John Stephen, Kelly Ayotte and former Rep. Charlie Bass ’74 — the Republican candidates for N.H. governor, the state’s open Senate seat and the state’s 2nd congressional district seat in the House of Representatives, respectively — held a rally with their Upper Valley supporters at the Top of the Hop on Sunday afternoon. The rally was the first time all three top GOP candidates had been in the same room throughout the campaign, according to Danny Kim ’11, president of the Dartmouth College Republicans.
The candidates met with an audience of students, local politicians and community members — some dressed in camouflage — two days before Tuesday’s midterm elections.
They advocated cutting government spending and decreasing the size of the government, which Stephen referred to as “New Hampshire values.”
“They’re about limited government, less spending and more freedom,” he said. “That’s what we stand for.”
The expansion of the federal government to an “unprecedented” size is taking freedom away from Americans, Ayotte said. She added that she is in favor of a “smaller, more accountable government that adheres to the United States Constitution,” and that tax cuts are “critical.”
Stephen also came out against increased taxes, saying that he would “absolutely not” consider incorporating a state sales tax if his administration could not significantly cut costs in the state budget.
Ayotte criticized “politicians who went to Washington and stopped listening,” supported deficit spending and pushed for higher taxes, saying that they “stole the American dream.” She said Rep. Paul Hodes ’72, her Democratic opponent in the Senate race, has a record of voting in favor of increased spending, higher taxes and expanded government.
Bass emphasized change in his speech.
“In 48 hours, we’re going to change New Hampshire, and we’re going to change America,” he said. “We have been waiting for two years for these next two days. America wants change, and they want it now.”
All of the candidates emphasized the election’s national importance. Ayotte encouraged the audience to ignore recent poll results that show Hodes leading in the race and to continue supporting her campaign, as well as the campaigns of the other Republican candidates.
“We have to get out and make sure that [Bass] wins this election,” Ayotte said. “Because one of the first votes he’ll take as a member of Congress is who is going to be Speaker of the House, and we have to make sure that we retire Nancy Pelosi once and for all.”
Stephen emphasized his support for the other GOP candidates, as well as the election’s potential influence on the 2012 presidential elections.
“We are at that crossroad,” Stephen said. “Nov. 2, in my opinion, is more important than the election in 2012 because what happens in 2010 — Nov. 2 — will dictate in large part what happens in 2012.”
Stephen added that he believes he “won” a recent debate against incumbent Governor John Lynch, D-N.H.
“We may have won this debate, but we haven’t won this election yet,” Stephen said. “This election is two days away. This election is within our grasp.”
Kim said he expects more Republican voters to turn out for Tuesday’s election than went to vote in 2008.
“In 2008, there was certainly a big hype to be a Democrat and to carry those ideals that were advertised by the Obama campaign,” Kim said. “But this time, college students and local voters alike are more careful with their decision when it comes to voting, because they’re actually taking time to look at the issues and the current situation and compare that to the promises made in 2008.”
Kim said he was pleased with the turnout at Sunday’s rally, adding that the College Republicans will continue running phone banks over the next two days to rally support for the Republican candidates.