Source: www.foxnews.com : 2022-09-09 16:20:10 :
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LONDONDERRY, N.H. – With just five days to go until New Hampshire’s primary, and with the candidate Sen. Ted Cruz is backing in a competitive and increasingly nasty Republican congressional primary neck and neck with her rival, the conservative firebrand from Texas paid a visit to the key northern New England battleground state.
“The reason I’m supporting Karoline Leavitt for Congress is she is the strongest conservative in this race who will stand and fight,” Cruz told a healthy crowd of supporters of the 25-year-old Leavitt, who is a veteran of former President Trump’s White House press shop.
The most recent public opinion polls indicate that Leavitt is one of the co-frontrunners in the Sept. 13 Republican primary in New Hampshire’s First Congressional District, which has long been a highly contested swing House district.
The seat is currently held by two-term Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas, whom Republicans view as vulnerable amid a political climate that for the past year had favored the GOP. Republicans need a net gain of just five seats in the 435-member House in November’s midterms to back the chamber’s majority they lost in the 2018 elections.
“I think this is a great opportunity, number one, to flip the House. This seat is a winnable seat. I believe Caroline is going to win on Tuesday. And win in November. But number two, to flip the Senate as well. New Hampshire has two pivotal swing seats,” Cruz told Fox News as he looked to the race in the First District as well as the state’s Senate race, where Republicans view former governor and first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan as vulnerable as she runs for re-election.
Leavitt — a New Hampshire native who following the end of the Trump administration briefly worked for GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who is now the number three ranking House Republican — is part of a Republican primary field that also includes Matt Mowers, a former New Hampshire GOP executive director who worked on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and served in the State Department during the Trump administration. Mowers captured the 2020 congressional nomination in the district before losing to Pappas by five points in the general election.
An average of the most recent public polling indicates Mowers with a slight edge over Leavitt, with Gail Huff Brown — a former longtime TV news reporter and wife of former Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who served as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand during the Trump administration — in third place but gaining ground. The surveys also indicated former state senator and executive councilor Russell Prescott and state Rep. Tim Baxter are in the single digits.
The battle between Leavitt and Mowers has been one to the right, with both showcasing their Trump administration experience. However, Mowers does not go as far as Leavitt when it comes to Trump’s 2020 election loss to President Biden. Leavitt is a firm support of the former president’s unproven claims that last election was “rigged” with “massive voter fraud” and “stolen.”
“I’m proud to be the home-grown America First candidate in this race,” touted the 25-year old Leavitt, who would become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress if she wins the primary and again in November.
Mowers, who has been the front-runner for most of the year, has repeatedly taken incoming fire from Leavitt, Huff Brown and Baxter. While Leavitt turned up the volume of her attacks targeting Mowers in recent weeks, he has not reciprocated to the same degree.
“I’m the only tested conservative in this race with solutions to the challenges we face,” Mowers said on Twitter Friday as he continued to keep his focus on blasting President Biden and Pappas.
However, Mowers is getting a major intra-party boost courtesy of big bucks from the nation’s capital that have poured into the district.
Mowers, who in June was endorsed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who are the top two Republicans in the chamber, is being backed by a seven-figure ad buy from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a powerful super PAC aligned with the House GOP leaders. Additionally, another outside Republican group — the more moderate Defending Main Street Super PAC, has spent more than $1 million to blast Leavitt on the airwaves.
“The establishment in Washington is viciously smearing me with $5 million in attack ads,” Leavitt claimed.
Democrats say the combative GOP primary will hurt Republican chances in the general election.
“This GOP primary’s race to the right has fractured the party and weakened any Republican nominee in the general. Their MAGA Republican nominee will be unable to scrub the far-right, anti-abortion positions they have chosen to stake out,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson James Singer told Fox News.
The attacks and counter-attacks involving Leavitt and Mowers and their allies may open the door to Huff Brown, who grabbed attention the past couple of weeks with a TV ad on the combustible issue of abortion where she spotlighted her personal and emotional experience in a high-risk pregnancy and her support for “choice.”
“In Congress, I’ll vote to protect the New Hampshire law, and the choice it guarantees,” Huff Brown says at the end of her spot. With Leavitt, Mowers, and the rest of the GOP primary field taking a harder anti-abortion stance, Huff Brown may appeal to last minute and less ideological Republican and independent voters.
The rally for Leavitt, held at an American Legion post in a Republican town in southern New Hampshire, was Cruz’s only stop during his quick trip to the Granite State.
“I love the fierce, freedom loving independence, the flinty New England strength,” Cruz told the crowd as he stood next to Leavitt. “New Hampshire, you are warriors. And you understand the value of standing and fighting.”
The trip by Cruz to New Hampshire — which for a century has held the first presidential primary in the race for the White House — will further fuel speculation that Cruz is moving towards launching a second national campaign. The conservative firebrand was runner-up to Trump in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Last month, Cruz visited Iowa, the state that for a half century has kicked off the presidential nominating calendar through its caucuses. Cruz headlined a fundraiser for longtime GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is running for re-election this year. That trip followed an earlier August visit to Nevada, which votes fourth in the GOP primary and caucus schedule, where Cruz spoke in support of former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, the 2022 Senate nominee in the key battleground state.
When asked about the next White House race, Cruz told Fox News on Thursday that “there’ll be plenty of time for speculation about future elections. I understand how this process works.”
“My focus is on November of 2022,” the senator, who’s been crisscrossing the national campaign trail this year on behalf of fellow Republicans, reiterated. “2022 is a pivotal fork in the road.”
Cruz is not the only potential 2024 Republican presidential contender who has taken sides in New Hampshire’s First District primary.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to United Nations during the first two years of the Trump administration, is backing Mowers and rallied with him in New Hampshire earlier this year. Additionally, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas met with Mowers in New Hampshire last month. Mowers also enjoys the endorsement of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Meanwhile, major figures in the GOP who are allied with Trump — such as Stefanik, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah — are supporting Leavitt.
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