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Wit flies at Wild Irish Breakfast in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

March 14. 2014 9:43PM
At left, Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau shares a laugh with former Nashua Mayor Bernie Streeter on Friday at the Wild Irish Breakfast to benefit The PLUS Co., Inc., a nonprofit human services agency. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA — Politicians celebrated St. Patrick's Day early on Friday, roasting one another with an Irish blessing, a dose of blarney and even some Irish wit from a possible presidential contender.

At the 23rd Annual Wild Irish Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza, light-hearted barbs was dished out in full as attendees were subjected to political jokes all for a good cause — to raise money for The PLUS Co., Inc., a city organization that helps individuals with disabilities become self-reliant and productive.

State Rep. David Campbell and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown were easily the most mentioned politicians throughout the early morning event, even from Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who was a guest speaker.

Before arriving in New Hampshire, Jindal said he did some homework on current events in the state, eventually reading about Campbell's recent incident at the Crowne Plaza when he ran over and killed several ducks. While that has apparently become a scandal in the Granite State, Jindal joked, "Back in Louisiana, we would just call that dinner."

Several other speakers took a few jabs at Campbell as well, including Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., who warned Jindal that although he may governor Louisiana — stomping ground for the reality television show "Duck Dynasty" — Nashua actually represents the Duck Dynasty of the north.

"Duck hunting is a little different here in the north," she joked.

With speculation about Ayotte possibly being part of a presidential ticket in 2016, Ayotte said she heard Jindal was in New Hampshire scoping out a possible vice-presidential running mate.

"Governor, I have the perfect person for you," said a lighthearted Ayotte. " … Bobby, wait until you meet Gov. John H. Sununu."

Met with laughter and applause, Jindal was quick to respond to Ayotte's humor. Saying he has no plans to run, he reinforced that notion by adding, "I will come here to New Hampshire again and again to say that over and over."

Jindal even poked fun at Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan, addressing talk that Hassan recently acknowledged she smoked marijuana in college. While the term "pothead" may be a little harsh, Jindal joked that the story would have been even bigger if a Brown University student — where Hassan graduated from — said they didn't smoke marijuana.

Hassan didn't shy away from the roasting, as she was one of several speakers to pick on Brown.

Brown apparently couldn't attend the Wild Irish Breakfast on Friday since he left for an impromptu trip to the Ukraine where a special election was taking place, Hassan said. Ayotte also targeted Brown, noting she was disappointed to learn that she was the second-choice as guest speaker for the event. Brown turned down the offer after learning he had to wear a shirt to the event, said Ayotte, referencing a New Hampshire Union Leader page one photograph of Brown participating in the Penguin Plunge last month with his shirt off.

The roasting was all to raise money for an organization that empowers people with disabilities — clients of the PLUS Co. who have flourished because of the agency's Adult Education Program.

About 400 people attended the fundraising event at the Radisson Hotel. All laughing aside, the quirky function served as a serious fundraiser for the PLUS Co., an acronym for People Learning Useful Skills, raising thousands of dollars to support programs that assist individuals with disabilities and help them develop lifelong skills and promote independence.

The organization was described by Bob Purcell, chairman of The PLUS Co. board of directors, as the tapestry of Nashua.

"You are like a Swiss army knife with a heart — you do it all," he told the company's employees and clients.

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