Occasional Reports, Notes and Commentaries on the Road to the White House
Presidential Campaign Organizing in New Hampshire
Eric M. Appleman

Report Feb. 18, 1999
Developing a good grassroots organization is one of the keys to doing well in the New Hampshire primary. Some of the candidates have been making regular visits to the Granite State and cultivating activists for years; others have only recently focused on building their organizations. 

Nationally, conventional wisdom says that Vice President Gore and the as-yet-undeclared Texas Gov. George W. Bush are the frontrunners, although Elizabeth Dole has also been attracting notice lately. Will a year of retail politics change things?

Here is how the candidates and prospective candidates looked one year out, "at the starting line."

Republicans: Open Field

The New Hampshire Republican presidential primary could be a wide open affair. Among those most active in the pre-campaign period were Lamar Alexander and Steve Forbes, along with Dan Quayle. One big prize will be the support of Sen. Judd Gregg, who swept to an easy re-election win in 1998. 

Alexander | Bauer | Buchanan | Bush | Dole | Forbes | Kasich | Keyes | McCain | Quayle | Smith | Others

Democrats: Gore in the Driver's Seat

New Hampshire residents have more than a decade's experience with Al Gore, dating back to his 1988 presidential campaign. As Vice President, Gore has visited the state several times a year, often bringing with him federal dollars. Thus far, Gore’s only challenge is from former Sen. Bill Bradley. Jesse Jackson and Sen. John Kerry may enter the race.

Gore | Bradley | Jackson | Kerry | Others

Republicans: Open Field

Former Gov. Lamar Alexander. Alexander, who announced his exploratory committee on January 8, appears to have the best organization in the state. He hopes to build on his showing in the 1996 Republican primary, when he finished third behind Buchanan and Dole, with 22.6% of the vote (47,148 votes). "He had a pretty good organization last time out, and most of it is intact," NH GOP chair Steve Duprey said. Alexander's PAC, the Campaign for a New American Century, had a second floor office on North Main Street in Concord, manned by Tim Buckley, who did field organizing for Bill Zeliff's unsuccessful 1996 bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Buckley says Alexander has "retained well over 90-percent of the people who were with us last time." Of 80 state representatives who backed Alexander in 1996, 56 are still serving, and Buckley counts them as still in Alexander's camp. Alexander put on a convincing display of organizational muscle in Rye on August 20, 1998 when his second New Hampshire Republican lobster bake drew about 2,800 people. The Eagle-Tribune of Haverhill, MA described it as "the biggest Republican campaign event ever in the state." Alexander's We The Parents political action committee ran some television advertising in New Hampshire in the latter part of August and early September 1998. Alexander made at least ten visits to the Granite State in 1997-98. He has the support of RNC national committeeman Tom Rath, former Executive Councilor Bill Cahill and District Five Executive Councilor Bernie Streeter.

Gary Bauer. Bauer's Campaign for Working Families opened an office in New Hampshire on August 3, 1998, chaired by Ellen Kolb, former president of NH Right to Life; Karen Testerman helped CWF-NH as a consultant. Campaign for Working Families was active in the 1998 elections. For the September 8 primary, CWF spent about $18,000 in support of nine State Senate candidates and 21 House candidates; in late October CWF made a $60,000 independent expenditure for radio and television in support of gubernatorial candidate Jay Lucas. Bauer himself made half a dozen visits to the state in 1997-98. He has a strong appeal to the Christian Coalition and right-to-life constituencies, however these groups have considerably less clout in New Hampshire than in Iowa. Bauer can be expected to attract former Buchanan supporters if, as appears likely, Buchanan does not enter the race. (Bauer established his exploratory committee February 1).

Pat Buchanan. In 1997-98 Buchanan made only one visit to the state, on April 16, 1998 to promote his book The Great Betrayal. A Buchanan campaign appears unlikely. Nationally, quite a few of Buchanan's advisors have signed on with other prospects; here in New Hampshire, Peter Robbio, who managed the state campaign for Buchanan in 1996, has gone over to Forbes. After two campaigns, enthusiasm for Buchanan may have waned. Of course, Buchanan did finish first in the 1996 GOP primary, and there are still many loyal Buchanan supporters. The Buchanan Brigades, in some form, could be re-activated if he were to make a third bid.

Gov. George W. Bush. Although Bush has not been to New Hampshire in over three years (he attended the Republican Governors Association meeting in Nashua, Nov. 19-21, 1995), NH GOP chair Steve Duprey says there are "a great number of Bush loyalists" in the state. Bush has made "a lot of friends" campaigning during his father's campaigns. "He would have a strong following," Duprey said. Among those who might play prominent roles in a Bush campaign is RNC national committeewoman Ruth L. Griffin of Portsmouth.

