From Bob Smith’s statement at the New Hampshire GOP Unity Breakfast after the primary, 9/12/14:
Yesterday, I spoke at length with Scott Brown and informed him of many of my concerns regarding the issues where we differ. As difficult as it was for me, I offered my support and told him that I looked forward to celebrating his victory in November. Senator Brown pledged to reach out to me on issues of disagreement, but we both agreed that sending Shaheen back to the Senate to support Obama would be a disaster for our country and would do nothing to enhance the conservative cause.
Candidates gathered on State House plaza in Concord Sunday afternoon to make their pitches to pro-life voters. Here’s a selection of the speakers. Thumbs up to Women for Bob Smith, who organized the event and managed to bring together a wide variety of candidates.
[8/14: This post has been revised to reflect a change in the lineup of speakers.]
No endorsements here – remember, I’m not a PAC, and I have a day job that calls for primary neutrality – but I have no problem drawing your attention to an event this Sunday, August 17. A pro-life rally in Concord planned by a candidate, no less. Other candidates will be on hand as well, reaching out to pro-life voters. Huzzah, says I!
Come to the State House plaza Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. for this pro-life gathering sponsored by Women for Bob Smith. Should be a nice ice-free change from the usual January rally before the March for Life. Sunday’s speakers, as announced so far, include former-and-maybe-future Senator Bob Smith, Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway, Darlene Pawlik of New Hampshire Right to Life, and activist Karen Testerman. On board with one of these candidates? They’d love to see you there. Still working out who to vote for in the primary, which comes a little over three weeks from the rally? Come hear what they have to say.
Speaking of Karen Testerman, I ran into her at a local coffee shop yesterday. She radiated the energy that always animates her when there’s a campaign going on. She bowed out of the primary and pledged her support to Bob Smith. She meant business. She’s looking forward to Sunday’s rally. Her parting words to me regarding the Smith campaign: “If we get fifty percent of the registered voters who are Catholic and Evangelical, we win.” Ah, but that’s the catch: will the pro-life voters, regardless of faith affiliation or lack thereof, come out in an off-year primary?
Smart candidates care about that. I look forward to hearing from some of them Sunday.
New Hampshire Right to Life’s political action committee showcased signers of its 2014 “Affirmation Statement” Thursday evening in Manchester, with guest speaker Rebecca Kiessling of Save the 1. (See coverage of a May 2013 interview with Kiessling and Darlene Pawlik here.) The deck at Murphy’s Taproom was the setting for a few speeches and a lot of mingling with New Hampshire candidates for offices ranging from state representative to U.S. Senate.
Kiessling, conceived in rape, takes “exceptions” legislation personally. When a law restricting abortion has an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape, “I’m that exception.” She campaigns nationwide for legislation respecting the lives of all preborn children. She urged candidates to keep two things in mind when faced with pressure to endorse exceptions. “First, don’t ever say [pregnancy from rape] is rare. It’s not. Twenty-seven thousand [children are] born every year as a result of rape. Don’t diminish, just defend. Number two, talk about our sense of justice in America. It is extreme to punish an innocent person for someone else’s crime, and we don’t do that. It’s un-American.”
Introduced by PAC chairman Darlene Pawlik as “the only pro-life gubernatorial candidate,” Andrew Hemingway began his remarks by reflecting on the New Hampshire state motto. “I am running for governor because I believe our state motto, Live Free or Die, is more than just a catchy marketing phrase. It’s a statement of principle. The first of our rights is the right to life.” Referring to the GOP, “As a party, I do not believe we should be backing away from this issue. This is a fundamental right.” He thanked his listeners before giving them a challenge. “I have traveled around the state of New Hampshire, and there is a re-awakening to the issue of life. I’m excited about it. Hopefully, all of us tonight will be more inspired, and we’ll meet candidates who will carry the torch. We’ll see a life-voters turnout in September. That’s what we need. And I don’t know how to express this enough: there is a tremendous amount of responsibility that comes with the knowledge of these types of issues. You need to tell every single person voting in September how important this issue is. Candidates can only do so much. It’s you. We need you. Talk, talk, talk to as many people as you can.”
Former U.S. Senator Bob Smith, running to regain his seat, got a warm reception from the crowd in tribute to his eighteen years as a pro-life leader in Washington. He took the mic and cast a sly glance toward WMUR-TV’s political reporter, James Pindell, who arrived just after Kiessling had finished speaking. Smith got a round of applause for urging Pindell to feature Kiessling and her story in his report on the event. Then, he turned to his own candidacy. “It’s been the highest honor and privilege of my entire political life, and indeed almost of my whole life, to stand on the Senate floor on numerous occasions, and before that the House floor, and stand up for life. The ultimate freedom, the ultimate liberty, is the right to be born. I just want to be a little bit personal here. We speak about this issue in general terms. ‘A woman’s right to choose.’ Or ‘a fetus.’ It’s very impersonal. But let me tell you something: it’s pretty damn personal when you get to know what happens. I’ve cried with women who have had abortions, I’ve cried over the babies who have died from abortions, and I’ve cried with people who’ve performed them and regretted them.” He said this election “is not about the big money. It’s really not. It’s about issues like this one. This is what matters. When the history books are written, you are the heroes. We [candidates] have the easy part. It’s you who are behind us that make us do what we do, because we believe. We know you believe. We know you want us to do the right thing and stop this atrocity. I spent eighteen years trying to stop it, and if God lets me, I’ll spend the next eighteen years and I WILL stop it.”
Also attending were candidates for state Senate and House who have signed NHRTL-PAC’s Affirmation Statement. The PAC uses the Statement as the first step in an endorsement process. The names of endorsed candidates will go online Monday, August 5 at nhrtlpac.org and will be updated throughout the campaign season.
Nine months ago, Karen Testerman sat down with me to discuss her thoughts about running to replace Jeanne Shaheen in the U.S. Senate. Later, she declared her intention to run. She was undeterred by other candidates, preferring to make her own case to voters statewide. Today, on the last day for New Hampshire’s 2014 candidates to file for office, she arrived at the State House with Bob Smith, and announced that she has decided to back him for Senate.
I know Karen, and I know this had to be a tough call for her. Thumbs up, I say, particularly after I stood amid the crowd today and heard her statement.
“…time and again, I observe elections where candidates who fully embrace the principles of the Republican Party split the conservative vote, thus enabling the candidate who compromises our basic tenets of life, liberty and property to slide into victory…. I will not let it happen again. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result….It is time for all of us to put aside pride and focus on our greater goal, that of fighting for family, faith and freedom. I will not force our principle-driven primary voters to make a self-defeating choice. After much prayer and consultation, I will step aside to allow [former] Senator Bob Smith to be the only conservative name on the primary ballot.”
Pro-life is not necessarily synonymous with conservative or Republican (ask any self-identified “liberty Republican”), but it sure is when Testerman and Smith are speaking. They don’t want to split the pro-life vote. Good for them.
Ten Republicans have filed for the right to face Shaheen in November. Most are unknown outside their communities. I’ll identify the pro-lifers, but it’s a safe bet that aside from Smith, none of them can bring a dozen years of Senate seniority to the table.