A fly in the GOP’s ointment

New Hampshire is known for turning Republican presidential primaries upside down.

It could happen again this year.

“We’re a little tiny state, but we get to go out and rub shoulders with all of the candidates, and be a big part of the big decision,” says Cindy Horvath, 46, an undecided Republican voter from Somersworth.

And, she added, have a big impact.

Polls show a tight race for the GOP nomination in the state. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are in strong contention. Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul could complicate an already muddled contest.

Uncertainties abound:

  • For starters, a date for the primary hasn’t even been set.
  • Independents can vote in either party’s primary, making them a wild card.
  • Many declared Republicans say they’re still undecided.
  • Paul, a libertarian-leaning long-shot Texas congressman, could emerge as a serious contender in the “Live Free or Die” state.

The state’s recent history is rife with Republican primary voters giving non-establishment candidates a boost, and rocking the race.

In the last contested GOP primary, in 2000, underdog McCain camped out in New Hampshire and soared to a stunning 19 percentage point win over establishment favorite George W. Bush. In 1996, conservative pundit Patrick Buchanan won the primary over Bob Dole with 27 percent of the vote. Four years earlier, Buchanan took 37 percent, but he lost both the New Hampshire primary and the nomination to the incumbent president, George H.W. Bush.

This time, New Hampshire is fertile ground for several candidates, and the multi-person field has fractured the GOP primary electorate. In a state traditionally home to more economic conservatives than social conservatives, everyone is pitching a message of low taxes and restrained spending.

“It’s no different than past cycles,” said Fergus Cullen, the state GOP chairman. “There are few states where all the candidates are coming to campaign and are fully resourced. Today, we have five or six candidates that are playing hard here.”

They haven’t begun to run negative TV or radio ads. But hard-hitting commercials are all but certain given the wide-open race in an early voting state that historically has tolerated negative campaigning more so than others.

Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, has a slight edge in most polls. He could be considered a part-time resident of the state considering his lakeside vacation home and his weekly campaigning here. The multimillionaire venture capitalist has emphasized his management experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. He’s spent about $4 million on TV and radio ads here since going on the air early this year.

Giulaini, the former New York mayor leading in national polls, is playing to win after months of focusing elsewhere. He has made eight recent visits and has flooded mailboxes with literature while spending some $300,000 on radio ads. He’s increasing his state staff and courting the Seacoast region that’s home to moderates and independents. A fellow Northeasterner, he’s known for putting New York back on solid financial ground and for his resolve following the Sept. 11 attacks.

McCain, the Arizona senator, remains a favorite among a segment of hard-core supporters from 2000. But his bid back then was fueled in part by independents, and their support for him this time is not guaranteed. Still, McCain, a longtime deficit hawk who rails against runaway spending, is looking to New Hampshire for a comeback after summer stumbles. He’s running TV ads emphasizing his military service as surveys show an uptick in support.

Among the others, Thompson, the actor and ex-senator from Tennessee, promised to be in New Hampshire “early and often” but has visited the state only three times in two months. He trails his top rivals in polls and organization. Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, has a network of grass-roots support but lacks money. Paul could be a force; he opposes the Iraq war, and his libertarian bent resonates here. He’s running TV and radio ads and just raised $4.3 million in one day.

New Hampshire has held the first-in-the-nation primary since 1920, and Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who has sole discretion over setting the date, is fiercely defending that history this year. Jan. 8 has emerged as the most likely day, but Gardner refuses to rule out a mid-December primary.

Campaigns are anxiously awaiting his decision, which is expected soon, and also are trying to gauge the voting behavior of influential independent voters, dubbed “undeclareds” in New Hampshire.

Surveys show roughly 4 out of 10 of these voters say they plan to vote in the Democratic primary, and about the same number say they aren’t sure which ballot they will pick up on primary day. Only 19 percent are planning to vote in the Republican primary, according to a recent poll by Saint Anselm College’s Institute of Politics.

Also, many Republicans say they are undecided or willing to change their minds.