Elizabeth Dole. Dole has been in New Hampshire many times campaigning for her husband and has favorably impressed many of the activists she has met on those visits."There are a committed group of Dole-ites from '96 standing at the ready," GOP state chair Steve Duprey said. "She would be a serious candidate and a good candidate," Duprey said. In November 1998 some activists here began conversations about the idea of a Dole candidacy. Toni Pappas of Manchester, a former state representative and 1996 congressional candidate, has emerged as the state leader of the draft Elizabeth Dole movement. Attorney Alec Koromilas of Dover has been another prominent Dole booster. Dole's January 4 announcement that she was resigning from the American Red Cross prompted a lot of speculation, which her February 8 speech to the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce did little to dampen. NH GOP assistant chair Barbara Russell, who was active in Bob Dole's 1996 campaign, is officially neutral.

Steve Forbes. In the 1996 New Hampshire Republican primary, Forbes finished a disappointing fourth with 12.2% of the vote (25,505 votes). In the years since then, he has built a strong organization in New Hampshire through Americans for Hope, Growth and Opportunity, his national issue advocacy organization. AHGO-NH co-chairs are Patty Humphrey (of Chichester, wife of former Senator Gordon Humphrey), Wally Stickney (Salem), and Bob Winn (Rye). As of February 1999, AHGO-NH had a mailing list of about 8,500 names. Paul Young, Forbes' point person in New Hampshire, is highly regarded. Peter Robbio, who ran Pat Buchanan's 1996 campaign in New Hampshire, has been on Forbes' team for some months. AHGO-NH has run a few limited radio and television ad campaigns in the state. For example, on Jan. 7-10, 1999 it ran a four-day, $30,000 television ad campaign on WMUR-TV; the ad focused on Forbes' mainstay policy proposals: flat tax, health care, education, and Social Security. In addition, AHGO-NH paid for two, live half-hour TV call-in shows on WMUR-TV. "NH Speaks with Steve Forbes" aired on April 21 and on September 16, 1998. In 1997-98 Forbes made ten trips to New Hampshire, totaling 13 days. One of his bigger events was a Memorial Day picnic, May 30, 1998 at Mt. Sunapee State Park with Cheshire and Sullivan County Republican committees (Patty Humphrey notes that, unlike Lamar Alexander, they did not hand out free lobsters). As is the case nationally, Forbes has reached out to social conservatives in New Hampshire. On February 6, 1999 he was one of three likely candidates to appear at the NH Christian Coalition’s "First in the Nation Primary Gala Celebration;" he hosted a breakfast the next morning. Paul Young argues that Forbes is best positioned to rebuild the Reagan coalition. Forbes seems to have left open the possibility that he might compete in a Delaware primary that would infringe on the 7-day window protecting the New Hampshire’s first status, and this might hurt him among some voters. 

Rep. John Kasich. Kasich is close with both New Hampshire congressmen, Reps. Bass and Sununu, who serve with him on the Budget Committee. He made five visits to the state in 1997-98, but did not appear to have made much progress toward building an organization. On Jan. 28, 1999, Kasich 2000, the exploratory committee, announced appointment of Bruce Berke as New Hampshire advisor. Berke, president of Capitol Consultants of New Hampshire, served as campaign manager for Charlie Bass in 1994, and chaired Bass' 1996 re-election campaign. He has extensive experience on New Hampshire primary campaigns: Baker '80, Reagan '84, Dole '88, Bush '92, and Dole '96.

Alan Keyes. John A. Simmons, an attorney and former state representative from North Hampton, is Keyes' most prominent supporter in New Hampshire. Keyes made three brief visits to New Hampshire in 1997-98; he has been focusing more attention on Iowa, where his strong pro-life message resonates with social conservatives. In the 1996 New Hampshire Republican primary, Keyes finished sixth with 2.7% of the vote (5,572 votes), however Keyes supporters note they have been building a strong nationwide network and that the Clinton scandals may heighten the effectiveness of his moral message.

Sen. John McCain. Former Sen. Warren Rudman is co-chairman of McCain's exploratory committee. In 1997-98 McCain made four brief visits to the state. While conventional wisdom says that McCain's high-profile stands on tobacco and campaign finance reform have hurt him among Republican activists, he could well strike a spark with independent-minded New Hampshire voters. McCain has a lot of organizational work to do, but the just-announced (Feb. 17) appointment of Mike Dennehy, a former executive director of the NH State Republican Committee, as New England political director of his exploratory committee, should get him started. 

