For months, conventional wisdom had it that the New Hampshire presidential primary was a lock for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. But now it looks like there’s an opening for a more conservative candidate in the Jan. 10 contest. And Republicans in the state want former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to make a bigger effort there, Politico
Gingrich needs to hone his economic message and spend more time in the state, New Hampshire Republicans say. “He seems to be squandering a unique opportunity that was handed to him by the voters,” Rich Killion, a former Tim Pawlenty adviser who worked for Romney’s 2008 campaign, told Politico. “He had to follow up with making the case directly to the voters, day in, day out, making their concerns his concerns.”
New Hampshire has the reputation as a moderate state, but it can be quite friendly to Republicans. The GOP earned massive majorities in the state House and Senate in last year’s elections. And voters in the Granite State’s Republican primary have no problem voting for mavericks, giving victories to Pat Buchanan in 1996 and John McCain in 2000 and again in 2008.
Gingrich gained a huge coup in the state by scoring the endorsement of New Hampshire’s influential Union Leader newspaper just after Thanksgiving. That helped give Gingrich a big boost, not only in New Hampshire but nationally, conferring legitimacy on his candidacy.
But Gingrich waited more than two weeks after that to visit the state. After a rousing Dec. 12 rally in Windham, he’s only been there once, though in his defense Gingrich faces a heated battle in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.
The Union Leader continues to aggressively tout Gingrich. But Republican leaders in the state tell Politico that the newspaper can’t win the primary for Gingrich by itself.
“If I’m in that position [of getting the Union Leader endorsement], if I’m advising a campaign, that next day I’m in the state for three days, and I’m walking around with the Union Leader next to my head, kind of like that Harry Truman picture,” Derry town GOP Chairman Jim Foley told Politico.
“There are people that are working very, very hard for this. Nobody works harder than Gov. Romney. Nobody works harder than Sen. Santorum. That’s what needs to be done and that’s what’s not happening.”
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