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Primary Status: Rick Perry will spend NH primary night in ..... South Carolina

Senior Political Reporter

November 10. 2011 9:19AM

FRIDAY, JAN. 5, UPDATE: PALMETTO PERRY. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is really giving New Hampshire a big bypass.

Not only won't he campaign in the state -- except for apperances in the two weekend debates -- his campaign says he intends to spend primary night in South Carolina, not New Hampshire.

Ironically, the latest polling from South Carolina has Perry in fifth place with the support of 5 percent of likely South Carolina GOP primary votes. That's about the same as he has been faring in New Hampshire. The South Carolina primary is Jan. 21.

Nevertheless, Perry did pick up two New Hampshire supporters today: Littleton Tea Party organizer Sylvia Smith and Nashua Republican City Committee Secretary Karen Thomas.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

THURSDAY, JAN. 5, UPDATE: LUTHER FOR SANTORUM. State Sen. Jim Luther, R-Hollis, endorsed Rick Santorum for President Thursday night at an event at Windham High School.

Santorum also picked up the backing of Shannon McGinley, a founding board member and current chairman of the conservative issues groups Cornerstone Policy Research and Cornerstone Action

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

THURSDAY, JAN. 5, UPDATE: SPLIT LIBERTY MOVEMENT? In an example of how Mitt Romney could benefit in Tuesday's primary by a continued split among New Hampshire conservatives, two key state Tea Party/liberty movement leaders today endorsed different candidates.

Jerry DeLemus of Rochester, chairman of the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC, today gave his personal endorsement to Rick Santorum.

DeLemus had been one of the few New Hampshire backers of Michele Bachmann, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday following a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses .

Jane Aitken of Bedford, co-founder of the New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition and a member of the board of the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayer, gave her personal endorsement to Ron Paul.

Several weeks ago, another leading Tea Party activist, Jack Kimball, backed Newt Gingrich. Kimball founded the GSPL PAC and was DeLemus's predecessor as chairman.

DeLemus said Santorum is 'right on the issues and will stand in contradiction to Mitt Romney's and Newt's position, and he's been great on traditional values and has a 'put-America-back-to-work' plan and is strong on foreign policy.'

He said his problem with Gingrich was Gingrich's support in the 1990s for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

'Those helped flood the manufacturing base out of the country and we're paying the price for that right now,' DeLemus said.

DeLemus said he concerned about having liberty movement activists coalesce around one candidate did not enter into his decision.

'My endorsement is based purely on who I feel would make the best President and who can actually defeat President Obama,' he said.

DeLemus' wife, state Rep. Susan DeLemus, also backed Santorum, saying, "His positive campaign, based on the values found in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, have set him apart from the field and have rocketed his campaign forward."

Aitken, in backing Paul, said, 'It is rare to find a candidate who understands the proper role of government, is not afraid to tell the truth, and who is truly dedicated to real change.

'We must defy the establishment's effort to dictate the outcome of our elections and unite behind someone who is truly 'for the people', instead of continually electing elitist Republicans who can only call themselves 'conservative,'' said Aitken.

Kimball, a former Herman Cain supporter, in backing Gingrich last month, called the former House speaker 'a staunch conservative' who he shared his pro-life and pro-Second Amendment views.

Kimball said Gingrich 'is the only person running who has really been involved in balancing the federal budget, eliminating a $400 billion deficit. He has done it and lived it and he knows how to get it done.'

The most recent Suffolk University/7News Poll today showed Romney with support of 43 percent of likely GOP primary voters, followed by Paul with 18 percent, Santorum at 8 percent, and Gingrich and Jon Huntsman at 7 percent each.

THURSDAY, JAN. 5, UPDATE: A POWERFUL AD. The liberal group will begin airing an anti-Mitt Romney ad on the cable networks CNN and MSNBC tomorrow. The ads will continue until the Tuesday primary.

The ad features a former steelworker who worked in a Kansas City mill that was shut down after the Romney-led Bain Capital took it over.

In the ad, the worker, Danny Box, an Army veteran, says he worked in the mill for 32 years, 'Then Mitt Romney and Bain Capital came in and took the place over -- and eventually shut it down. We lost our jobs. They made millions. Businesses, they're all gone. Jobs we'll never see again.

Box says, 'Mitt Romney wants to call himself a job creator? Mitt Romney doesn't care about jobs. He cares about money.'

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 4, UPDATE: McCAIN FOR MITT. Saying that they long ago buried their political hatchet from 2008, John McCain returned to New Hampshire today to endorse former rival Mitt Romney for President.

The 2008 GOP presidential nominee and two-time New Hampshire Primary victor was with Romney at Manchester Center High School this afternoon and will be with him in Peterborough this evening.

McCain will also travel with Romney tomorrow to South Carolina, a state McCain also won in the 2008 nomination battle. When Romney returns on Friday, he will bring South Carolina Gov. Niki Haley with him.

Also today, Primary Status has learned that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will join Romney for a "grassroots rally" on Sunday at 6 p.m. at Exeter High School.

McCain, at Central High School, said, 'It is with some nostalgia that I return to this place that I love so well.'

But, he said, 'I'm here to make sure that we make Mitt Romney the next President of the United States of America and New Hampshire is the state that will catapult him on to victory in a short period of time. That's why I'm here.'

Addressing President Barack Obama, McCain said, 'He can run but he can't hide' from what he said was a poor economic record.

In an interview after the Manchester event, McCain told Primary Status that after their battle for the nomination four years ago, 'we got together and spent time together and campaigned together and we developed a very strong relationship.'

He said he seriously considered Romney as a running mate.

McCain said Romney has 'the background, the qualifications and the knowledge to address the issues facing our economy.'

McCain would not predict the margin of Romney's win in New Hampshire 'because every one of these 'flavors of the month' who have popped up we thought would be the challenge to Romney and it turned out it hasn't been.'

But, McCain said, given Romney's 'very strong roots' in New Hampshire, 'it's less likely that there will be an upset here. I don't think you will see any serious erosion of his base, and after all, a win is a win. Eight votes is a win.

'Three weeks ago, we would never have expected that he would have won Iowa, so it's the old expectations game,' McCain said.