Former Vice President Dan Quayle. Like Alexander and Forbes, Quayle has built a strong organization in New Hampshire. In June 1998, he named Ovid Lamontagne, the 1996 Republican gubernatorial nominee, as New Hampshire chair of his political action committee, Campaign America. Lamontagne, in the words of one Republican activist, is "a worker, not a figurehead" who "has a dedicated, loyal group of supporters." Another heavyweight supporter is former Gov. John Sununu, who has hosted Quayle on some of his visits. Manchester lawyer Marc Chretien served as Campaign America's New Hampshire Field Director from May-October 1998; although Chretien took a job in Washington, Campaign America and now the exploratory committee run out of a space in his offices. Brian Moushegin, who was field director for Lamontagne's 1996 campaign and ran Manchester Mayor Wieczorek's successful re-election campaign, started with Campaign America in May 1998 and has been the day-to-day point person for Campaign America and the exploratory committee. On a February 11 visit Quayle formally launched his New Hampshire campaign, naming Sununu national co-chairman, Lamontagne NH state chairman and Gordon MacDonald, a former top aide to Sen. Gordon Humphrey, state director. Campaign America has shown itself to be smart politically; in August 1998 it contracted with veteran political operatives Dave Carney and James McKay to run State Senate campaigns for the November election, earning the gratitude of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. Dan Quayle and Marilyn Quayle made nine visits to New Hampshire in 1998 (Dan four and Marilyn five).

Sen. Bob Smith. Smith hopes a strong showing in his home state will ignite his long-shot candidacy. Smith’s national field person, Ed Corrigan, is from Merrimack, New Hampshire. The plainspoken New Hamsphire Senator may be able to attract some former Buchanan supporters. However, he will not be able to count on favorite son support, as, for example, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) did in the 1992 Iowa caucuses. In 1996 Smith was re-elected to the Senate by a very narrow margin (49%-46%). Jeff Woodburn, outgoing chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, has vowed to pay $100 to the first GOP official to endorse Smith in his presidential bid. Although Smith has launched an innovative "Purchase Stock in America’s Future" program, there are serious questions about whether he will be able to raise sufficient money. The Union Leader and the Concord Monitor have both editorialized against Smith’s run for president 


Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani ventured into New Hampshire once, on October 19, 1998, and did a number of events including an appearance at Dartmouth College in Hanover and a speech at the Nashua Federated Republican Women's Club annual dinner. With his positions in support of such issues as abortion rights, national gun control laws, and homosexual rights, Giuliani would have a strong appeal to moderate Republicans, but he has not taken any steps to build an organization and is thought to be likely to run for U.S. Senate.

Jack Kemp. Kemp, the 1996 Republican vice presidential nominee, made a visit to New Hampshire on March 27, 1998, when he spoke at the Strafford County Lincoln Day dinner in Rochester. He may have a few lingering supporters from his 1988 campaign. Kemp had opted out of running for president in 1996 because he didn’t have the stomach for the fundraising; there is no reason to believe he will run this time around.

Gov. George Pataki. Following his successful 1998 re-election campaign, Pataki has markedly stepped up his political travels. He is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the Manchester GOP Lincoln Day dinner on March 18.

Sen. Fred Thompson. Thompson made on trip to New Hampshire, on Oct. 20-21, 1998. On Oct. 20, he spoke to a class and delivered a public lecture at Daniel Webster College in Nashua; the next morning he did a breakfast with area CEOs.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich. A presidential bid remained a possibility for Gingrich in 1997 and 1998, until his political career came to an abrupt end, at least for the time being, with Republicans' disappointing showing on November 3, 1998. Gingrich made one trip to New Hampshire in 1997, during the August recess to do a fundraiser for congressmen Bass and Sununu, and he was in the state three times in 1998, all within the span of a month. On April 8 he was in Manchester signing copies of Lessons Learned the Hard Way as part of his book tour, in a second visit in April he did town meeting on IRS tax reform in Salem, and on May 7 he addressed the NH legislature, during which two dozen Democrats walked out as he again criticized Clinton. 

Sen. John Ashcroft. Ashcroft first ventured into New Hampshire in August 1997; altogether in 1997-98 he made four visits totaling ten days. He was not well known in the state. In an August 1998 visit Ashcroft took the rather bold measure of endorsing the conservative candidates in a number of contested Republican primaries. Ashcroft's American Values PAC ran a $90,000 television buy on WMUR-TV and cable from September 2-10, 1998. Ashcroft announced he would not pursue a presidential bid on January 5, 1999.

Democrats: Gore in the Driver's Seat

Vice President Al Gore. He alone can arrive on Air Force Two. He has the vice presidential seal affixed to the podium before, he delivers a speech. He is sure to receive media coverage. He has a huge edge on fundraising. Vice President Gore is clearly the man to beat.

