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The Nashua Telegraph: Healthcare legislation spurs continued debate

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By KEVIN LANDRIGAN

Staff Writer

 

A new conservative advocacy group fired the first shot of the 2014 race for a U.S. Senate seat Wednesday, attacking incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., for her support of the Affordable Care Act.

 

The 30-second spot titled “What to Cut” identifies Shaheen as the “deciding vote” for the Affordable Care Act.

 

It features members of a family each getting a sliver of hamburger, a swig of milk and single potato chip as their meal due to higher costs blamed on the national health insurance overhaul.

 

 

“Now, employers may cut your weekly work hours from 40 to 29 to avoid the new taxes and penalties. Fewer hours. Less money. Tougher times. Tell Sen. Shaheen you can’t afford ObamaCare,” a narrator says.

 

Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire financed the $110,000 advertising buy for the commercial now airing on WMUR-TV and cable outlets.

 

Only a few hours later, Shaheen launched her own fundraising email, marketing herself as a target and vowing to vanquish her enemies as she did in winning the Senate seat in 2008.

 

“This is only the beginning,” Shaheen wrote. “Groups like this one and Karl Rove’s will spend millions to twist words and bend truths.”

 

“We’re still a year and a half from Election Day. The endless attack campaign by the GOP is why even Jeb Bush said the party has no positive agenda. New Hampshire voters deserve better.”

 

Veteran GOP strategist Mike Biundo is heading up Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, along with Kristin Beaulieu, after both worked on presidential campaigns in 2012 for Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, respectively.

 

“With skyrocketing health care premiums, New Hampshire is already feeling the pain from Sen. Shaheen’s deciding vote for Obamacare,” Biundo said in a statement. “Unfortunately for Granite Staters, the worse may be yet to come.”

 

Shaheen has defended the national health care law while raising some questions about its implementation during closed-door meetings of Senate Democrats, according to published reports.

 

Democratic Party Communications Director Harrell Kirstein said this attack will fail with New Hampshire voters.

 

“It’s a year and a half until Election Day, and Republicans already are resorting to phony attacks in negative ads funded by right-wing conservatives,” Kirstein said. “The people of New Hampshire aren’t buying it.”

 

“Only the Republicans want to go back and refight the health care battle. Everybody else knows health care reform is expanding coverage and reducing costs here and across the country. In New Hampshire, 93 percent of small businesses already provide health care coverage. The people of New Hampshire know Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and they know she’s on their side, fighting for middle-class families and small businesses.”

 

But state and national GOP leaders believe surveys and public comment reveal that Obama’s health care law could be a drag on support for Shaheen, who remains popular in her own right.

 

A near-majority, 49 percent, of New Hampshire adults oppose the law, while 34 percent favor it and 17 percent are neutral or don’t know enough about it, according to a poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center last month.

 

Last week, former Republican state Sen. Jim Rubens, of Hanover, became the first GOP figure to publicly explore a run. Senate Majority Leader and ex-Congressman Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, has traveled around the state talking with activists about the race.

 

Defeated Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, whose family has long owned a vacation home in Rye, has not ruled out running against Shaheen in New Hampshire next year.

 

Ironically, while Shaheen is the senator up for re-election next year, her colleague, Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, of Nashua, has been the target over her vote against expanded background checks.

 

The gun control-backing group Mayors Against Illegal Guns aired its fourth Ayotte attack ad earlier this week, and pro- and anti-Ayotte special-interest groups have spent more than $1 million apiece on their campaigns.

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