He said Romney's steadiness as others have risen and fallen 'is going to have some effect. I'm happy where he is. I think he can do well, but one thing both he and I have learned is you don't take a single vote for granted.'

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, JAN. 3, UPDATE: FINAL WEEK ENDORSEMENTS. As the final week leading to the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary begins, candidates are beginning to pick up last-minute endorsements.

Jon Huntsman's campaign made official the backing of long-time public official and businesswoman J. Bonnie Newman. Newman has quietly been with Huntsman since at least since November, when her name was listed on the delegate slate he filed with the Secretary of State's office.

Still, her endorsement is viewed as coup of sorts for Huntsman since she is a friend of former U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg and worked with former Gov. John H. Sununu in the Bush (41) White House. Gregg and Sununu are backing Mitt Romney.

Newman, however, said Huntsman is the 'best qualified' to be President. She cited his 'record of strong, intelligent and steady leadership, combined with proven critical thinking skills and sound judgment.'

Newman, of Portsmouth, also served in the Reagan administration and as interim president of the University of New Hampshire. She is currently the interim chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire.

She was named by Gov. John Lynch to be Gregg's successor when Gregg in 2009 was close to resigning from the Senate to become President Barack Obama's Secretary of Commerce.

Also today, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney continued to pick up the backing of state House Republicans.

Gingrich was endorsed by 12 state House members, including Greg Sorg of Easton, a former top supporter of Rick Perry, who has chosen not to engage in any retail campaigning in New Hampshire this week and is heading directly from Iowa to South Carolina. His campaign says he now has the backing of 20 state representatives.

Sorg said in a statement that Gingrich 'is the only Republican in the race who not only understands but can articulate in a moving, persuadable way what we are up against in Barack Obama and the authoritarian direction of his progressive ideology.'

Sorg said Gingrich 'has shown that he has traveled his personal Road to Damascus and is a different, more measured and mature person from the caricature painted by his opponents in their desperate attempts to deflect attention from their own very serious limitations.'

Other House members backing Gingrich are Donald Andolina, Representative Charles Brosseau, Sam Cataldo, J.C. Daugherty, Robert Elliott, Gregory Hill, Frank Kotowski, Kathleen Lauer-Rago, Joseph Pitre, Frank Sapareto and Ken Sheffert.

Romney has picked up the backing of 15 additional state House members, bringing his total to 73. He also has been backed by 11 of 19 GOP state senators, four of five executive councilors and eight of 10 county sheriffs.

Backing Romney this week were Reps. Mike McCarthy of Nashua, Jon Richardson of Allenstown, Robert Luther of Laconia, Bob Haefner of Hudson, David Lundgren of Londonderry, Patrick Abrami of Stratham, Glenn Ritter of Kensington, Karen Hutchinson of Londonderry, Bill Belvin of Amherst, David Palfrey of Franklin, Amy Perkins of Seabrook, Gail Barry of Manchester, Dennis Fields of Sanbornton, Herb Richardson of Lancaster, and Harry Merrow of Ossipee.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

THURSDAY, DEC. 22, UPDATES: RINKER'S RETURN. Former long-time public official Earl Rinker has come out of political retirement to make an endorsement in the Republican presidential primary.

'Jon Huntsman has the most consistent conservative record of any of the presidential candidate,' Rinker said today. 'With no history of waffling and being the only candidate with significant foreign policy experience, it was easy for me to decide that he is the best candidate and has the best chance of beating President Obama.'

Rinker was a Manchester alderman from 1982 to 1986. He served five consecutive terms on the Executive Council from 1987 to 1997 and was later the town manager in Derry and town administrator in Rye, where he now lives.

Rinker said he has not been politically active since endorsing John McCain in 2000.

'I have been out of politics for quite some time,' Rinker said, 'but given that this election is so important, I felt I had to say something about the Republican presidential candidates.'

He also took a modest shot at Mitt Romney.

Huntsman, the former Utah governor, 'has a proven conservative track record. Compare his record with that of Mitt Romney and you'll have no question in your mind as to who is more conservative and consistent,' Rinker said.

Also today, Romney's campaign announced an endorsement by state Sen. John Gallus of Berlin, another in a long list of establishment Republicans backing the former Massachusetts governor.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

THURSDAY, DEC. 15, UPDATE: "A GREAT AMERICAN." Primary Status has confirmed from sources that New Hampshire House speaker William O'Brien plans to endorse former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich for President next Wednesday in Iowa.

O'Brien, while not acknowledging the endorsement, in an interview today called Gingrich 'a great American' and 'a real, strong conservative' who can win the GOP presidential nomination and the White House.

We've learned that plans call for Iowa Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen to also endorse Gingrich at the same Iowa event and for the three to then fly back to New Hampshire for another announcement of the endorsements.

While saying only that he is 'certainly looking to endorse someone at some point,' O'Brien today spoke very highly of Gingrich.

'I don't hold to what National Review says,' said O'Brien. 'I don't think nominating speaker Gingrich would be handing the presidency back to Barack Obama.'

The National Review blasted Gingrich in an editorial today and asked its readers to exclude him from consideration as they weigh the candidates vying for the GOP nomination.

But O'Brien said, 'I think, instead, that this is a conservative country that is willing to put aside media demonization of Republican candidates and look at who they truly are.'

O'Brien said he will endorse a candidate 'whose philosophy resonates with mine and is a great leader.

'I want a candidate who has a clear understanding of conservative philosophy,' said O'Brien. 'I look for someone who has good instincts, someone who is intelligent and has great leadership and an ability to articulate the philosophy of our party and his own goals.

'Speaker Gingrich has all of that,' O'Brien said.

O'Brien said he also likes Rick Santorum, but added that the former Pennsylvania senator 'is just not getting traction. And one of the issues I've talked about is that I want my endorsement to be effective.'

O'Brien called Gingrich 'a good conservative who comes at issues from a conservative base. I understand that he comes across at times as having a lot of different ideas and speaking freely, but I look back at Churchill during the 1920 and 1930s.

'In many ways,' said O'Brien, 'Churchill could have been viewed the way Newt Gingrich was looked at during the time he was in office _ a little forceful, a little on the edge.'