A stay-at-home mother of four boys in nearby Bedford, Shannon McGinley typifies the indecisiveness. One day this week, she zipped from a breakfast-time Thompson appearance to a midmorning Giuliani speech — but said she was leaning toward Huckabee.

“I’m still shopping,” said McGinley, 37. “You have to be both bright and a communicator. Sometimes that doesn’t always happen in politics.”

At the Bedford Village Inn as Thompson prepared to speak, Ray Powles of Goffstown called himself “still hovering” and said he was partial to Romney, Thompson and Giuliani.

“I’d like to see a candidate that addresses some of the issues, that’s going to help try to strengthen the country, shore it up and not set us back,” said the 37-year-old Republican who works at a cable company.

Waiting to hear from Giuliani in Manchester, Noel Rainville, a 65-year-old retiree from Bedford, said she’s taking her time deciding who to support after voting for Bush in the 2000 primary and ending up disappointed.

“I never did realize we would be in this situation,” she said of the Iraq war. This time, Rainville said, she is leaning toward Giuliani and McCain. “They have served well in the positions that they have been in. To me, they’re very honest. And I’m not sure the others are.”

Comments

  1. SEAL

    I don’t see anyone offering any solutions here. As I see it, the answer to all of our financial problems is to eliminate non-essential expenditures, figure out how much it is going to cost us to get out of debt, make some decisions about the future of programs such as SS and health care, and have everyone in the nation pay the same reasonable percent of their income until we are financially healthy again. Yeah, the rich would contribute more than the poor and middle class and that would be fair.

    The most obvious useless expenditure we have is maintaining all those military bases around the world. Also, there is so much money being wasted on overstaffed or idiotic government agencies we just don’t need.

    Dis-involving ourselves in the ideology of other nations and their politics would save a fortune. A small embassy with a staff of 4-12 people would be sufficient to maintain “friendly mind our own damn business” relations with any country. The CIA employee is not embassy staff.

    We absolutely must eliminate the trade deficit. It is simply stupid business. The give and take must be the same. That would, also, return a large amount of the jobs we have lost the past 20-30 years. That would improve our economy. That would provide more money to pay off the debt. NAFTA must be rescinded.

    There are two ways to go with SS. Fully commit to it forever and make the funds off limits for any other purpose with the understanding that the burden would be unfair for many years until our economy stabilized and the cost of living came down to something that makes sense. Social Security is adjusted according to the cost of living index. Otherwise, eliminate any new SS enrollees and figure out how much it will take from the income of all taxpayers to fulfill the current obligations until they all die. All those who have paid into SS must receive the promised benefits according to the amount they have contributed. The person who has only paid into it for 10 years would receive far less than a baby boomer, for example, but he/her would have many years to otherwise plan for his/her retirement.

    Establishing free universal “essential” health care would actually save the nation (our people) money. Proper life long health, dental, and eye maintenance (i.e. preventive medicine) dramatically reduces the seriousness (the expensive) and the number of long term major illnesses for senior citizens. The proof of that is comparing the lifelong wealthy to the life long poor. As with SS, a certain percent of income tax dollars would have to be paid by ALL individuals regardless of their income into the “untouchable” health care fund. You would find that the individual cost for universal health care (Medicare for all) would be less than what the average is now and there would be no exclusions. Medicare for all would dramatically bring down the cost of medicine by having only one insurer to negotiate the prices. A surgeon should make more money than a carpenter but not 100 times more. Both are skilled craftsmen and a master carpenter is no less educated than the heart surgeon.

    Pharmaceutical companies make too much profit and must be required to research for CURES rather than symptom alleviation and the creation of phantom medical conditions and treatments for such idiotic notions as “restless leg syndrome.” A universal Medicare agency would negotiate lower drug prices while fairly considering the company’s research costs.

    Money must be supported by something other than air and paper. Whether that should be a return to the gold standard I will leave to those who understand such things, I do not. But it only makes sense that money cannot be generated out of someone’s ass. Without backing it up with something of real value, whatever is printed does not create more money, only more paper, and it devalues all of the money proportionately. The most insane fact in our nation is that the dollar is not worth a dollar. Just the idea of that is ridiculous. How can any nation justify creating a condition where a dollar is not worth a dollar? Mind-boggling.

