On November 1, 2007, NH Asks, a non-profit, non-partisan organization of NH citizens, commenced advertising its tough, but fair questions to 16 candidates for President from both parties in most of the daily and weekly newspapers in NH. The ads requested that each candidate provide straightforward and truthful answers to its questions. The candidate’s answers would then be published our website: www.nhasks.org and rated by voters and our directors for straightforwardness, truthfulness, and responsiveness, called our “STR rating”.
As stated by Nathaniel Gurien, Executive Director of NH Asks, Inc., “ The voters of New Hampshire have a right to a truthful and straightforward understanding of the positions, accomplishments, and policies of those who represent us, and those who seek to represent us.” “We believe,” as Thomas Jefferson stated, “for democracy to thrive, there must be an informed and vigilant citizenry.”
NH Asks’s mission statement is:
- To encourage and facilitate meaningful dialogue, interaction, and communications between elected representatives and their NH constituents, as well as between candidates for public office and NH voters;
- To encourage and facilitate straightforward and truthful disclosure to NH voters of the positions, accomplishments, and policies of candidates for public office;
- To encourage and promote the restoration of courtesy, decency, civility and respectfulness to our political discourse.
NH Asks also published ads in local NH newspapers with its questions for specific candidates welcoming them to the town to coincide with their visits.
In the end, NH Asks received complete and substantial answers from 4 candidates (Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, Joe Biden, and Mike Gravel) and published those answers in full-page ads the weekend before Primary Day in the Union Leader, Fosters, Portsmouth Herald, Nashua Telegraph, Concord Monitor and Conway, Berlin and Laconia Daily Sun.
NH Asks program gave candidates a unique opportunity to take substantial and considered positions on important issues. Unlike town-hall meetings, debates and press conferences, candidates could take the time to offer well-considered and consistent answers. The candidates who answered all took full advantage of this opportunity, and where awarded “10-star” STR ratings as a result.
In addition to providing voters with more clarity on candidates’ positions, NH Asks also provided candidates with the opportunity to clarify sometimes contradictory and inconsistent positions to better prepare them for the campaign beyond NH. “We felt that this was an important example of the contribution made by the citizens of NH, who take their civic responsibility in the election process and the nation’s 1st primary very seriously.” Nathaniel Gurien said.
Check out our website: www.nhasks.org for access to the complete archive of newspaper ads, press releases, candidate answers and ratings, as well as comments from voters from NH and around the country.
The www.nhasks.org website received over 25,000 website visits between November 1 and January 8, many as a result of its advertising on “Google AdWords”. An interesting statistic from that campaign is that fully 50% of those “click thru’s” came from people who searched for “Ron Paul”. All the rest of the candidates combined accounted for the other 50%. “We’ll be happy to share detailed stats and data with any interested media or campaign when they contact us.” says Nathaniel Gurien.
So what’s next for NH Asks? Mr. Gurien replies, “We’re planning to produce an ongoing series of TV programs where Federal, State & County elected officials take an hour or two to report to their constituents on the pending business and issues before their legislatures or boards. These moderated reports will be broadcast on the public-access (PEG) TV stations in those officials’ specific districts, and we will encourage and facilitate citizen feedback and participation via NH Asks’s website together with coordinated advertising. We hope to strengthen democracy in NH, and look forward to the enthusiastic participation of both our elected officials and the NH citizens they serve.”For additional information, suggestions, and contacts, visit: www.nhasks.org.