O'Brien, in his first term as House speaker, stirred some controversy this year while leading a GOP-dominated House that passed a balanced budget that cut spending by nearly 18 percent and closed a $895 million budget gap without tax or fee hikes.

The House Republican leadership team is split on presidential choices. House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt is backing Mitt Romney and Deputy Speaker Pam Tucker is supporting Rick Perry.

Also Thursday, the Gingrich campaign added veteran New Hampshire conservative activist/organizer Harry Levine to its staff as a senior strategist.

Levine co-founded Victory NH, a network of state activist groups and for the past two years, headed strategic development at Renewing American Leadership, a non-profit group in which Gingrich served as honorary chairman.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, DEC. 13 UPDATE: PLEASE BE SEATED. For the second consecutive presidential cycle, the New Hampshire Democratic Party has received a waiver from the Democratic National Committee, allowing the state party to seat its full delegation at next summer's national convention in Charlotte, N.C.

The DNC could have sanctioned the state party by allowing it to seat only 18 of its 35 delegates under a national party rule that required the New Hampshire Primary to be held on Feb. 14, 2012.

When New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner was forced by other states moving up their primaries to set the New Hampshire Primary for Jan. 10 to comply with state law, the state Democratic Party fell out of compliance with the DNC rule.

But New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said Tuesday that the DNC's Rules Committee, meeting last weekend in Las Vegas, granted the state party a waiver, and, as a result, the entire 35-member delegation will be seated and allowed to cast votes nominating President Barack Obama as the party's nominee.

'The President and the DNC strongly support New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation status,' Buckley said. 'We were told that the President supported the waiver.'

The state Republican Party faces a similar sanction from the Republican National Committee, which has a rule requiring New Hampshire to hold its primary no earlier than February.

State RNC member Steve Duprey, who has long been closely involved in party issues related to primary scheduling, said the state party will ask the RNC for a waiver at a meeting in New Orleans on Jan. 11 to 14 in the hope the RNC will allow the full 23-member (and 12 alternates) delegation to be seated at the Republican National Convention.

In 2008, the state GOP was sanctioned for the same reason after the primary was held on Jan. 8.

Only 12 of the 23 New Hampshire Republican delegates were allowed to vote, while the other 'disallowed' delegates were granted access to the convention floor as 'honored guests,' but could not vote for their choices for nominee.

Duprey said he expects the same process to be followed at next summer's national GOP convention in Tampa.

Duprey explained that unlike the Democrats, the rules adopted at the 2008 Republican national convention for the 2012 process 'do not call for or allow a waiver, per se.

'So,' he said, 'even if RNC rules committee voted for a waiver, it would also likely have to be adopted as a rule by the 2012 convention rules committee at the start of the convention. Thus, people would go not knowing if they would be seated.'

Duprey also said, "A lot of this will also depend on the wishes of our nominee and how hard he or she is willing to stand up for the early states." Similar sanctions are faced by South Carolina and Florida Republicans.

The Democratic rules committee also granted waivers to the Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina Democratic parties

NHDP chair Buckley was 'pleased once again that the DNC has supported the New Hampshire Primary, especially in light of the fact that the Republicans sanctioned the New Hampshire Republican Party in 2008.

'I hope the Republicans would not penalize the New Hampshire delegation this time,' Buckley said. 'I think it would be best for New Hampshire if both delegations were fully seated at their respective conventions.'

The state Democratic Party has announced that it will hold two caucuses on Jan. 14 to select its delegates to the national convention. One caucus will be held in each congressional district.

Democrats interested in becoming a candidate for delegate can file until Jan. 6 by completing a form found on the party's web site,

The 1st Congressional District caucus will be held at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, while the 2nd Congressional District caucus will be held at the IBEW Hall in Concord. Both will be held at 10 a.m. on Jan. 14.

The Republicans chose their delegates differently. Each candidate submits a slate and they are later divided according to the percentage of primary votes received by the candidates.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

SUNDAY, DEC. 11, UPDATE: GATSAS BACKS ROMMNEY. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney secured one of the few remaining major political endorsements in the New Hampshire on Monday morning when he is joined by Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas in an appearance on the city's west side.

"I look at where somebody wants to take this country, and right now it's about jobs," Gatsas told the New Hampshire Sunday News, which first reported on the endorsement yesterday. "It's about building a better economy, and I feel Mitt Romney is the right person for the job."

The mayor endorsed the former Massachusetts governor at at Chez Vachon restaurant on Kelley Street, a long-time popular stop for presidential candidates.

Gatsas, who won his second term as Manchester's mayor in November after being elected five times to the state Senate and five times as a city alderman, was heavily courted by presidential hopefuls.

He appeared or spoke with virtually all major presidential candidates during the past several months.

Gatsas joined a crowded stable of establishment Granite State Republican officials _ current and former _ backing Romney. They include U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, former Gov. John H. Sununu, former Sen. Judd Gregg, U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass, nine state senators and 58 state House members, including House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt.

U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta and House speaker Bill O'Brien have not yet endorsed in the first-in-the-nation primary.

Gatsas told the Sunday News he based his decision on "what I see here as Mayor of the City of Manchester.

"I believe the candidate we bring forward must have the tools and the people he can call to get this economy moving," he said. "And I believe that Mitt Romney has those contacts that he can call , get ideas and get jobs moving in this country.

"The next President must be able to create jobs, and somebody who has been in the private sector for as long as Governor Romney does have the tools that will allow him to create jobs, and, first, beat President Obama," said Gatsas.

Gatsas said he backed John McCain in 2008 because, "At the time, I believed we needed somebody who was going to protect this country from what could be on the horizon. And now it's about creating jobs."

Romney, in a statement, called Gatsas "an outstanding mayor and a dedicated public servant. As a successful entrepreneur, Ted understands the challenges facing small business owners, and he has supported pro-growth policies that will help them create jobs. I am proud to have earned his support and I am honored that he has joined my campaign to cut taxes, jump start our economy and restore fiscal sanity in Washington."

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

FRIDAY, DEC. 9, UPDATE: MITT AND NEWT. After what's expected to be a fiery Saturday night debate in Iowa, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich will both be in New Hampshire on Monday for the first time since the GOP presidential nomination race has become heated between their two camps.

