Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

N.H. Craves 2012 Action as Campaigns Bloom Late

Steve Peoples/Roll Call
Ovide Lamontagne, among New Hampshire’s most powerful conservative voices, said he and the rest of the state’s Republican activists were anxious to begin the 2012 cycle.

Asked about Romney, McGuire said she’s not “inclined to be in his camp,” largely because of Massachusetts’ health care overhaul under his watch.

“He’s got a solid bloc. People know him,” McGuire said of Romney. “But a lot of people who are more conservative-leaning are looking for somebody else.”

Indeed, Lamontagne, a 2008 Romney backer, has yet to settle on a contender.

“The activists who have come of age in this last cycle are very energized now about the presidential process, and they’re not committed,” he said while glancing at the glossy menu inside Manchester’s famed Red Arrow Diner last week.

There’s little doubt that Lamontagne’s endorsement could be influential.

Moments after he had settled into a booth, Lamontagne was recognized by a patron. “Are you going to run again?” a man in an adjacent booth shouted, adding: “I hope so.”

Lamontagne laughed it off, noting that the Republican base, especially newly engaged voters, are more excited than ever.

He has already met privately with Santorum and Pawlenty, but he said he isn’t convinced. Lamontagne suggested Huckabee has the potential to catch fire with conservatives but added that no one’s seen him in the state.

Between bites of an unusually large salad, he offered a bit of advice to prospective candidates: “It’s not early in New Hampshire.”

“The train is leaving the station when it heads out of the Iowa and starts heading here. And if you’re not on it in New Hampshire, you’re not going to have legs.”

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