Surrogates flock to New Hampshire with six weeks to go before election

  • Donald Trump Jr. visited the White Birch Armory in Dover during his visit to New Hampshire this week. —Courtesy Trump campaign

For the Monitor 
Published: 9/25/2020 3:44:42 PM

With less than six weeks to go until Election Day in November, President Donald Trump has a new rallying cry for his supporters.

Chants of “fill that seat” have broken out at campaign events the president’s held since the death a week ago of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

To the distress of Democrats, Trump and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are vowing to quickly confirm a conservative successor to fill the seat of the late justice and trailblazing advocate for gender equality and civil rights. And with the GOP controlling the Senate 53-47 and only two Republican senators objecting to filling the seat just weeks before an election when the fate of the White House and the Senate will be determined by American voters, Trump and McConnell have the numbers to confirm whomever the president nominates.

In some ways, the push for a quick confirmation is a political gift for the president. The prospect of cementing a conservative majority on the high court unifies Republicans like no other topic. And it helps move the spotlight a bit off issues that have dominated the presidential campaign, like the coronavirus pandemic that’s taken the lives of more than 200,000 people across the country, and an economy that’s been devastated by the pandemic. The president has played defense for months as he’s repeatedly been called upon to defend his record on both issues.

This new political dynamic was in the spotlight this week during a campaign stop by Vice President Mike Pence in New Hampshire, which is a key general election battleground state.

During a rally at the airport in Gilford, Pence on Tuesday promised that “four more years means more judges.”

Pence touted that Trump would soon be nominating "another principled conservative" to the Supreme Court. "And after the Senate fulfills their duty to advise and consent, we're going to fill that seat," Pence stressed.

"This president, as I said before, has appointed more conservatives to our Court of Appeals than any president in American history," Pence highlighted. "We're going to keep on appointing strong, principled conservatives from the Supreme Court to all of our federal courts for four more years."

As expected, the fierce fight over confirming a successor to Ginsburg with the presidential election closing fast has become an issue in the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the former governor who’s running for a third 6-year term representing the state in the Senate, quickly joined fellow Democrats in calling for the vote to be held after the election.

“It is in the best interest of our country to allow the American people to decide who will select the next nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. This next justice will determine the future of civil rights and voting rights, health care access and reproductive freedoms for every American, and the voices of the people should be heard," Shaheen said in a statement released two days after the passing of Ginsburg.

Corky Messner, the GOP Senate nominee who’s considered the underdog as he challenges Shaheen, said the next day that the Senate should vote on a Supreme Court nominee "with all deliberate speed.”

Even though the governor of New Hampshire has no direct say in the Supreme Court nomination, the titanic confirmation clash has even filtered into the state’s gubernatorial showdown between Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, the Democratic challenger.

High profile visits

This week’s campaign stops, first by Pence and then by Donald Trump Jr., followed a visit by Trump last month. The president held a rally at Manchester-Boston regional airport, making the Granite State his first stop after formally accepting the GOP nomination at the Republican National Convention.

To date, neither Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden nor his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, have made stops in the state during the general election, but both of their spouses have campaigned here.

New Hampshire GOP chair Steve Stepanek recently took aim at the Democratic ticket.

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have still not stepped foot in the Granite State since their disastrous First-in-the-Nation primary campaigns,” he said.

But longtime state Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley told the Monitor that “there is no evidence that having either Donald Trump or Mike Pence show up anywhere has had any impact on any election at any time since their inauguration.”

“The reality is we’re going to win New Hampshire because of the issues, not because of who’s visited New Hampshire,” he added.

Big bucks in gubernatorial race

With less than six weeks until Election Day, the air wars in the Sununu-Feltes race are heating up.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party announced Friday morning that it would spend at least $1 million to run TV and digital ads starting Saturday that characterize Sununu as a self-described “Trump guy.”

The party described the ad-blitz as an "issue-advocacy campaign" to "educate Granite Staters about Sununu's real agenda."

About an hour after the NHDP’s announcement, the Republican Governor’s Association unveiled its first TV spot in the contest. The commercial charges that Feltes “wants to raise taxes on our families and small businesses.”

The RGA told the Monitor that they’re spending at least $1 million to run the ad.

2020 visit with potential 2024 implications

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in President Trump’s administration, will campaign for Republicans in New Hampshire next Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 30-Oct. 1).

Among those she’ll help is First Congressional District GOP nominee Matt Mowers, who worked as a political appointee at the State Department from 2017-2019. And she’ll team up with former Sen. Kelly Ayotte to help raise money for state House of Representatives Republicans.

While the trip is about 2020, Haley is considered a possible 2024 GOP presidential contender. And a trip to New Hampshire – the state that holds the first primary in the presidential nominating calendar – will raise eyebrows about her potential national aspirations in the next White House race.




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