Gingrich, in his first visit to the state since before Thanksgiving, will hold a town hall at Insight Technology in Londonderry at 9:20 a.m., followed by a stop at the Hollis Pharmacy on Ash Street at 10:45 p.m.

At 4 p.m., Gingrich and fellow candidate Jon Huntsman will hold a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate at Saint Anselm College. The event has been moved from the New Hampshire Institute of Politics to the Dana Center to accommodate a large crowd.

At 7 p.m., Gingrich will appear at Windham High School for an event planned by the Southern New Hampshire 9.12 Project.

Romney will be on Manchester's west side at the Chez Vachon restaurant at 8 a.m. on Monday.

He will head to West Ossipee for a 12:30 p.m. stop at the Madison Lumber Mill.

Romney was most recently in the state last weekend.

Also today, the Gingrich campaign confirmed that it has added activists Sam Pimm to will direct field operations and David Hurst to head political research.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

THURSDAY, DEC. 8, UPDATE: JACK BACKS NEWT. Jack Kimball, an influential state Tea Party/liberty movement leader and former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman, has made it official that he's endorsing Newt Gingrich for President.

The big endorsement for Gingrich was first reported earlier today by's Primary Status. Kimball, a former Herman Cain supporter, told us he views Gingrich as a true fiscal and social conservative and the most qualified candidate remaining in the GOP presidential race.

Meanwhile, Kimball's successor as chairman of the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC announced his support for Michele Bachmann.

Jerry DeLemus of Rochester wrote in an e-mail that 'as the head of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress, she most closely reflects my concerns and views regarding what needs to happen in America to save America.'

Also on Thursday correspondent Kimberly Houghton learned that former Executive Council 'dean' and former Nashua Mayor Bernie Streeter is also endorsing Gingrich, shifting his support from Mitt Romney (see item below).

Kimball said he has decided to have no formal role in the Gingrich campaign so that he can 'speak freely in my support' of Gingrich.

'I want Jack to be Jack,' he said.

Kimball had been the Seacoast coordinator for Cain's campaign and was his most prominent New Hampshire backer.

After Cain dropped out last Saturday, Kimball initially planned to wait to endorse another candidate until Cain did.

But he said that during a 'nice long talk with Herman this morning, Herman made it quite clear that he is not ready to endorse, yet, and that he wasn't decided who he is going to endorse yet because he needs to talk to the candidates one-on-one. '

Kimball said he would have 'loved a 'Cain-Gingrich' ticket,' but also feels that 'its' not a big step for me' to believe Gingrich also would make a strong President.

'He's a staunch conservative,' said Kimball. 'I'm pro-life, he's pro-life. I'm very staunch pro-Second Amendment, as he is. He's a strong fiscal conservative and he's very strong on defense and as a prior military guy, that's important to me.'

Kimball said Gingrich 'is the only person running who has really been involved in balancing the federal budget, eliminating a $400 billion deficit. He has done it and lived it and he knows how to get it done.'

Kimball cited Gingrich's key role as House speaker in reforming the welfare system, and said, 'I firmly believe he'll do it again.

'He knows how to create an environment where the private sector can flourish,' said Kimball. He cited Gingrich's proposals to eliminate the capital gains tax, cut the corporate income tax to 12.5 percent and allow 100 percent expensing of new equipment, 'which for a businessman like me is huge.'

Kimball also cited Gingrich's support for cutting regulations and repealing the Obama health care program and the Dodd-Frank law.

'I want the free market back in earnest,' said Kimball. 'I want to see the EPA go away and replaced with a solutions agency that would be more business-friendly.'

He cited Gingrich's support for a 15 percent flat tax, making the Bush tax cuts permanent and ending the so-called 'death tax.'

'He's really an expert on foreign policy,' Kimball said of the former House speaker. 'I think he's a genius when it comes to that. And I think he is the best person to beat Barack Obama. I'm salivating to see the debate between those two guys.'

A Dover businessman, Kimball is the founder and former chairman of the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC, one of the leading liberty movement/Tea Party groups in the state.

After running unsuccessfully for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2010, Kimball was elected chairman of the state GOP in January, succeeding Mitt Romney supporter former Gov. John H. Sununu, . In that party ace, Kimball defeated Juliana Bergeron, who had Sununu's support.

During some internal strife at the party, establishment GOP leaders, including members of the congressional delegation, moved to oust Kimball. Instead, he resigned in September.

DeLemus, in backing Bachmann, wrote, 'It is time we the voters choose the candidate we really want to win and stop falling prey to the scare tactic of voting who can win.

'No candidate will win if the voters don't vote for them. Our vote is sacred and has been purchased with the blood of America's finest and I will not betray that gift and vote for anyone other than the candidate I see as America's best hope,' DeLemus wrote.

THURSDAY, DEC. 8, UPDATE. STREETER: FROM MITT TO NEWT. Streeter, meanwhile, told that he decided to back Romney more than a year ago, but said that after he told the Romney camp of his decision, 'They sent me a book and that was the last I heard from them.'

Gingrich keynoted the Nashua Wild Irish Breakfast on St. Patrick's Day, which Streeter emceed.

He said he was impressed with Gingrich from that point forward and has now decided to make his endorsement official.

'He wasn't political, he spoke with no notes and with Newt, there is no flip-flopping,' Streeter told correspondent Houghton. 'With Newt, what you see is what you get.'

He called Gingrich a 'true conservative' and the most intelligent candidate in the race.

'None of us are perfect, but I believe that his campaign is peaking at the right time. There seems to be a surge of support for him right now in New Hampshire,' said Streeter, adding Gingrich has the ability to beat President Barack Obama in the general election.

He called on Romney supporters to reassess their choice.

Streeter also called Sununu an 'attack dog' for Romney, and said that his attacks are hurting the Republican Party.

'John is talking out of both sides of his mouth,' said Streeter. 'He talks about party unity on one side and attacking one of the leading contenders on the other side. You don't strive for unity by attacking someone the way he has been attacking Newt. That bordered on vicious.'

