December 21, 2011: Speaker O'Brien Endorses Speaker Gingrich

Additional commentary by Timothy Horrigan; December 22, 2011

I liked Rep. Bill O'Brien when we were just fellow back-benchers, even though we disagreed on most issues. He is basically a good guy, in spite of his frequent Narcissus attacks. And he has generally treated me very decently, even though he did stick me on the Petitions & Redress Committee. But he has been a terrible Speaker of the House.

Newt Gingrich was, I hate to say it, an excellent Speaker of the House. But, he is an obnoxious human being on both the outside and the inside. It is easy to mock the fact that he was the one who was stuck with the dubious honor of O'Brien's endorsement. But for now I will just roll the video of Gingrich & O'Brien's December 21 Manchester "Town Hall" meeting which proved to be anything but the profoundly transformative event which Gingrich was expecting. It wasn't even a fiasco. It was simply anticlimatic, even if at one point (16 minutes or so into the video) Gingrich actually equates himself with Reagan. (I can't blame Newt: he was being endorsed by the legendary Speaker O'Brien. It is easy to get carried away at a moment like that— especially if you have a gift for hyperbole like Newt does.)

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There was a little more excitement earlier in the day. Speaker O'Brien flew out to Iowa to join Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen in honoring Newt. The event was marred by several hecklers, who stomped around behind the speakers' dias for a minute or two, and even knocked over a flag. The hecklers have been characterized as "Occupy" protestors, even though one of them seemed to be yelling something about abortion (and bore some resemblance to anti-choice radical Randall Terry.).


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In advance of the Town Hall, the liberal group Granite State Progress released the following slanted but amusing press release.  (I think Zandra Rice Hawkins asked one of the questions at the December 21 town meeting, but she was off-camera so I can't be sure.  It sounded like her voice, for sure.):


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Q's for the Day: Will Speaker Gingrich Embrace NH Speaker Bill O'Brien's Failed Approach?

Select questions to ask following NH House Speaker's endorsement

Manchester, NH— NH Speaker of the House Bill O'Brien is formally endorsing former Speaker Newt Gingrich today in Iowa and New Hampshire. The NH Speaker is an embattled leader in state government, having lost every special election (four) in the state so far this year, and increasingly coming under fire from even fellow Republicans for his extreme partisan agenda.

Criticisms of O'Brien's approach sound strikingly similar to those of Gingrich, judging by comments from Republican legislators who served under him. Where do the similarities end? Questions to ask following today's endorsement:

Will Speaker Gingrich follow Speaker O'Brien's approach to governing by instituting an ideological purity test within his own party?


Speaker Bill O'Brien tossed one of the most conservative members of the New Hampshire House— Rep. Gary Hopper (R-Weare), a man whose legislative picture has him standing in front of a "Don't Tread on Me" flag— off his committee chair assignment for voting against a single, favored bill of the Speaker's that would hurt middle class workers in New Hampshire. It's a regular practice of O'Brien to pull his own Republicans off committees unless they fall exactly in-line with his extreme ideology.

Is Newt Gingrich going to let special interest money write his policy like Speaker Bill O'Brien?


Speaker O'Brien famously came back from a trip to Washington DC this summer and disrupted budget talks to insist that a tobacco tax decrease be inserted into the nearly completed budget. The ten-cent cut in the cigarette tax has wreaked havoc on New Hampshire's revenue line. What Big Tobacco asked for, O'Brien delivered.

Is Newt Gingrich going to work hand in hand with ALEC like O'Brien?


Whether it was the Right to Work for Less bill or the voter suppression bill that O'Brien pushed earlier this year, he has been taking carbon copies of legislation from Koch brother's funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and introducing them here in NH. And like Gingrich, his verbal slip-ups haven't won him any favors, including saying kids are too young and liberal to vote.

And, most important: Is Speaker Gingrich going to get help from the same Speaker O'Brien who has suffered 4 devastating losses in special elections, including one in his own district?


Bill O'Brien's extreme agenda has resulted in 4 devastating losses for his backed candidates in state house special elections this year. Not least of which was the special election held within his own district— one of the most conservative leaning in the state— where O'Brien's candidate lost by 20 percentage points. With Speaker Gingrich sliding in the polls, the last thing he needs is help from a divisive politician who hasn't delivered one election since he's been in office.


Rep. Gary Hopper:

Tobacco Tax:

Voter Suppression:

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The Forgotten Liars