In case you missed it,
Senator Ayotte will be speaking at the GOP convention in Tampa on Tuesday with Hudson business owner Jack Gilchrist of the “These Hands” video.
Ayotte, Hudson business owner to speak at Republican National Convention
By Kevin Landrigan
August 21, 2012
Hudson business owner Jack Gilchrist will be in the national spotlight next week, as he is slated to take the stage Tuesday for a prime time address at the Republican National Convention with U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.
Ayotte told The Telegraph Tuesday that she and Gilchrist, the owner of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating, would address the convention Tuesday. The convention is being held in Tampa and opens Monday.
Gilchrist has been an outspoken supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, even appearing in a televsion ad for the presumptive GOP nominee. In the ad, Gilchrist accused Obama of “demonizing” small business owners.
Gilchrist said Tuesday he first was asked about speaking to the convention a week ago and the engagement was firmed up last Friday.
“I was in a web video that nobody watched that snowballed into a TV ad for the Romney campaign and then a whole lot of positive and negative reaction that followed,” Gilchrist said. “I could never have imagined the last six weeks and this speech is kind of a surreal continuation to it all.”
Gilchrist said part of his remarks will be to appeal to Americans across the ideological spectrum to engage in a constructive dialogue.
The theme of Tuesday night’s program is “We Built It,” seizing upon a July remark from President Barack Obama. Romney has hammered on Obama’s comments, saying the president gave government too much credit in how businesses grow.
“The reality is the great uniter has been anything but that,” said Gilchrist, a registered independent voter, referring to President Obama. “I hope that I connect with people about civil discourse and how important it is to have it. I know what happens to my company when we don’t talk to one another and that is it falls apart.
“To me at least, that’s part of what has gone wrong in this country.”
At the convention, Ayotte will speak for seven minutes and then introduce Gilchrist.
“Obviously this issue is so important to New Hampshire and I’ve always felt that small business has been the driving engine of New Hampshire’s economy,” Ayotte said during a telephone interview. “I am married to a small business owner so I have a personal connection to it as well. We live that at home.”
Ayotte said she’s excited about having a key part at the first nominating convention she’s ever attended, this one as a junior U.S. senator who made media short lists of potential running mates for Romney.
Obama has said his comments that business owners “didn’t build that” and should give more credit to government assistance, made at a rally in Roanoke, Va., were taken out of context. Romney continues to harp on the quote as he did again on Monday while campaigning at Saint Anselm College.
Ayotte’s husband, Joe Daley, owns a landscaping and snow plowing business.
The Romney campaign approached Ayotte about speaking on this topic, she agreed and it was made clear the speech would be her own, Ayotte said.
“Every senator who gets asked to speak no doubt has more than one issue of interest and that’s the case for me,” Ayotte said. “I’m passionate about the federal debt, national security and our military but getting small business owners to have confidence to grow and invest is critical to our future.”
Victory New Hampshire Campaign Director Tommy Schultz said Ayotte and Gilchrist were a natural pairing, noting Ayotte recently hosted a Romney campaign event at the Hudson business.
“We’re really excited about this. Senator Ayotte and Jack are good friends and it’s a perfect opportunity for both of them to go on stage and drive home this important message.”
A Democratic National Committee spokesman said this promises to be one of the most ultra-conservative GOP conventions in modern times.
“Rather than stand up against this extremism, we expect to hear more of the out-of-touch agenda Senator Ayotte has touted while serving as a mouth piece for Mitt Romney’s campaign,” Regional Press Secretary Kevin Harris said in a statement.
Based upon the tentative schedule, Ayotte and Gilchrist should be speaking between 8-9 p.m. The Romney campaign is planning to sponsor a convention watching party in the Nashua area.
Preceding Ayotte to the podium will be former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, one of Romney’s most serious competitors during the 2012 primary season.
The keynote speaker wrapping up the program is N.J. Gov. Chris Christie. Others on tap include Lousian Gov. Bobby Jindal, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
After Gilchrist starred in the Romney ad, published reports confirmed that his company had received a six-figure, Small Business Administration loan, tax-exempt bonds that helped the firm expand and some small government contracts.
“I’m not going to turn a blind eye because the money came from the government. As far as I’m concerned, I’m getting some of my tax money back,” Gilchrist said at the time. “I’m not stupid, I’m not going to say no. Shame on me if I didn’t use what’s available.”
Gilchrist has remained in the spotlight, appearing at a Romney campaign press conference in Concord and last week at his business with State Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro.
After his TV ad appeared, Gilchrist reported to Hudson police that he received two harassing telephone calls and hundreds of negative emails.
The Romney campaign accused Obama’s campaign of fanning the outrage towards Gilchrist; the Obama camp denied having any involvement in it.
Ayotte said Obama’s statement struck a nerve but she hears more from business owners complaints about federal regulations from Washington.
She met with two hotel owners in the Lakes Region Tuesday upset about a regulation that’s since been tabled or stayed that would have required hotel pools to install permanent lifts for disabled swimmers.
Ayotte said many owners prefer removable lifts they offer to hotel guests who are physically impaired especially if the resort has more than one pool.
“What I keep hearing is that Washington is definitely not seen as a partner to small business but an obstacle,” Ayotte said. “These kind of absurd regulations hit small business owners even harder because they can’t hire an army of laywers or experts to fight them.”