LACONIA — With six declared or potential Republican presidential candidates saying they will be on board for Belknap County Republican Committee's dinner cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee, party activists are optimistic that the committee's one major annual fund-raiser will be a sell-out.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is the latest candidate to confirm, County Republican Chairman Alan Glassman reported yesterday. Others who have promised to attend are Wisconsin Gov., Scott Walker, former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
Glassman said 200 tickets for the cruise on Friday, May 29, on the MS Mount Washington have been sold so far. The ticket sales will be capped at 450, a goal which he strongly felt will be attained.
Glassman said Walker's strong showing in recent polls should build interest in the cruise. Walker finished way ahead of other Republican candidates in a poll of likely Iowa voters conducted earlier this month. In that poll Walker got the support of 21 percent of likely Hawkeye State voters. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul were tied for second with 13 percent, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz got 12 percent.
A couple other candidates, who Glassman declined to identify, are looking to see if they could fit an appearance on the cruise into their schedules. He said that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who made a brief campaign stop in Tilton yesterday, would not be able to attend because of another commitment.
While each candidate will have a chance to make a brief speech, Glassman said the candidates needed see the cruise as a change to make the most of meeting potential supporters one-on-one. "This is really a grass-roots event," he said.
Glassman also said he was happy that the candidates who will be attending are diverse, both in terms of their backgrounds and political ideology. For example, he noted that Walker stresses conservative themes, while Pataki takes more moderate positions.
Because New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary is an open primary, where Independent voters can choose either a Republican or Democratic party ballot, the candidates must be able to appeal to more than just Republican voters. "They've got to appeal more than just Republicans if they want to win the Republican primary."
Glassman said that party supporters from as far away of New Jersey are planning to make the cruise.
Cruise tickets cost $50. Proceeds will help to fund Republican campaigns, in both major and more local races. "The money we make at this year's and next year's cruises will be the money that we will be able to put into this effort," said Glassman.
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