Streeter was referring to Sununu's comments about Gingrich in today's Granite Status political column, which can be found elsewhere today on and in the New Hampshire Union Leader print editions.

Streeter is a long-time Republican, but in the 2010 general election stirred some controversy by joining a group of "Republicans for Lynch" who supported the reelection of Democratic Gov. John Lynch over GOP nominee John Stephen.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 7, UPDATE: ROMNEY TOWN HALL, NEW TV AD. As he steps up his campaign in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney has a new television ad ready to air on Friday.

Entitled 'Leader,' the 30-second spot shows Romney speaking at the Nov. 9 CNBC debate as photos of him with his wife, Ann, and children are shown.

Romney says, 'I think people understand that I'm a man of steadiness and constancy. I don't think you're going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do.

'I've been married to the same woman for 25 - excuse me, I'll get in trouble - for 42 years. I've been in the same church my entire life. I worked at one company, Bain, for 25 years. And I left that to go off and help save the Olympic Games.

If I'm President of the United States, I will be true to my family, to my faith, and to our country, and I will never apologize for the United States of America.'

As the grassroots ground game picks up, mailers are about to go out that will be tailored to specific regions of the state. All 'zones' will feature U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, while each zone will feature a local officeholder who has endorsed Romney, such as state Sen. Jeb Bradley in his district, Sens. David Boutin, Chuck Morse and Tom Eaton in theirs, several county sheriffs, Cheshire County Attorney Peter Heed, and, executive councilors Ray Wieczorek, Ray Burton, Dan St. Hilaire and Chris Sununu.

And Romney has agreed to be the final candidate to appear in Jennifer Horn's 'We the People' presidential town hall series. He's scheduled to appear on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 4 p.m. at the Hudson VFW. Horn's group has also hosted Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Rick Perry.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, DEC. 6, UPDATE: THANKS BUT NO THANKS. Now that the venue has been moved, the Southern New Hampshire 9.12 Project will not cosponsor a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate between Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman next week, one of the group's top organizers said today, citing a 'lack of respect' by the Huntsman camp.

Ken Eyring of Windham, who organized the debate at Windham High School with state Rep. David Bates, also of Windham, said both campaigns originally agreed to have their candidates debate at the high school on Monday, Dec. 12.

Eyring said that while Gingrich's campaign was ready to hold the event at the high school, Huntsman's campaign backed out. The two campaigns then worked out their own agreement with the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College to have the debate at the institute.

On Monday night, both campaigns said in a joint statement the Southern New Hampshire 9.12 Project and the Saint Anselm College Republicans have been invited to cosponsor the event.

Eyring and Bates responded in a press release that Huntsman 'snubbed' Windham by refusing to debate at the high school.

Eyring said in the statement that the Huntsman camp showed a 'lack of respect toward all of the people in our community that have worked so hard to prepare for this event.'

Eyring said in an interview today, 'We are not going to be a cosponsor. We cannot in good conscience be a cosponsor.'

He said Huntsman's camp 'had made a commitment' to debate at Windham, 'and they're not following through on it.'

Eyring said his group is also disappointed in the Gingrich campaign 'because the Gingrich campaign was in the position of power. He's the rising star and if he had said 'no' to moving it, it would have stayed here in the end.'

But Eyring said the Gingrich campaign at least 'fought for' having the debate in Windham and when that did not work out, told him it is committed to having the Gingrich 'come here at 7 p.m. that night.

Eyring told those who planned to come to the debate in an email that it will not be a town hall, but will "have a special format" that will be "enjoyable and educational."

Gingrich state campaign director Andrew Hemingway re-confirmed today that Gingrich will be at Windham High School on Monday night following the debate.

Eyring said Huntsman's campaign also offered to have Huntsman come to the school at some other time, but he said, the 9.12 group has not yet decided whether to take Huntsman up on it.

Huntsman's campaign released a brief statement today saying, 'We came to an agreement with the Gingrich campaign that would get maximum coverage for the debate. Both campaigns have asked the Southern NH 9.12 Project to sponsor the debate and we look forward to getting down to Windham for another event soon.'

Huntsman spokesman Michael Levoff declined to comment further.

Eyring released an email he wrote on Dec. 1 to a Huntsman staffer, Conyers Davis, thanking him for 'calling and accepting our invitation' for the debate 'at Windham High School,' and a reply the same day from Davis, saying, 'We are looking forward to the debate on Dec. 12th and will be sure to keep the Governor's schedule clear from 6 p.m. onwards.'

Eyring said that based on the 'written promise,' the principal of the school worked with police and fire officials to ready the school auditorium.

'Many people are scrambling to put on a quality event at Windham High School,' said Eyring.

But he said that on Monday, the Huntsman campaign backed out of the commitment to the Windham site and the two campaigns then worked on arranging the debate Saint Anselm.

Eyring said the new school has an auditorium that seats more than 600 'with an integrated state of the art video and sound system, connected to a full production studio linked to Comcast.'

He said the institute can accommodate 'a small fraction of the hundreds of people who have already reserved seats for the debate.'

Eyring said the entire series of events has left him 'dumbfounded.'

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

MONDAY, DEC. 5, UPDATE: HUNTSMAN BACKING OUT OF DEBATE? Two southern New Hampshire conservative activists said Monday that GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman appears to be backing out of a Lincoln-Douglas style debate with Newt Gingrich planned for next week.

There was no immediate response from Huntsman's campaign. We understand both campaigns were in discussions about the debate Monday evening.

Organizers David Bates and Ken Eyring of Windham issued a statement Monday saying that the Southern New Hampshire 9.12 Project 'received a communication from the Huntsman campaign indicating that they may not follow through with the debate as previously agreed to.' Huntsman's campaign announced the debate last Friday.

If Huntsman does not appear, Gingrich will appear alone at the Dec. 12 event at Windham High School in his first return to the state since picking up the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader,. according to the Gingrich campaign and the organizers.

Gingrich state campaign director Andrew Hemingway said that if Gingrich appears without Huntsman, it will most likely be a town hall-style format with questions from the audience.

Eyring and Bates said in their statement that both the Gingrich and Huntsman campaigns had 'made firm commitments to participate in the debate with the final details to be agreed upon' on Monday.

