Republican, Marine Lambert: 'Send the Colonel to Congress'
HUDSON -- With the theme "Send the Colonel to Congress," 35-year Marine and former state Sen. Gary Lambert of Nashua announced his candidacy for the 2nd District U.S. House seat Wednesday, promising to work "strengthen the middle class" and "start a serious discussion on tax reform."
At the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Hudson, Lambert, flanked by his wife, Lori, two daughters and mother -- and supported by a group of veterans, friends and fellow Republicans _ said voters "are counting on Republicans to keep the focus on jobs and strengthening the middle class, not divisive Washington politics."
Lambert, 53, is a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Colonel who served in Iraq. He intends to retire from the Reserve next spring.
At his announcement, he called the Democrat he hopes to unseat -- freshman Rep. Ann Kuster -- a lifelong lobbyist, charging that she is "part of the problem" that has caused gridlock on Capitol Hill.
The state Democratic Party quickly charged that during his 2010-2012 single term in the state Senate, Lambert was a "rubber stamp for the reckless and irresponsible ideological agenda" of former House speaker Bill O'Brien and state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley.
Until two weeks ago, Lambert had been expected to face a GOP congressional primary campaign against O'Brien, who been exploring a candidacy. But O'Brien pulled out of contention, leaving Lambert, for the time being at least, as the only GOP contender for the seat.
Bradley, citing family members' illnesses, this week said he will not run for either the U.S. Senate or governor, the two offices he had considered.
Kuster is expected to seek reelection to the 2nd District seat. Although she has yet to formally announce, she is actively fund-raising and organizing.
Lambert did not address the Syrian crisis in his announcement speech but told reporters afterwards that he opposes President Barack Obama's approach, saying that before the U.S. flexes its military muscle, there should be a clear plan and a clear goal.
"I haven't seen a plan or a strategy given by this administration that I can support," Lambert said.
Lambert noted that he has a masters degree in strategic studies from the Army War College, and said, "I'm used to a commander-in-chief coming out with a strategy.
"Lobbing a bunch of missiles into Syria, I don't see that as a plan or a strategy," he told reporters. "I want to see an end game.
"But as far as just throwing missiles into a country, that normally doesn't work too well."
He said the U.S. should indeed act when it has proof that a regime is using chemical weapons.
"But the reaction from this administration has been a poor one so far. I'm waiting to see the President come up with a plan I can actually support."
Kuster has said she is undecided about whether to support a resolution authorizing Obama to launch a limited attack on Syria.
She has said she has "grave concerns" because "U.S. military intervention could have unintended consequences in the region."
Kuster planned to host a "live listening session" via conference call Wednesday evening with constituents in order to hear their views on Syria.
Lambert called for "an immigration policy that actually makes sense." A spokesman said after the announcement that Lambert opposes the current immigration bills before the House and Senate and will oppose any bill that fails to secure the borders first or that allows for "amnesty."
Overall, said Lambert, "I want to be part of the new troops sent to Washington by voters, who are willing to take on the big challenges, reject gridlock and bring the old 'can do' American spirit back to our nation's capital.
"Republicans stand for low taxes, living within our means and balanced budget. Voters are counting on Republicans to keep the focus on jobs and strengthening the middle class, not divisive Washington politics," he said.
Democrats, he said, have "ignored the middle class."
Lambert, accompanied by his wife, Lori, two daughters, aged 17 and 12, and mother, Melitta Lambert, is a Providence, R.I., native who received a law degree from Drake University, a master's degree from the Army War College and a bachelor's degree from Valparasio University. He started Lambert and Associates of Nashua in 1989 after having served for three years as a military attorney in the U.S. Marine Corps and after having worked for two years in a large law firm in Boston.
His numerous military awards include a Bronze Star in 2005, two Meritorious Service Medals and medals for serving in Iraq and in the global war on terrorism. He said he will retire from the Marines next June.
Kuster is viewed as potentially vulnerable next year, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee joined the state Democratic Party in going on the offensive.
The DCCC cited Lambert's vote for an "extreme Republican budget that slashed funding for critical state programs," for "right to work" legislation and against same-sex marriage in New Hampshire.
Lambert, asked to respond, said he considers himself "a family guy, a faith-based person, pro-life and I believe in family values."
From the political right, the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire cited Lambert's support for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program as a state senator.
AFP-NH executive director Greg Moore said that in effect, Lambert backed "a cap and trade program that would drive up electricity rates and a cap and trade program that would drive up the cost of gas and diesel."
He said Lambert should address the issue quickly.
Lambert said does not consider himself a member of the Tea Party and said he was proud of his record as a senator, which he said, focused on low taxes and "living within our means."
He said Kuster has no plan for bringing the federal deficit under control, for keeping Medicare and Social Security out of bankruptcy or to help job creators.
He charged she has "sat idly by as the IRS comes after law abiding Americans and as the Obamacare trainwreck continues to move forward."
He promised to vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and said the IRS targeting of conservative groups "a disgrace."
As Lambert's campaign began, a "Lambert for Congress" web site went live with a biographical section entitled, "Meet the Colonel."