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Mitt Romney's New Hampshire Problem

4 years ago
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In his book "Hardball," Chris Matthews recounts how an obscure lame-duck Southern governor built a national organization that took him all the way to the White House in 1976.

"His strategy was simple," writes Matthews. "Every Democrat who lost a primary election [in 1974] received a personal letter from the obscure Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia."

Carter reasoned that political losers would be especially grateful to someone who reached out to them during a difficult time. What is more, he realized that even those who lost a campaign would have built an impressive political network in their state and district (that Carter could then tap into).

It obviously worked. He came out of nowhere to capture the Democratic nomination and then the presidency.

But just as those who lose a political campaign can be wooed, they can also be scorned. And that appears to be exactly what happened in New Hampshire when Mitt Romney declined to endorse 2010 Senate contender Ovide Lamontagne.

Here is the back story, as explained by Hotline's Reid Wilson:

Lamontagne, a lawyer by profession and the 1996 gubernatorial nominee, backed Romney during the 2008 primary. Two prominent Romney backers, Jim Merrill and Charlie Spies, were top Lamontagne aides, Merrill as campaign manager and Spies as a senior advisor.

In the final weeks of the primary campaign, Lamontagne was surging, making up ground on the better-known [Kelly] Ayotte and coalescing conservatives behind him. A kind word from Romney, who is popular among New Hampshire Republicans -- to say nothing of a full-throated endorsement -- would have done wonders for Lamontagne's campaign. As it turned out, Ayotte won by 1,659 votes, or 1.2 percent.

Now, of course, the chickens are coming home to roost. It is Romney who needs support in the Granite State. And when you consider the number of candidates who will be courting the Republican electorate, it's easy to see how someone who narrowly lost a U.S. Senate primary might be able to make or break a candidate's chances of winning the primary.

In fairness to Romney, choosing to stay out of a contested primary in New Hampshire made a certain amount of strategic sense. But it doesn't negate the fact that it appears Lamontagne -- or at least, some Lamontagne supporters -- still feel betrayed.

The latest example comes from Harold Turner, who was Lamontage's finance chairman during the 2010 race.

On his blog today, Turner writes,

Former Governor Romney missed an opportunity to seal the deal with Ovide's support when he failed to endorse Ovide and help fundraising in the 2010 US Senate primary race, which as we all know was decided on the day after the primary by about 1% of the vote between Ovide and now US Senator Kelly Ayotte. That move, or lack there of, didn't sit well with many Ovide supporters for obvious reasons.

Clearly, as politics go, it was the "safe" move at the time. However, in business and in life, the safe move doesn't always win the risk-no reward. Most of us can look back in our lives and see the decisions we could have made, but didn't, and the roads we would have then followed........ good or bad. Only time will tell for Mitt Romney. The next move is Ovide's.

A friend of mine once said, "Your friends will work all day to help you get elected, but your enemies will stay up all night to make sure you don't."

I don't have to tell you how important New Hampshire is in determining the GOP nominee for 2012, and it sounds like there will be some people in the Granite State who might just be staying up all night to make sure Romney doesn't win the primary.

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Romney is an extremely experienced and successful business leader, besides being a devoted American and wonderful family man. He has an enormous amount of Executive experience. This Country could not possibly choose a finer President than Romney, in my humble opinion.

February 21 2011 at 4:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ummmmm so you know that Romney is way ahead in NH right? Though its early, it doesn't look like he has much of a problem getting support...

February 17 2011 at 6:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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