The release said that Bates, who is a state representative, spoke with Huntsman about the debate last week after Huntsman addressed the New Hampshire House.

'It is very disappointing to hear that Governor Huntsman is considering backing out of this debate after his campaign sent us written confirmation of his willingness to participate,' said Bates.

Eyring said, 'We have put a lot of time into planning this event and already have hundreds of request for reserved seating.'

The two said they hope Huntsman 'will clear up the mixed signals coming from his campaign and honor his agreement to come to Windham.'

They said Gingrich has 'reconfirmed his commitment' and will appear with or without Huntsman.

In other campaign developments Monday, Mitt Romney's campaign said the former Massachusetts governor has been endorsed by sheriffs Wayne Estes of Strafford County and Gerald Marcou of Coos County. Romney now has the backing of 7 of the 10 county sheriffs in the state.

They join sheriffs Mike Downing of Rockingham, Craig Wiggin of Belknap, Michael Prozzo of Sullivan, Scott Hilliard of Merrimack County and Douglas Dutile of Grafton County.

Sheriffs James Hardy of Hillsborough County and Richard Foote of Cheshire County are uncommitted, while Sheriff Christopher Conley of Carroll County has backed Rick Santorum.

And Gingrich's campaign set up a 'New Hampshire Faithful with Newt Coalition' it said includes about 50 organizers.

Members include David Alves of , Concord and the New Life Fellowship, Robin Anderson of Dunbarton and Our Lady of the Cedars, Jeanne Hebert of Manchester and St. Catherine of Siena, Karen Hettrick of Salem and the St. Marie parish, Nicholas Lebish of Hooksett and the St. Catherine of Siena parish, Dan and Linda Morehouse, of Deering and the First Presbyterian Church of Antrim, Bill and Joan Nelson of Brookfield and Our Lady of the Rosary in Rochester, and Greg Salts of Manchester and the Manchester Christian Church.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 30, UPDATE: SANTORUM WEIGHS IN. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is the first GOP presidential candidate to comment on the New Hampshire House vote today that fell short of overriding the governor's veto of right-to-work legislation.

In a statement, Santorum said:

'Speaker (William) O'Brien and his team in Concord should be commended for standing up to the union bosses and their Democrat cohorts who are hijacking our economy. The Obama administration has pushed a radical organized labor agenda through the NLRB.

'This blatant federal government power-grab is forcing more and more states to take action because the federal government has trampled states' rights and the rights of individual companies - dictating where they can open new facilities and how they can operate based on the whim of a DC interest group. This is unacceptable. Job creation is about the American people, not the political agenda of one of President Obama's political supporters.

'As President, I will put the American worker and American economic growth first and stand by fighters like Speaker O'Brien. If elected, I will proudly sign a National Right-to-Work law.'

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, NOV. 29, UPDATE: BUCKLEY AGREES WITH McQUAID. State Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley is using comments by New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher Joseph McQuaid earlier this week to try to raise money for his party.

Primary Status has learned that Buckley will send an email to party faithful on Wednesday morning saying, 'This week I had not one, but two earth-shaking experiences _ I heard the truth on Fox News, and its carrier was New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid!'

He noted that during an interview on the network, McQuaid said that Mitt Romney 'represents the 1 percent.'

Writes Buckley: ' I almost fell out of my chair when I heard those words" because he agrees with them.

Buckley went on to criticize Romney and all GOP presidential candidates, saying they 'will not only represent the richest 1 percent of Americans, they will actively work against the other 99 percent' on issues such as Medicare, Social Security and taxes."

He said the party needs financial support to continue to follow the Republican presidential candidates throughout the state and fund 'resources and research' to 'hold them accountable for all their outlandish remarks.'

Earlier Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee issued a web ad it said featured several Granite Staters. The people 'on the street' in the ad are critical of Romney and Romney's television ad that uses President Barack Obama's 2008 comment about not wanting to talk about the economy. Those Obama comments were actually Obama paraphrasing 2008 presidential nominee John McCain _ a source of widespread criticism directed at Romney.

DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse, on a conference call, called the ad 'deceptive and dishonest.'

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, NOV. 29, UPDATE: FROM PERRY TO ROMNEY. Second-term state Rep. John Hikel of Goffstown was among the first 27 New Hampshire House members announced as supporters of Rick Perry in September. But he's now in Mitt Romney's column,.

Hikel told Primary Status he has nothing negative to say about the Texas governor or any other GOP presidential candidate.

'They are all great people and great Americans and I would be proud to call any of the my President,' he said.

'But I find that the corporation of the United States is looking for a CEO who can manage our affairs nationally and internationally,' said Hikel, 'and I think Mitt Romney has the qualifications of business, finance and world affairs to be the proper President and CEO of this corporation that we call the United States.'

Hikel said he supported Romney in the 2008 campaign and decided to switch back to the former Massachusetts governor him from Perry 'after a lot of further consideration. I thought about this over and over because I wanted to make the right decision in my own heart.'

Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said, 'We appreciate Representative Hikel's support and are pleased that he has decided to join Governor Romney's campaign to create jobs and turn around the economy. Our campaign continues to sign up new supporters and build momentum in the final weeks before the primary.'

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, NOV. 29, UPDATE: NEWT ON THE MOVE? The latest poll of likely voters in the Jan. 10 Republican presidential primary shows a surge by former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich following his endorsement by the state's largest newspapers.

Rasmussen Reports said on Tuesday that its poll of 762 likely Republican primary voters, conducted on Monday (Nov. 28) showed Gingrich trailing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 10 percentage points. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percent.

Romney was supported by 34 percent of those polled, followed by Gingrich with 24 percent. Gingrich received the editorial endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News on Sunday.

Ron Paul was in third place with 14 percent, followed by Jon Huntsman, who has broken through to double-digits with 11 percent.

None of the other candidates, including Herman Cain, reached double digits.

The poll indicates that, for the moment, at least, Gingrich appears to have risen to become the leading contender for being the conservative alternative to Romney. Polls of New Hampshire voters, however, are notoriously poor predictors of the election outcomes, especially in the presidential primary.

