Meet the man who potential GOP presidential candidates want to meet
March 10th, 2011
07:52 AM ET
11 years ago

Meet the man who potential GOP presidential candidates want to meet

(CNN) - Ovide Lamontagne hopes his house is big and strong enough.

The New Hampshire attorney and long time Republican Party activist will host the second of his 2011 presidential house parties at his home Thursday in Manchester. The guest of honor will be former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who will most likely make some kind of Republican presidential announcement in the next few weeks.

"We have a full house expected for tomorrow, so I'm hoping that the house will stand the pressure of all the folks attending," Lamontagne told CNN Monday.

Around 150 people packed Lamontagne's home for his first house party in January, when he hosted former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, another probable GOP White House contender.

"So far the reception's been very good and very strong," said Lamontagne, who has become somewhat of a power player in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary.

Lamontagne, thanks in part to an outsider image and in part to strong support from Tea Party and other conservative activists, came extremely close to defeating former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte in last autumn's Republican primary for Senate. Ayotte, who had the backing of many from the state and national party establishment, and who also secured the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, went onto defeat Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes in November's general election.

Lamontagne, a former Republican gubernatorial nominee in New Hampshire, formed the Granite Oath PAC, through which he's holding these house parties, to provide voters with a chance to meet the probable 2012 Republican presidential candidates. He said he'll endorse a candidate before the primary, which is scheduled for early February.

While Lamontagne is a strong fiscal and social conservative, he said "in the end it's about the most conservative candidate who can win. That's the test that I'm applying in this election cycle. I don't think this is an election about ideological purity. Some primaries in New Hampshire have been about that, but not this one," adding that "this is about defeating Barack Obama in November of 2012."

When asked if he considers himself a Tea Party activist, Lamontagne instead said he's "been a Republican activist for 25 years," touting his stints as legal counsel to the state party and to the New Hampshire state Senate, as well as his winning the 1996 GOP nomination for governor. But he said he would consider himself "to be consistent with a lot of the constitution based principles that motivate many Tea Party activists."

Lamontage is also considered an early contender for next year's gubernatorial election.

"I've received a strong expression of support from individuals and groups and a lot of encouragement to run for governor and I'd have to say I'm seriously looking at it, but I haven't made any decisions at this point," he said, adding that no decisions will be made until after next year's presidential primary.

As for talk of him being a king maker in New Hampshire conservative circles, Lamontagne answers modestly that "I don't see myself as any more important than anyone else frankly. I just know that I'm engaged, I'm resonating right now with a lot of people in New Hampshire and this might be the time where true conservatives are going to be able to emerge and be successful."

He said that two other probable Republican presidential candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. and 2008 GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney have expressed interest in attending house parties.

And as for the house, Lamontagne said "it's actually the home I grew up in. I'm the oldest of eight kids and people who come remark that there's no furniture. That's because we had to move most of the chairs and tables down to the basement and make it as open as possible so people can move around, grab something to drink and meet the candidates."

- Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: 2012 • New Hampshire • Rick Santorum • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Indy

    Anytime Pawlenty is speaking you need to bring a pillow and blanket for the snoozefest. He is the greatest person to listen to if you want to go to sleep real fast.

    March 10, 2011 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  2. