NH GOP - John McCain Saved NH Primary

"Given the odds against New Hampshire, what made the difference and turned around our uphill fight to keep our first-in-the-nation primary? The answer is very simple: John McCain."
Steve Duprey, New Hampshire GOP Chairman

"John McCain Saved NH Primary"
Steve Duprey
Union Leader
September 9, 2008

As Granite Staters' thoughts and prayers are rightfully with the people of the Gulf Coast or their neighbors with storm-damaged homes right here in New Hampshire, most are probably unaware that last week's Republican National Convention was nothing short of historic for New Hampshire. For the first time since the advent of the modern primary, the Republican National Committee formally adopted a rule that would specifically protect the first in the nation status for the New Hampshire primary.

This means that other than New Hampshire and South Carolina, no state may hold a primary or a caucus in which delegates are awarded before the first Tuesday in February 2012. Therefore, New Hampshire will be allowed to hold its primary on or after the third Tuesday in January 2012.

Being on the Republican National Rules Committee for a number of years, I have seen up close the increasing assaults from other states to try to have our unique status revoked. While those of us in New Hampshire have a tendency to think that the rest of the country should appreciate what a fine job we do in not only organizing our primary but in the seriousness with which Granite Staters take our role in choosing a primary winner, most other states disagree. Behind the scenes, they often do so vociferously, to the point at which during the lead up to this year's convention, New Hampshire faced the very real prospect that we could lose our first-in-the-nation primary status.

Given the odds against New Hampshire, what made the difference and turned around our uphill fight to keep our first-in-the-nation primary? The answer is very simple: John McCain.

Unlike in past years (most notably 1996 and 2000 when floor fights were threatened over the issue and various campaign leaders asked New Hampshire to stand down rather than risk a floor fight), this year John McCain made a clear and unequivocal stand that he would do everything in his power to institutionalize the first-in-the-nation primary.

And he did. He gave his floor leaders clear and firm instructions to not yield on the first-in-the-nation primary issue. When other states tried to change or press the issue, these floor leaders did, in fact, hold firm, knowing they had the full political weight of John McCain behind them.

While the New Hampshire delegation and rules committee members had a strong and unified voice and New Hampshire GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen used all his considerable diplomatic and political skill on the matter, that New Hampshire was able to withstand a concerted onslaught by other states is mostly due to the firm resolve of John McCain.

If you compare the efforts that John McCain made for New Hampshire with those of the Democratic nominee for President, the contrast could not be clearer. Rather than standing firm to protect New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, Barack Obama punted and simply said he would speak to Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, about the issue.

The actions of the two presidential candidates on this issue of such importance to New Hampshire provides an insightful window into the two presidential candidates' leadership styles and abilities and the degree to which they back up their words and promises with actions.

John McCain's resilience and his following through on his word have led to a big win for our primary and the principles it represents for us. In a broader sense, this is a major victory for New Hampshire as a whole.

Steve Duprey was a Republican convention delegate on the RNC Rules Committee and is former New Hampshire GOP chairman. He is an adviser to the McCain campaign.

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