Rasmussen's poll in late October had Romney with 41 percent, Cain with 17 percent, Paul with 11 percent, Gingrich with 8 percent and Huntsman with 7 percent.

A poll released last week, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center for WMUR television, had Romney with 42 percent, Gingrich with 15 percent, Paul with 12 percent, Huntsman with 8 percent, Cain and Rick Perry with 4 percent each, Michele Bachman with 2 percent and Rick Santorum with 1 percent.

But that poll also showed that 59 percent of those surveyed said they had not yet made a final decision on who they will vote for in the primary.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

MONDAY, NOV. 28, UPDATE: EIGHT FOR NEWT. Following his Sunday endorsement by the New Hampshire Union Leader, GOP presidential candidate and former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich on Monday picked up the backing of eight New Hampshire House members.

Backing Gingrich were Reps. Laurie Pettengill of Glen, who backed Mitt Romney in 2008, as well as Glen Hill of Northfield, Don McClarren of Nashua, Joe Pitre of Farmington, Kathy Lauer-Rago of Franklin, Joe Osgood of Claremont, Brandon Giuda of Chichester and Ken Sheffert of Hampton.

Pettengill said that although she backed Romney in 2008, 'I have chosen to be with Newt this time because I feel he is the most conservative candidate today. He not only has the political know-how, but he will immediately put in to place actions that will renew America'.

Also on Monday, Romney's campaign announced he was endorsed by New Hampshire Sheriffs Mike Downing of Rockingham County, Craig Wiggin of Belknap County and Michael Prozzo of Sullivan County. They join Sheriffs Scott Hilliard of Merrimack County and Douglas Dutile of Grafton County.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

THURSDAY, NOV. 17, UPDATE: CAIN NO-SHOW. Herman Cain was a no-show for an interview at the New Hampshire Union Leader this morning.

The interview was scheduled last week and was supposed to last between an hour and about 75 minutes.

Initially, the Cain campaign agreed to the full hour or more but then told the newspaper it did not want C-SPAN to tape the interview.

The news network had videotaped for broadcast and its website the newspaper's recent interviews with three other major presidential candidates.

After confusion arose over whether the interview had been cancelled, Cain's campaign apparently scheduled another event at roughly the same time and said Cain could appear at the newspaper for only 20 minutes.

Publisher Joseph McQuaid rejected the suggestion, telling the campaign that if Cain could not appear for the full 60 minutes, then there would be no interview.

McQuaid said today that 20 minutes was not enough time for a 'formal, sit-down interview' during which he and other newspaper staff 'size up' the candidates.

About 45 minutes after Cain's 10 a.m. appointment, Union Leader Senior Political Reporter John DiStaso received a brief telephone message from Cain New Hampshire spokesman Charlie Spano.

'I hope we can connect in the future,' Spano said. Spano did not return our additional call seeking further comment.

Cain and his staff later contended the newspaper cancelled the interview.

McQuaid responded, 'We had an hour-long interview scheduled. They, in effect, cancelled that, saying it could only be 20.

'It's kind of funny, I think, that with candidates complaining that the media doesn't give them enough time for depth, that Cain's camp blows off an in-depth interview,' he said.

Also, Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon told Politico that the campaign will not allow any future newspaper editorial board meetings to be videotaped.

'Videos are typically used for television and it's a newspaper. We decided we didn't want to do the video,' Gordon said.

Union Leader correspondent Nancy Bean Foster covered Cain's appearance at a rally in Nashua and then filed this report:

"J.D. Gordon, vice president of communications for Herman Cain, said he had been in contact with Joe McQuaid and the two had been negotiating the details of the interview. McQuaid, Gordon said, had asked for either 45 minutes or an hour, but Gordon said he told McQuaid that '20 minutes was enough to address the issues.

''We only give other newspapers 10 minutes,' said Gordon.

"Gordon said that he and McQuaid had agreed to discuss the issue again on Wednesday, but never had another opportunity to speak. On Thursday morning, Gordon said, a Cain campaign staffer was at the Union Leader around 9 a.m. and was told that the interview had been cancelled.

'Gordon said the next thing he knew he was reading about Cain not showing up for the Union Leader interview on Twitter.

''(Union Leader editorial page director) Drew (Cline) Twittered that we were a no show, but that's not accurate,' Gordon said. 'I think there was some miscommunication.'

'Gordon said the campaign would like to reschedule the interview and 'make it right.

''The Union Leader is important to us,' said Gordon. 'We hope we'll have an opportunity to reschedule when we return to New Hampshire.'"

Meanwhile, McQuaid said he was not concerned about Cain not showing up.

'It's politics and campaigns. I don't think he's going anywhere from here at this point, anyway,' he said.

Here's our earlier report on the Cain "interview-that-wasn't" from today's Granite Status column:

THE CAIN INTERVIEW. A Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel video of Cain struggling to answer a question about Obama's and his own policies on Libya went viral early Tuesday.

A few hours later, Cain's campaign told the New Hampshire Union Leader it wanted no videotaping of his interview, scheduled for this morning, with New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher Joseph McQuaid, editorial page director Andrew Cline and this reporter.

C-SPAN videotaped and broadcast on its network and website our recent interviews with Romney, Perry and Santorum.

Was the Cain 'no-video' demand related to the Milwaukee paper's video, which the Cain campaign suggested was presented 'out of context in some measure' (a charge the Journal-Sentinel's editor strongly denied)? Or was it just a coincidence?

We may never know.

His national communications director did not return our call yesterday seeking a simple explanation of why they didn't want C-SPAN in the room.

And as of late yesterday, it was very much up in the air whether the scheduled 60-minute interview was going to take place at all.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

TUESDAY, NOV. 15, UPDATE: 'UPROOT, OVERHAUL.' New Hampshire 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee John Stephen today praised Texas Gov. Rick Perry's 'Uproot and Overhaul Washington' plan, calling it 'true fundamental

change in the way our federal government operates so that our people are first and not special interests or the establishment crowd."

In a speech in Iowa, Perry called for, among other things, making Congress part-time and cutting congressional pay in half while repealing rules that prevent congress members from holding 'real jobs' in their home states.

