Milford, N.H. — The campaigning never ends, even among the giant pumpkins and blowing leaves of a small-town pumpkin festival.
Rep. Paul Hodes (D) wove through the food stands and craft tents for nearly two hours Sunday morning, his wife at his side and New Hampshire’s notoriously fickle voters all around.
Between shaking hands and chatting politics with locals, the Senate hopeful lashed out at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which disclosed plans last week to spend $1 million in his contest against former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R).
“Here’s the Chamber of Commerce, which lobbied Congress for health care, lobbied Congress for the Recovery Act, and now has the audacity to go on the air and put up commercials against me for voting for the Recovery Act and for health care,” he said.
He also seized on a recent accusation by ThinkProgress, a website affiliated with the progressive Center for American Progress, that the chamber was using foreign corporate dues to pay for its political operations. Chamber officials have dismissed the attacks.
“It could very well be that foreign money’s coming in to try to trample the voice of democracy,” Hodes said. “That’s a sad state of affairs.”
He added: “Kelly Ayotte now has the endorsement of the Chamber of Commerce, the duplicitous, hypocritical Chamber of Commerce. She’s happy to accept their endorsement. She should call on them to disclose who’s behind them or call on them to take their ads down.”
When notified of Hodes’ comments, Ayotte campaign spokesman Jeff Grappone responded: “Congressman Hodes is the real hypocrite here. When the liberal attack machine, MoveOn.org, recently ran ads targeting Kelly, Hodes looked the other way. He does not want to talk about his record of support for more spending and higher taxes, so he has to engage in these political games. Paul Hodes knows that his votes for bigger, more intrusive government are front and center in this race. And they will remain so.”
Hodes’ attacks against the chamber mirror those by other Democratic candidates and President Barack Obama in recent days. They have been joined by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser for Hodes in Boston on Monday evening.
Hodes and Ayotte, who appeared at a recent candidate forum, will square off in their first formal debate Monday afternoon, and the chamber issue is likely to come up.