On The Political Front is our weekly conversation with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers. This week, a look at the latest in the 2016 presidential race and the New Hampshire primary.
Hillary Clinton made it official yesterday – she’s running for president. There’s no shortage of coverage of that on our air – and everywhere else this morning. But I want to talk to you about what it all means for New Hampshire.
Well the safe answer is, or course, we’ll see. And based on what I’ve been told – which may or may not be true – the winner of the 2008 New Hampshire primary won’t be seen here for at least another week. The Clinton rollout, with its focus on “everyday Americans” – and Clinton herself doesn’t appear in the announcement video until its more than half way over – is intended to be slow and steady. Of the early voting states, New Hampshire is a place the former Secretary of State probably isn’t much worried about. New Hampshire’s very top Democrats -- Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Governor Maggie Hassan – are allies. And others in the establishment are quite comfortable with her.
The specter of Clinton on the 2016 ticket, and the presumed boost for all Democrats here, is one reason why most everyone in New Hampshire politics expect Gov. Hassan to challenge Sen. Kelly Ayotte in 2016. So the presumed stakes for a Hillary Clinton candidacy in New Hampshire is about more than the presidency. Whether it all ends up panning out may be another thing. And Clinton herself won’t even be giving her first big speech for another month. But in New Hampshire, it's worth remembering the Democratic nominee has carried the state five of the last six general elections.
But Hillary Clinton’s not the only candidate with a surname familiar to New Hampshire voters who’s recently made things official. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was in Milford last week.
Yes, and like Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul has the benefit -- and challenge -- of being a kind of legacy candidate. And, without doubt, Rand Paul will inherit some supporters that his father – former Texas congressman Ron Paul earned during his runs here – and remember Ron Paul finished second to Mitt
Romney here four years ago. But one thing that was clear in Milford is that Rand Paul is trying very hard to look beyond his dad’s base. Sure, there was lots of talk of liberty, and getting government to leave people alone. There were, also, however, numerous mentions of Ronald Reagan, from the people who introduced Paul and from the Rand Paul himself. Paul told reporters he sees New Hampshire has a must win.
Now, Paul, and just about every other Republican looking to run for president will here this weekend for an event in Nashua, the Republican Leadership Conference.
And most will be here before too. Tomorrow, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be at St. Anselm College. He’s going to deliver what’s being billed as a major speech on entitlement reform. Christie hasn’t been here all year. He’s been heading downhill in the polls for months and plenty of Republicans here – and nationally – seem to think that if he’s going climb back into the top tier of GOP candidates this trip may be crucial. History would suggest he’s still got a bit more time. But New Hampshire, on paper, is a state he’ll need to do well in. Former Florida Gov, Jeb Bush, who’s candidacy has made life harder for Christie, will be back a bit later in the week. It remains to be seen how much excitement Bush can generate among grassroots activists.
Those activists are expected to be out in force at the GOP event in Nashua.
Yes, the event is apparently sold out. It would take a very committed activist to sit though every speech, but it’s an option. And for the state party, this is a chance to make a little money.