PORTSMOUTH - Dozens of liberal and liberty-minded protesters lined the entrance to the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel Thursday night to send messages to former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, prior to his formal announcement there that he is an official Senate candidate.
The carpetbagger theme was common among liberals, while conservatives said they were looking for a GOP candidate with broader support for the Second Amendment.
John “JJ” Joyal, a Portsmouth Naval Shipyard worker and chairman of the Somersworth Democratic party, waved American and state flags.
“I'm here to show Scott Brown what the state of New Hampshire flag looks like, in case he's never seen one,” Joyal said, referring to Brown's dual-state residency. “We already have a good senator. Jeanne Shaheen is as good as it gets.”
Ray Buckley, chairman of the state Democratic party, came to Portsmouth for the event and said he “agrees with most people in New Hampshire that Scott Brown is for Scott Brown.”
“He has a record of standing up for Wall Street and big corporate interests and that's why Massachusetts rejected him two years ago and why New Hampshire will reject him,” Buckley said.
Asked why he traveled from Manchester to the Brown kick-off event, Buckley said, “We welcome all tourists.”
Caroline French came from Dover to hold a sign reading, “Senate Blue, Not Brown.” She said she stood outside the downtown hotel with her sign in support of Shaheen.
“She is beloved in New Hampshire,” said French. “We love her.”
Seacoast Republican leader Doug Scamman stopped to greet French on the sidewalk, where they exchanged pleasantries about being high school classmates some years ago. Scamman was an invited VIP at the event and said he was glad to show his support for Brown.
Across the street, Joan Webber held a sign reading, “Scott Brown is a twerp.”
“First, he was in Massachusetts, and loses there, then, he changes his mind and comes here,” said the Kensington resident. “I think it's silly.”
“He lives in Rye,” a woman shouted out her car window while driving by.
Dan Fournier, a University of New Hampshire student, held a sign reading, “Patriots for Shaheen.” He said Brown wants to “eviscerate” college grants and that if it wasn't for grants, he'd be unable to go to the university.
Portsmouth and Seacoast Democratic party president Larry Drake made a sign that read, “Big Oil (heart logo) Scott Brown.”
“He does get a lot of backing from big oil and Wall Street,” said Drake, who rallied like-minded Democrats on his local radio show Thursday morning, urging them to attend the protest event.
Tristan Debree called Brown a carpetbagger and held a sign saying, “Scott Brown wants to confiscate your firearms.” He said conservatives, like him, want to “get rid of” Brown, “get a Republican who supports the Second Amendment,” and “then we can go after Shaheen.”
Constitutionalist group the Oath Keepers had representatives from New Hampshire and Connecticut. They held a Gadsen flag with the “Don't tread on me message” and described themselves as “liberty minded.”
“You can't buy us off for the Constitution,” said Oath Keeper Alex Bieniecki. “We're the Granite State 3-percenters. The 3 percent willing to stand up.”