Stephen, a member of Perry's New Hampshire steering committee, said that Perry 'has shown his desire for a smaller and more efficient federal government, and his passion for regulatory reform that helps our job creators, rather than crush

them with massive red tape and gridlock.'

Stephen said Perry 'has shown once again that there are no sacred cows when it comes to the people's business. A citizen Congress, the end to lifetime appointments for judges and transformational department and regulatory reform is just

what the American people need to restore confidence in our government and elected leaders.'

Perry would also make insider trading by members of Congress a crime. The practice was brought to light in a recent segment on the CBS news show '60 Minutes.' He would support cutting congressional pay in half if Congress fails to

propose a long-term balanced budget while freezing civilian hiring and salaries until the budget is balanced.

He would also cut the president's salary in half until the budget is balanced.

Perry would end lifetime appointments of federal judges and called for 18-year terms for Supreme Court justices, staggered every two years.

He would eliminate the commerce, education and energy departments and restructure the Department of Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency. He proposed privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Perry also called for legislation that would 'sunset' federal regulation unless Congress specifically votes to renew them.

'I do not believe Washington needs a new coat of paint, it needs a complete overhaul,' Perry said. 'We need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions.'

Perry is scheduled to return to New Hampshire on Wednesday, Nov. 16, with stops in Manchester and Nashua. See details in item below.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

MONDAY, NOV. 14, UPDATE: ADDING STAFF. Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign in New Hampshire has added a fifth paid staffer.

Primary Status has learned that Sarah Joseph, a businesswoman from Bristol, has joined Gingrich's staff as director of scheduling and logistics.

The campaign says Joseph managed a family business for the past three years and as a result 'knows first-hand the impact that governmental over-regulation is having on small businesses throughout the country.'

Joseph, sister-in-law of Gingrich New Hampshire campaign director Andrew Hemingway, said, 'Newt Gingrich is the only candidate that is addressing the real issues facing small businesses today. Not only that, but he is also confronting big

government which directly impacts small businesses all around the country'.

Also this week, Herman Cain will make his first visit to New Hampshire in several months on Thursday.

The only public event so far on Cain's schedule is a rally to be held at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua at 12 noon. The campaign shifted the event to the hotel from the Alpine Grove in Hollis, citing an "overwhelming response."

The campaign says country western and Gospel singer Buddy Jewell will also appear.

Also this week, Rick Perry will return to the state on Wednesday. He is scheduled to tour and hold a town hall meeting at Granite State Manufacturing in Manchester at 10:30 a.m. and a town hall meeting in Nashua at 2:15 p.m. at VFW Post


Jon Huntsman continues his New Hampshire-focused campaign on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Huntsman will hold a town hall at the Portsmouth Elks Lodge on Tuesday at 7 p.m., a town hall at the Gilbert H. Hood Middle School library in Derry on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and he will tour the Sturm, Ruger and Co. gun factory in Newport on

Thursday at 1 p.m.

Huntsman on Thursday at 9 a.m. will appear on New Hampshire Public Radio's 'The Exchange Program' with Laura Knoy at 9 a.m.

Mitt Romney is also expected in the state later this week.

(Tuesday, Nov. 15, Update: We've learned Romney is scheduled to be in the state on Friday, Nov. 18, for the Union Leader-Salvation Army Santa Fund Luncheon at the Radisson Hotel in Manshester at about 12 noon. He will then attend a

1:45 p.m. forum at the Devine Millimet law firm in downtown Manchester, sponsored by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the law firm.)

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 9, UPDATE: CHRISTIE'S CONFIDENCE. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie predicted tonight that none of the other GOP presidential candidates will ultimately have the staying power to seriously challenge his candidate,

Mitt Romney, for the nomination.

Christie visited the New Hampshire Union Leader today as he kicked off his first campaign trip for Romney since endorsing the former Massachusetts governor last month.

'I think there will be a group of folks who kind of continue to go up and down because of their own experience or lack thereof, but I don't think there will be any one person' to become the prime challenger to Romney, Christie said.

'My sense is that this will never get down to a one-on-one race. I think there will be a bunch of people who will do well enough to hang around but that Governor Romney will win consistently and the reason is he's the person who's best

prepared both for the race and the job,' Christie said.

Christie also said he can't imagine Romney or any presidential nominee asking him to be his or her running mate.

'I just don't think it's my personality,' he said, 'to be a number two to anybody and be standing behind them nodding my head. I don't think that's me.

'I can't imagine any presidential candidate looking at me and saying, 'He'd be perfect for this.'

'I won't say 'absolutely not' because I think it's rude and presumptuous to say for something that I haven't been offered if offered I wouldn't take it. But I just can't imagine it's going to happen,' Christie said.

Christie stopped by Romney's Manchester campaign headquarters before heading to a house party hosted by former state Republican Chairman John Stabile in Nashua. He was then slated to head to Romney's Boston headquarters to watch tonight's CNBC Michigan debate.

(Earlier Primary Status reports follow.)

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 9, UPDATE: ALDERMAN-ELECT FOR MITT. Joe Kelly Levasseur, who pulled off a major upset in the Manchester alderman-at-large race on Tuesday by defeating long-time incumbent Mike Lopez, is thanking Mitt

Romney for his support during the campaign.

Levasseur told us today he's endorsing Romney in the GOP presidential sweepstakes, as he did back in 2007-2008.

Levasseur said Romney 'has been there for Republicans in New Hampshire. He was there for me' in 2010, when Levasseur narrowly lost a state Senate bid to Democratic Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, 'and he was very supportive in this race.'

'I think he brings the best combination of government and private business experience,' Levasseur said. 'If you haven't run a state, you shouldn't try to run a country.'

Levasseur said Romney and the Romney campaign supported 'every single (Manchester) Republican financially. They also worked with us on the ground and his guys were in there to make phone calls for us.'

Levasseur said that if Romney becomes President, 'he will remember New Hampshire and Manchester fondly and that will be a great thing for us.'

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 9, UPDATE: PERRY TO RETURN. Texas Gov. Rick Perry will return to New Hampshire on Nov. 16, campaign sources tell the Primary Status.

While his schedule is being formulated, a business tour in Manchester and a town hall in Nashua are tentatively scheduled.


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