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Updated: 8:57 p.m.
The new chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party on Tuesday was forced to issue a promise to remain neutral in the presidential contest after Tim Pawlenty supporters complained about comments a party official made to Roll Call questioning his conservative credentials.
State GOP Chairman Jack Kimball on Tuesday night defended Will Wrobleski, the party’s new executive director who told Roll Call he would not vote for Pawlenty in the first-in-the-nation primary.
“Roll Call reported today on comments made by Will Wrobleski at a recent event,” Kimball said. “I want to be very clear that these comments do not reflect my opinions, and at the time he made these remarks, Will did not work for the Republican Party, did not speak for me and did not speak for the New Hampshire Republican Party.”
Kimball then praised Pawlenty as having “an excellent record of strong, conservative leadership in Minnesota.”
In an interview with Roll Call during a Concord, N.H., reception for Pawlenty, Wrobleski knocked Pawlenty’s chances of capturing the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2012.
“He’s a nice guy. But there’s a number of guys I’d vote for. He’s not one of them,” Wrobleski said, a few days before taking the state party post. “I don’t think he’s conservative enough.”
A spokesman for Pawlenty’s Freedom First political action committee thanked Kimball for his promise Tuesday evening. “We appreciate the statement and are confident Chairman Kimball will do a terrific job leading the State Party in a fair and neutral way,” spokesman Alex Conant said in an e-mail. “The Governor looks forward to helping the NH GOP achieve their goals on future visits to the state.”
Meanwhile, a New Hampshire-based political consultant with ties to the former Minnesota governor called for Wrobleski to step down. Wrobleski is expected to serve as the state party’s top operative through the 2012 election cycle.