BELMONT — "I love my country, I love my state and I love my kids," Rich Ashooh told members of the Belknap County Republican Committee this week, explaining his decision to make his second bid for 1st district congressional seat.
In 2010, Ashooh ran a strong third among eight candidates in the GOP primary won by Frank Guinta, who after losing the seat to Democrat Carol Shea-Porter in 2012 regained it 2014 and is seeking re-election this year.
Born and raised in Manchester and a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Ashooh brings an extensive resume to the race. He worked in the offices of two United States Senators — Gordon Humphrey and Warren Rudman — from whom he said he took a keen sense of the value of fiscal responsibility and discipline and the dangers of deficit spending and excessive debt.
Returning to New Hampshire, he served as a senior executive at BAE Systems, an aerospace manufacturer and the state's largest employer, where he oversaw the firm's relationships with federal and state government. During his tenure, he represented the company as a director of numerous business associations, including the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association and New England Council, and served on a steering committee of the National Association of Manufacturers.
At the same time, Ashooh has contributed his time to numerous educational and charitable organizations as a trustee of the University System of New Hampshire and Franklin Pierce University as well as a director of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and New Hampshire Public Television.
Most recently, Ashooh served as interim executive director of the Warren. B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Service at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, a position he relinquished to run for Congress. In an election season overshadowed by outsiders and insurgents, Ashooh boasts a record of professional experience, civic engagement and charitable service.
Ashooh began by taking aim at President Obama, who he said was "ill-suited to be commander-in chief." In particular, he said that the president was not trusted by either our military leaders or our closest allies and called the nuclear accord with Iran "disastrous." Nor, he said, was the president capable of restoring economic growth or dealing with unforeseen events.
Ashooh told his fellow Republicans that fiscal and economic policy would be among his highest priorities as a congressman.
"It's not just the deficits and the debt," he said, "but a culture of debt," which he said was fostered and encouraged by government policies. Tax policy, he called "outrageous," adding that he would apply himself to reforming the tax code.
Describing Obamacare as "a disaster," Ashooh said that while Republicans have called for its repeal they have failed to offer an alternative. "We have to be positive," he said.
Asked how he differed from Guinta, Ashooh replied by referring to his business experience, which would prepare him to tackle not only fiscal and economic issues but also challenges to national security, including the threat of terrorism. Then, alluding obliquely to the financial cloud over Guinta's first campaign, he took a page from the book of Jimmy Carter and said, "I'll never lie to you."
Together with Guinta and Ashooh, Pam Tucker of Greenland, who is serving her fourth term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, is also vying for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District.
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