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August 28. 2012 9:46PM

Ayotte speech resonates in Granite State

Guests listen to remarks by Sen. Kelly Ayotte at a watching party at A.J. Letizio Sales and Marketing in Windham to hear Ayotte and Hudson business owner Jack Gilchrist speak at the Republican National Convention (JULIE HANSON/Union Leader Correspondent)

About 60 people attended a watching party at A.J. Letizio Sales and Marketing in Windham to hear Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Hudson business owner Jack Gilchrist speak at the Republican National Convention (JULIE HANSON/Union Leader Correspondent)
WINDHAM — Sen. Kelly Ayotte's remarks before the Republican National Convention resounded loudly with small business owners in the Granite State.

Ayotte spoke of the hard work and sacrifice involved with starting and running a small business.

“She makes me proud to be from New Hampshire,” said Annette Hyde.

Hyde's husband runs a small dental office in Salem. She became involved with the Romney campaign after witnessing first-hand the effects the economy was having on small business and the middle class. Hyde said like many, she worries about what opportunities will be available to her college-age children.

Hyde shares Ayotte's concerns about a President who “has never even run a lemonade stand,” as the senator said in her speech in Tampa Tuesday night.

“Her message is right on target,” Hyde said.

Local businessman Ralph Valentine agrees.

“I own and run a small business and I built it,” Valentine said, referring to President Barack Obama's recent, “You didn't build this” remark.

Hyde and Valentine were among about 60 people gathered at A.J. Letizio Sales and Marketing to watch Ayotte and Hudson business owner Jack Gilchrist deliver their “we built it” message at the convention.

The message is a personal one for Al Letizio Jr., who has run A.J. Letizio Sales and Marketing with his wife for the past 24 years. Generations of Letizios have been in the wholesale food industry, he said.

“This is a century-long tradition in my family,” Letizio said.

Like many other small business owners, Letizio took exception to President Barack Obama's comment, “if you have a business, you didn't build that — someone else did.”

“We have a business and yes, I do believe we built that business,” Letizio said.

He added: “The President either does not understand or is not in support of people in business.”

He said he found himself in a position to make a difference when it was announced that President Obama was coming to Windham earlier this month. He proudly displayed a sign announcing, “We did build this,” about 20 feet from the passing presidential motorcade.

His action resonated with business owners, Letizio said.

“I have received thousands of messages since I held up that sign,” Letizio said.

Most were from people across the country telling Letizio he speaks for them. The experience has been uplifting, he said.

“It's been an eye-opening experience,” Letizio said.

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Julie Hanson may be reached at

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