PorcFest, where particpants could bid on a framed Ron Paul picture, handgun holders, bottles of wine, and "Don't Tread on Me" flags.

This is more tangentially related to the campaign, but I attended a portion of the NH Free State Project‘s “PorcFest” this weekend. And boy was that interesting.

At first glance, it was a gun-toting, weed-smoking, Ron Paul t-shirt-wearing free for all. There were people camping everywhere, and no shortage of “Obama Bin Lyin” bumper stickers or alcohol. It was a very peculiar sight.

But the movement, which is organized by Libertarians hoping to move 20,000 people to the state and assert their political influence, gave an interesting sense of New Hampshire’s strong independent streak and often negative reactions toward government.

While most of the PorcFest-goers won’t vote in the New Hampshire primary — many are out-of-state — the fact that they see the state as a friendly receptor of their movement and positive place to live says a lot about the potential future of politics here.

And the future of Ron Paul t-shirt vendors.

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.

Horn grasps at history to “connect” with voters

17 Jun

CONCORD, NH — At the Concord GOP meeting, Senate candidate Ovide LaMontagne articulated the ideal in American politics, and the hope of many Republicans for November.

“It’s not going to be about the candidate with the most money. It’s going to be about the candidate that connects the best with the people,” he told the small crowd gathered Thursday night.

The cover of a pamphlet promoting Jennifer Horn, with an image of the Boston Tea Party used to galvanize voters.

This theory may be no more than a hope, but for Jennifer Horn, who is working to catch up to more successful fundraising opponents from both parties, connecting with voters is her best bet.

But Horn’s not looking to flashy new language and images designed in the 21st century. She’s looking to the 18th.

Trying to capitalize on Tea Party Movement successes in other parts of the country and voters angry with Democratic spending and health care measures, Horn has sought to make connections between the current political state and that of the American Revolution.

A recent campaign flier shows the original Boston Tea Party and urges voters to view the outcome of the 2010 elections as equally important as the challenges that faced the Founding Fathers. Horn frequently calls the upcoming election the most important in her lifetime, and urges voters to bring a “new day” to politics.

Republicans at local town meetings certainly seem galvanized about the election and eager to have their turn at the helm of government. For many, they haven’t seen the change President Obama promised in his campaign, and they’re ready to downgrade the size of federal government — especially Republicans in New Hampshire.

With moderate Charlie Bass running a solid campaign based on his experience in Washington, Horn and fellow conservative Bob Giuda have significant leeway to move significantly to his right, capturing voters frustrated with the former Congressman’s moderate stance — explaining why Horn might present herself as a modern-day Patrick Henry.

Of course, it’s possible that voters will view Horn’s strict interpretation of the Constitution, grasps at American Revolution allusions  and parchment paper-website backgrounds as entirely ridiculous.

But the strategy has proven successful for others. And for Horn, the chances that voters angry with Democrats and President Obama will admire her appreciation for history and grasp of rhetoric is probably too great to pass up.