Oct 12, 2015 12:20 PM

Landrigan: US Senate rivals Ayotte and Hassan play nice, parties do not at NH's No Labels Convention


MANCHESTER - The white-hot, U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire features two, cool candidates today each trying to appear more bipartisan than the other.

But while Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan play nice at the No Labels Convention, their political parties fire bombs at the other side.

The two spoke moments apart to this packed crowd at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester that attracted eight presidential candidates, media outlets and activists from across the country.

"In the Senate, I like to consider myself part of the problem-solving caucus,’’ says Ayotte whose favorite line is to tout her recent ranking as the seventh most bipartisan member of the Club of 100 on Capitol Hill.

Gov. Hassan made a plug for the visits to shop in the no sales tax state and said New Hampshire is a "place that does democracy better’’ than any other state.

"When you are in a small, rural place with cold weather and a whole lot of granite you need people who are going to work hard and people who are going to work together,’’ Hassan said.

And Ayotte, a former attorney general, made a passionate pitch to solve what polls show is the state’s number one issue.

"We need to all work together to defeat the heroin epidemic facing our state right now,’’ Ayotte said.

The two-term governor, who announced for Senate last week, said forging compromise does not mean giving up your principles.

"But working in a bipartisan manner doesn’t mean we always agree with one another nor should it,’’ Hassan said. "In fact disagreements are a healthy ingredient of democracy.’’

The one-day truce on political brickbats did not extend to political parties.

Republican Chairwoman Jennifer Horn of Nashua’s welcoming speech read like an infomercial for Ayotte’s re-election.

Meanwhile, the state GOP was putting out a stinging, anti-Hassan memo entitled, "Gov. Hassan is no problem solver.’’

"She clings fiercely to her tax & spend and extreme policies, she demonizes members of the opposite party, and on many challenges facing our state and our nation we simply don't know what she believes,’’ Horn concludes.

Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley says Ayotte is a captive of special interest groups most notably Big Oil and Gas companies.

“Kelly Ayotte has worked overtime to solve the Koch Brothers’ problems since going to Washington, but if you don’t happen to be a well-connected Washington lobbyist or special interest then unfortunately you’re out of luck with Ayotte,” Buckley said. ``It’s deeply concerning that the Koch Brothers brag that Kelly Ayotte votes with their interests nearly 90% of the time, and New Hampshire’s families and small businesses deserve better.”

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