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NH Sees Clash of GOP Contenders        04/18 12:07

   Republicans already in the 2016 presidential race or thinking about it have 
swarmed New Hampshire for an early state showdown that has highlighted the 
diversity, challenges and size of the emerging field.

   NASHUA, N.H. (AP) -- Republicans already in the 2016 presidential race or 
thinking about it have swarmed New Hampshire for an early state showdown that 
has highlighted the diversity, challenges and size of the emerging field.

   About 20 politicians were on the program for a two-day conference hosted by 
the state GOP in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

   Speakers on Friday ranged from the party's elite to its longshots. Former 
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush delivered a standing-room-only speech while lesser-known 
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced himself to voters one at a time 
in the hallway.

   Bush pleaded for bipartisanship on a day when his moderate brand of politics 
was on display. He broke with many conservatives on the environment by 
declaring that "the climate is changing" and called for a path to legal status 
for immigrants in the country illegally.

   "The people who want to come here are driving for success," Bush said of 
such immigrants.

   He also criticized those who demonize their political adversaries. "I'm sick 
and tired of the political game where you push someone down to make yourself 
look better."

   The leader of the New Hampshire GOP, Jennifer Horn, said, "There's a new 
president coming, my friends."

   Praising the diversity of the Republican hopefuls, Horn said, "I'd like to 
also recognize at this time the broad, diverse, qualified field of candidates 
being offered by our friends in the Democratic Party, but I can't."

   Dominating the Democratic contest is Hillary Rodham Clinton, who began her 
campaign this past the week. The 67-year-old former first lady and secretary of 
state planned to campaign in New Hampshire next week.

   Just down the street from the Republican conference, a leading Democratic 
voice charged that all the Republican voices sound the same: "With all of their 
shared extreme views they might as well just be one," said Debbie Wasserman 
Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

   Yet divisions were on display among the Republican candidates.

   "We're not going to fix Washington by electing a president who is from 
Washington," said former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, offering a jab at the members 
of Congress eyeing the White House. "Change is only going to come from the 
outside, from my perspective, and so should the next president."

   Bush said the United States must team up with other countries to fight 
climate change, a departure from the position of most rivals and many others in 
the GOP.

   "We need to work with the rest of the world to find a way to reduce carbon 
emissions," he said. That won him praise from an unexpected quarter, Democratic 
billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, whose NextGen group issued a statement 
saying Bush demonstrated leadership on the issue and showed why "climate change 
doesn't have to be a partisan issue."

   Florida Sen. Marco Rubio reiterated the need for a new generation of 
leadership. If elected, the 43-year-old Rubio would be the third youngest 
American president.


(KA)


 
 
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