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Granite Status: Guinta backs de-funding 'Obamacare,' charges Shea-Porter 'out-of-touch' with Granite Staters

By John DiStaso, Senior Political Reporter
September 24. 2013 2:54PM

(See our interview with former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta on the Affordable Care Act below.)

TUESDAY, SEPT. 24: NH'S HEMINGWAY: 'JUST LENT MY NAME.' Former House speaker Newt Gingrich's attorney has demanded a group trying to "Draft Newt" to run for the U.S. Senate from Virginia "cease and desist" its activities.

The "Draft Newt" group has sent at least two emails nationally, both with messages signed by Andrew Hemingway of Bristol, a conservative activist who headed Gingrich's New Hampshire campaign for President in the 2012 campaign.

One email quotes Hemingway as saying he is "leading the effort." The other quotes Hemingway as saying "I am launching" the grassroots petition.

But Hemingway tells the Granite Status he is only peripherally involved.

Hemingway said the Gingrich supporters in Virginia who organized the group "just asked me to lend my name to a couple of emails" because he is a prominent supporter.

"And being an ardent supporter of Newt, and liking the idea of having Newt in the Senate, I was happy to do it," he said.

But said he neither launched nor is "leading the effort" and that his name does not appear on any official filings for the group.

The Washington-based said Hemingway "founded" the "Draft Newt" group it in its report Tuesday that Gingrich's attorney demanded the group "cease and desist from the unauthorized use of Speaker Gingrich's name or likeness" and "from any activity implying or insinuating that your group is in any way authorized by, or affiliated with, Speaker Gingrich or his organizations."

"That's wrong," Hemingway told us. "I am not a founder."

Hemingway said the true organizers of the group have told him "they have responded by complying with the request."

Group treasurer Dan Barker told Politico the group has forwarded to Gingrich's attorney the 8,400 names on an online petition the group received.

(An earlier Granite Status report follows.)

TUESDAY, SEPT. 24: GUINTA: NH OPPOSES HEALTH CARE LAW. Former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta said Tuesday he supports the House vote last week to de-fund "Obamacare" as a condition of keeping the government running and charged his former and possible future general election opponent is "out of touch" with her constituents by backing the health care law.

Republican Guinta, who on Monday formally announced his candidacy for the 1st District U.S. House seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, said in an interview that Granite Staters have consistently opposed President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

"I would have supported the bill that came to the floor to continue funding of the federal government while staying consistent with the wishes" of the 1st District and the state, Guinta said.

The roll call in the GOP-controlled House last Friday was 230-189, virtually along party lines.

Shea-Porter last week called the House GOP position "an irresponsible political crusade" and charged House "extremists" were "holding Congress and the American people hostage."

The resolution is dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate, where majority Democrats are working on their own continuing resolution, stripping out the provision that would de-fund the ACA.

"I remain, as do New Hampshire voters, opposed to the Affordable Care Act," Guinta said. "I've been saying for several years that it is going to reduce affordability and reduce access. My position remains the same," he said.

Regarding the potential for a government shutdown over the health care issue, Guinta said, I'm just as frustrated as everyone in the country about this lack of ability to get anything done in Washington."

But he said Friday's vote was to keep the government running "while expressing the will of the country that the Affordable Care Act is not in the best interest of the country.

"And our current representative," Shea-Porter, he said, "voted against that. In my view, she's out of step with what the people of New Hampshire want and voted for shutting down the government."

Guinta said "survey after survey" conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center has shown the ACA is unpopular in New Hampshire.

Since 2010, UNH polls conducted for WMUR television have indicated that more Granite Staters oppose "Obamacare" than favor it.

In the most recent statewide poll on the subject, conducted in July, 35 percent favored the law, while 44 percent were opposed, with 21 percent "neutral" or undecided.

Guinta said that Shea-Porter, even as a member of the House minority, has the ability to present an alternative, but "continues to listen to (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi instead of working across party lines.

"John Boehner, as speaker, allows both the minority and the majority to bring votes to the floor, unlike when Nancy Pelosi was speaker," said Guinta.

Shea-Porter, he said, "can't hide behind the view that because she is in the minority, she can't effectuate change. Nobody in New Hampshire wants to hear that."

He said that as Manchester's mayor from 2006 through 2009, he was able to "work with a super-majority of Democrats" on the city's Board of Mayor and Aldermen "to get things accomplished, such as the first tax cut in a decade, taking on crime and modernizing the delivery systems of our departments.

"I didn't get everything I wanted, but I worked with Democrats. That's what people want right now," he said.

Shea-Porter was elected to the House in 2006 and reelected in 2008. Guinta defeated her, 54 to 42 percent, in 2010, and then lost to her, 50 to 46 percent, last year.

Shea-Porter, he said, "voted to shut down the government. She voted out of step with what people of New Hampshire want relative to the Affordable Care Act, and that's why people are angry.

"She had an opportunity to break with her party and vote for a solution, and she opted not to," said Guinta.

"I understand this was a partisan vote. I get that," he said. "But this notion of the government shutting down could have been stopped on Friday. Our representative made a very powerful statement, that she stands with Nancy Pelosi and not with New Hampshire."

State Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein said, "It took less than 24 hours for Guinta to betray his phony new brand and revert back to his reckless Tea Party ideology.

"He is siding with Ted Cruz and Rand Paul instead of the hardworking people of New Hampshire."

Kirstein said a government shutdown would hurt veterans, the military and "programs vital to the middle class.

"But none of that matters to Frank Guinta on his radical right wing crusade to re-fight the health care battles of the past. He is willing to devastate the economy, and hurt the economic well being of Granite Staters all in the name of the Tea Party."

Kirstein said that while Guinta cites polling numbers on the ACA, "he lost reelection in 2012 with an irresponsible repeal of Obamacare at center of his campaign. The ACA is reducing costs and helping people live healthier lives."

With the issue now before the Senate, Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is backing Guinta and will host an October fund-raiser for him, has a different view than Guinta, House Republicans and 2nd District Republican congressional hopeful Gary Lambert.

Like many Senate Republicans, Ayotte supports repeal of the health care law, but not at the risk of a government shutdown, which, she said, is not "a strategy that is good for America."

Guinta said, "I would not characterize that as a difference of opinion. Let the House of Representatives do its work, send the legislation to the Senate and then let the Senate to work its will."

Guinta said "good public policy" results from each body voting its will on issues and then hammering out differences in committees of conference.

"What I see Senator Ayotte saying is, 'Let the House send us a bill and we'll work on the bill.' And that's the way it should work.

"When it comes down to two, three or four players in Washington dictating what happens, that's what makes the country angry," he said. "You are eliminating the will of the people."

Guinta said that as he ramps up his campaign, he expects to be the target of "standard attacks used across the country" by Democrats. "It's started already.

"People are not interested in how a party can knock somebody down but what your solutions are," he said. "The fact that the leadership of the Democratic Party is trying to tear me down is standard operating procedure, but I think people see through that."

Guinta is expected to face a GOP primary challenge from Dan Innis of Portsmouth, the outgoing dean of the Peter T. Paul School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire.

"It doesn't matter to me," he said. "I run for the opportunity to work for the people of this state. "I don't focus on that."

Guinta said he came to his decision to again seek the House seat during the summer after speaking with his wife, Morgan and his 10 and 8-year-old children.

He said he chose to run for the House instead of the Senate because "I enjoy the process of the House because you do have a lot of involvement and engagement in public policy."

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