August 03. 2013 11:47PM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Many political heavy-hitters headed to NH

BIG POLITICAL NAMES are in New Hampshire today or headed this way. Among them, U.S. Rep. Pete King of New York. He's at a barbecue in Wakefield today, and if he talks there like he talked in an interview with the Granite Status the other day, fellow Republican and possible presidential contender Rand Paul may feel the heat.

King, too, may be testing possible presidential aspirations. He is on one side of a divide (see Charles Krauthammer's column on Page B3 for more) that pits internationalists vs. those like Kentucky Sen. Paul, whom King calls an "isolationist."

King said he is coming to the first-in-the-nation primary state to find out if there's an audience here for his views on national defense.

"Since the days of Eisenhower, we have been the party of national security and also of homeland security," said King, who wants to keep it that way.

"I get very concerned when I see people, Rand Paul for example, talk about the great concern they have about drones killing innocent Americans and hardly a word about the threat we face from al-Qaida."

A member of House Committees on Homeland Security and Intelligence, King said, "Those threats are real. I think we are either giving in to an isolationism or a political correctness coming from the left.''

Close to home, King said he believes the Boston Marathon bombing could have been prevented.

"The Boston Police Department does a great job, but the FBI didn't share information with them, and the FBI, when told about the older brother possibly being a radical, never talked to anybody in the mosques because of some guideline not allowing them to go into a religious institution."

King said Russia's granting of asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden is "disgraceful" and should be a "wake-up call that (Vladimir) Putin cannot be trusted and is still a relic of the Cold War."

He said he supports the NSA monitoring made public by Snowden, whom he considers a "traitor." The program is not abusive of Americans' privacy, he said.

King has been here before, campaigning for Bob Dole in 1996 and Rudy Giuliani prior to the 2008 primary.

"I don't mean this in a pandering way," said King, "but people in New Hampshire probably pay more attention earlier to these races than other people in the country because they know they are going to be invaded by so many over the next few years and they're used to it."

The Long Island congressman will be at a picnic hosted by Don Rowan, a retired firefighter originally from New York. The two met at first responder events in Washington.


SUMMER residents Mitt Romney, Scott Brown and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are also in Granite State mode. On Tuesday, Romney will host a fundraiser for the state Republican Party at the home of a Lake Winnipesaukee neighbor in Wolfeboro.

The party says general admission tickets are sold out and only a few sponsorship tickets remain. Nearly 150 are expected.

On Thursday, Democratic National Committeewoman Wasserman Schultz, also a lakeside dweller, will be at a reception at party headquarters in Concord.

Next Friday, former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who could end up running for Jeanne Shaheen's New Hampshire seat next year, will be at a fundraiser for state Rep. Joe Sweeney in Salem.

Brown plans another visit on Sept. 30 to speak at a Hampstead Republican Committee fundraiser at the Granite Rose. Since Brown has a summer home in Rye, it's not a tough drive.


WHEN IT COMES to private fundraisers, staying mum on who and how much is a bipartisan practice.

Last week, we asked Shaheen's camp who attended and how much was raised at her July 15 fundraiser.

That was the one she owned up to attending in New York City four days after missing a key meeting of the full U.S. Senate on the filibuster controversy.

The who and how much will be made public, but that will not happen until Friends of Jeanne Shaheen releases its campaign finance report after Sept. 30, the end of the third quarter.

In the meantime?

"It was a private event with Sen. Shaheen's supporters, and all contributions will be listed on our FEC report and fully available to the public," said a spokesman.

Last week in Washington, the NH GOP held a fundraiser organized by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and attended by Sens. Rand Paul, Rob Portsman and John Thune. Sen. Marco Rubio was expected, but was "detained in Florida," the party said.

Who else attended? How much was raised?

We asked party Chairman Jennifer Horn and received this non-response:

"We are grateful to Sen. Ayotte for hosting this event and helping us raise the resources we need to compete with the Democrats. The event exceeded our expectations, raised several thousand dollars for the party and was a tremendous success."


POLL ROUNDUP. A brief look at recent polling by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center for WMUR:

. Surveying 516 Granite Staters July 18-26, the idea of showing a government-issued ID in order to vote was favored by 65 percent, including 85 percent of self-identified Republicans, 76 percent of independents and 42 percent of Democrats. Just 26 percent said such an ID should not be required.

. Of incumbents and challengers: 58 percent approve of the job Gov. Maggie Hassan is doing; 18 percent disapprove and 24 percent neutral. That's similar to her two predecessors at similar points.

. Sen. Shaheen: favorable 53 percent (down from 59 percent in April); unfavorable 23 percent.

. Exactly half of those polled said Shaheen should be reelected; 34 percent said no.

. Potential challenger Jeb Bradley, the former U.S. Representative and current state Senate majority leader, favorable 29 percent, unfavorable 19 percent, while 46 percent did not know enough about him to say.

. Former state Sen. Jim Rubens, also exploring a Senate run, was unknown by 77 percent of those polled.

. Sen. Ayotte's approval rating is 41 percent (down from 50 percent in April); 32 percent have an unfavorable opinion of her.

. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter's favorable is 37 percent (up from 31 percent in April) while her unfavorable rating is 28 percent; 36 percent believe she should be reelected; 42 percent say no.

. Likely Republican challenger and former Rep. Frank Guinta has a 27 percent favorable and an unfavorable of 36 percent.

. Rep. Annie Kuster: favorable 27 percent, unfavorable 25 percent. Only 26 percent of those polled believe Kuster should be reelected, while 39 percent think someone else should get the job.

. Potential Kuster Republican challenger Bill O'Brien, the former New Hampshire House speaker, has a 22 percent favorable, a 25 percent unfavorable and a lot who don't know him.


John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @jdistaso.