Gore visited New Hampshire twice in 1997 and four times in 1998. On a typical trip he flew in on Air Force Two and was in the state for eleven or twelve hours doing events before flying out. On these visits Gore has been able to highlight some of his trademark issues, such as the environment (for example in a July 1998 visit to the banks of the Oyster River in Durham, Gore spoke on the Clean Water Action Plan and announced a $1.6 million federal grant to help clean up pollution in the Great Bay) and technology. His itinerary often includes an appearance at a school or college; tech firms are also common venues. 

President Clinton recently visited New Hampshire to mark the seventh anniversary of his second place finish in the 1992 primary. As heir to the "Comeback Kid," Al Gore has a hard act to follow. He is decidedly less glib than Clinton in his public appearances. A favored approach has been for the Vice President to "lead a discussion" on a favored subject such as teaching workers 21st century job skills, lifelong learning or a patient’s bill of rights. The format is kind of a town meeting on its head; it looks like a town meeting but Gore asks members of the audience to relate their experiences, rather than the audience posing questions to him. The tack also loses some of its effectiveness because of the cue cards Gore routinely refers to. 

Gore may need to improve his style, but he has been very methodical at wooing key Democratic constituencies. On a typical Gore trip, in addition to the public appearances, there will also be a closed door meeting or two with twenty five or thirty people, during which there are more freewheeling exchanges. Joe Keefe, a former state party chair and congressional candidate, has been a point person for Gore in New Hampshire. 

Gore appears not to have been tarred by the Clinton scandals, and the strong New Hampshire economy should, if it continues, protect him from a protest vote like the one Pat Buchanan delivered to President Bush in 1992.

Former Sen. Bill Bradley. Bradley made his first campaign trip to New Hampshire as a presidential candidate on January 25-27. On February 11, he released a list of over a hundred New Hampshire supporters or "citizen leaders," adding to list of about two dozen released in January. Bradley has not previously spent a lot of time in the state; he made one New Hampshire trip in 1997-98, a Sept. 25, 1998 visit during which he campaigned for several candidates. 

Jesse Jackson. Throughout 1994 and 1995, Jesse Jackson left open the possibility he might run for president a third time before eventually ruling out a bid. He has been making similar sounds this time, and one wonders if the outcome will be any different. There is one difference this time, however: Jackson’s son, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., wants him to run. The Clinton administration has not ignored Jackson Sr. In August 1998, Rev. Jackson ministered to Clinton at the White House prior to the president’s grand jury appearance and public statement. Clinton has spoken at both of Rainbow Push’s Wall Street Project forums (January 1998 and 1999) and in October 1997 he appointed Jackson Special Envoy for the promotion of democracy in Africa. In December 1998 Gore appeared on Jackson’s program "Both Sides" for a discussion that focused largely on the impeachment of President Clinton. To be sure there are differences. Jackson has condemned the Democratic Leadership Council/New Democrat philosophy, while Gore is supportive of it. The bottom line is that Jackson remains faithful to the Democratic party. Clinton’s wish is for Gore to succeed him; would Jackson do anything to impede that wish?

Sen. John Kerry. Sen. Kerry has been considering a run with an eye toward promoting his ideas on education reform. He has not ventured into the Granite State much, although the fact that he is from neighboring Massachusetts might help a bit.

Sen. Bob Kerrey. Sen. Kerrey made four visits to New Hampshire in 1998 and one visit in 1997. Kerrey’s leadership PAC, BACK PAC, had a person working in New Hampshire. Kerrey ruled out a 2000 presidential run on December 13, 1998.

Sen. Paul Wellstone. Wellstone made one visit to New Hampshire in 1997 and five visits in 1998. One of his busiest visits came on April 24-26, 1998, not long after he announced the establishment of his exploratory committee (April 8). By the beginning of 1999, Wellstone appeared to be on a track to launch his campaign; his exploratory committee had begun building up its staff, although it had not yet appointed anyone in New Hampshire. Then on January 9, he ruled out a presidential campaign.

Rep. Dick Gephardt. A decade after his 1988 campaign it appeared entirely possible that Gephardt might challenge Gore for the Democratic nomination. In 1997 he highlighted policy differences with the Administration in a number of areas. However Democratic gains in November 1998 made the Speakership appear a more readily obtainable goal, and on February 3, 1999 Gephardt announced he would forgo a presidential run. Gephardt made three visits to New Hampshire in 1997 and three visits in 1998. His 1998 visits were primarily filled with fundraisers and stumping for Democratic candidates.

Copyright 1999 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.