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GOP Candidate Johnson Focuses On N.H.

September 9, 2011Posted in News, Uncategorized

The Boston Globe reported recently on the release of “The New Hampshire Path.” Read the full commentary below:

Forget the early voting states of Iowa and South Carolina. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson makes no bones about it. “I am putting ‘all of my chips’ on New Hampshire,” he wrote in an email to supporters.

Johnson, a Republican presidential candidate, has become a familiar face in the first-in-the-nation primary state, which he has visited 15 times, most recently for nine days at the end of August.

The libertarian-leaning Republican, who led New Mexico from 1994 to 2003, barely shows up in most polls – if he appears at all. As of June 30, he had just $6,000 in his campaign account, after raising $180,000 total. He appeared in an early debate in South Carolina, but has not been invited to subsequent debates. But in a strategy memo released today by his senior campaign advisor Ron Nielson, Johnson made clear that he is not abandoning his campaign. He made a new fundraising push, and said he intends to keep a laser-like focus on the Granite State.

“It is a state where resources can be used very efficiently and very productively to convey Gary’s message,” Nielson wrote. “And it is a state which historically is not subject to domination or manipulation by special interests, the ‘establishment,’ or those who place disproportionate emphasis on social issues as opposed to core Republican principles of small government, individual freedom, and careful stewardship of managing the public’s pocket book.”

Matt Simon, Johnson’s New Hampshire spokesman, said while Johnson is doing big events around the country, he is saving the retail politicking for New Hampshire. “We think the way to break through is to show we’re gaining traction in New Hampshire,” Simon said.

In an ambitious target, Nielson said the campaign intends to spend $200,000 in New Hampshire, and projected that the money can help Johnson rise to between 5 and 10 percent in polls. Johnson plans to spend $60,000 on brochure mailings; $42,000 on TV ad buys; and between $20,000 and $30,000 apiece on yard signs, radio ads, and billboards. Smaller amounts of money will go to T-shirts, literature, and bumper stickers. He also has five paid staff members in New Hampshire.

Those figures are a drop in the bucket for the larger campaigns. Texas Congressman Ron Paul, for example, just announced a six-figure ad buy in two states attacking Rick Perry. Mitt Romney had $13 million in the bank at the end of June – with a separate political action committee raising money for him independently.

Nielson acknowledged that Johnson faces challenges – notably, a lack of name recognition or a fundraising network. Entering the race, Nielson wrote, “We didn’t have a database; we had a Rolodex.”

But he said the polls show a lack of name recognition, rather than voter preference. “The majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents are still looking for a candidate they can enthusiastically support…and the vast majority of those voters do not yet know Gary Johnson,” Nielson wrote.

Johnson, after leaving elected office, started the Our America Initiative, an advocacy group dedicated to “civil liberties, free enterprise, limited government, and traditional American values.” He is an advocate for limited government, who supports major cuts to the federal government, including to entailment programs and defense. He would withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and would get rid of the federal Department of Education, giving control to the states. He is pro-choice and has made legalizing marijuana a significant part of his campaign platform. Personally, Johnson is a triathlon competitor who has scaled Mt. Everest.

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