    Illegal immigration must be stopped. It siphons money from our country to Mexico and Cuba primarily. It eliminates jobs for legal Americans. It reduces our standard of living. It dissimilates our nationalism. Everything about it has a negative effect upon America. Legal immigration must be curtailed to something that makes sense for Americans. All immigrants must demonstrate the ability to support themselves and not be entitled to any “welfare” type benefits (including health care) until they become citizens or are paying into the system. Also, they should be allowed to immigrate only if they have some special skill or whatever of value to contribute to this nation. Political refugee is pure bullshit. If they got themselves in trouble in their country, that is not my problem. Who are we to make political judgments about other countries?

    Realistic pollution standards must be mandated. Expecting corporations to reduce pollutants voluntarily under incentive programs is to believe that Paris Hilton found God in jail and will become a Southern Baptist minister. The federal government must provide reasonable research money to qualified and proven individuals or companies to find alternative energy sources. We must drastically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and we must do it very soon. Otherwise, there is no future for the human race. Forcing the pollution and energy issue may not be good for the corporate bottom line but it will insure there is a corporation left to have a bottom line to worry about. America’s corporate health depends on a healthy economy which depends on a healthy happy working American.

    All wars must end and Iraq must be turned over to the United Nations peace keeping forces until they can survive on their own. We should admit we fuked up, apologize, prosecute our nations criminals for their war cimes, and offer to help any way we can.

    The foregoing is my thinking about “solutions” for the major issues we face for whatever it is worth. No, I’m not running for president.

  2. yarply

    Change takes time?

    They say the same thing when people start complaining that the dems have backed out of their campaign promises. Give them time they say. Change doesn’t occur over night. Man… I have been hearing that crap for the last 30 years, while the country gets worse and worse and I am sick of it. If I give it any more time I will be dead and the country will be making an even bigger sucking noise as it finally and totally goes down the toilet. All the while people will be saying give it time,, change takes time. Don’t follow him or believe his “crazy” sayings,, He is a radical. All the while sneering at them and saying, it only demonstrates how desperate they are for someone, ANYONE. They said that about MLK, Gandhi, and others. I bet some of the Colonist were saying the same thing when the founders and the people who followed their lead decided to throw off the shackles of tyranny which were chained to WE The People back in the 1700s.
    People also state; There are democrat candidates who advocate the same core values and beliefs that Ron Paul does.

    I totally disagree. There may be a few out there who,, when the wind is blowing strongly one way may shift their comments to placate and calm the disquiet of the voters they wish to deceive. I would like someone to NAME these few that share his core values and then explain why if they share his same core values, they are so opposed to him (Ron Paul).

    I guess one of the reasons why some dislike Ron, is that he is from Texas or pro life or was a member of The John Birch Society,, which is described by wikipedia, as a conservative American organization which was founded in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1958 to fight what it saw as growing threats to the Constitution of the United States, which promotes a conspiracist view of history and current reality, linking political and social events to the globalist agendas of secret cabals working behind the scenes. and has been greatly marginalized within the conservative movement since the 1960s.

    Has been greatly marginalized within the conservative movement since the 1960s.

    No wonder our country has been going down hill.
    Most of the conservatives abandoned their core values, and evidently the constitution way back then. I did not realize this, and I did not know what the John Birch Society was.
    Our government has been infiltrated and taken over.

    The John Birch Society is anti-totalitarian, particularly anti-Socialist, anti-Communist, and anti-Fascist. It strenuously defends what it sees as the original intention of the U.S. Constitution.

    Hey!!! If that is what they believe,,, then more power to them, because in my view they have been proven right….
    More time they say,, and change must be effected with programs that will not cause another form of damage they say.

    Need programs?? Bull!! We have to many as it is.
    Programs are just more government spending and control while they slip another noose around our necks…

    Give it time?
    No! no more time.. Its time for change.. NOW!!!

  3. almandine

    By the way, CB…

    From one Boomer to another, I consider the dollar having lost half of its purchasing power during the Bush 43 years as already having gotten screwed. Yeah, who is it that would make a good President?

  4. Sandra Price

    CB. Are you telling me you expect to live off of Social Security? I’m going to be 75 in 6 months and didn’t expect to have my SS support me by any matter of means. I’ve had an interest in economics for a number of years and lived frugally and on the verge of poverty so that I could tend to my cost of education for the kids and my own retirement. This does not make me greedy or selfish because I will never take of penny of money I did not earn.

    Throwing insults at me here will do nothing for the problem of Social Security going broke. It might make you feel better but it will not solve your problem. I remember reading about SS and exactly what FDR was intending to do. It was a safety net to keep people in poverty off the streets. I also took a look at the quality of our federal government and realized they would take the money and use to on programs that would get them reelected. LBJ was the poster boy for a redistribution of wealth. He promised everybody everything they would never need and nobody saw an improvement in anything. I believe the American people can use their money for their own retirement but putting this in the open pot for polticians to use is not a good idea.

    Who do you like for President in 2008?

  5. CB

    All I’m saying is there is going to be hell to pay if the Boomers are screwed. We are not going to go quietly into the night.

  6. almandine

    No I’m not. Your future, mine, and that of my children is at stake… and all that most politicians and those who support them seem to want to do is maintain the status quo, which is killing us… bankrupting us, and demoralizing us. Nothing flip about it.

  7. CB

    Almandine,

    Look you can be as flip as you want about Social Security, but the facts are that millions of us are going to be needing it.

    I have no children. Are you happy now?

  8. almandine

    CB –

    It won’t take until 2040 for your money to become more worthless than it is now… sometime next week seems about right. I guess my question to you is, “why is it better to elect politicians that would steal your future surreptitiously through inflation, corruption, and the lies that must be told to hide that, than to elect someone that states our problems clearly and attempts to solve them through whatever radical means are required?”

    Again, RP has no intention to – nor would Congress buy in to – any elimination of SS without something serious to take its place.

    Concerning the finality of the problem tied to your death, I guess you have no children to worry about.

    Cheers,

  9. almandine

    Aw, give it a rest. Social Security will be around until it goes broke… which is what RP says… and also which ain’t too long from now, if it mirrors the rest of our fiscal health. I’m more inclined to worry about the actual value of those SS dollars, as should be you. Bought milk, eggs, gas, etc, lately? Now those prices are cruel and out of touch !!! And who’s to blame? Those good ole Dems and Reps who’ve been watching your back against the world all this time. If you haven’t noticed… we’ve been sold out.

  10. CB

    Sandra Price,

    I do not consider you old fashioned at all. I see you as cruel, greedy and buying into the me, me, me view of the world. Go back and read what our Founding Fathers said about providing for the Common Good.

    How many ways do I have to say it: We Baby Boomers have worked our whole adult lives. Everyone has known since 1946 that we are here.
    What the hell do you expect us to do now that it is our turn after paying into the system all these decades?

    Your ilk scares the hell out of me.

  11. CB

    Kucinich does not want to abolish Social Security though.

    For those of you who don’t get it, many of us Baby Boomers are too old for us to not have our Social Security benefits. If you want to make the country worse off, just see what happens when many of us are out on the streets.

  12. Sandra Price

    Yes, CB, many people feel my views are old fashioned but I have lived under freedoms in America for many years and saw them gradually watered down under LBJ that made our government lean to the left of socialism. You apparently need the government to give you the safety net and set your moral values for you.

    Many of us do not. We like the freedoms that we talk about and wish them back. Your rude words remind me of many others who are considered Social conservatives and will reach out to men like Pat Robertson to tell them what to do. You have my sympathy that you will always need a big daddy to lead you.

    Might be a good time to split America up into two Constitutions. Let Robertson write his own and leave the old document to the rest of us.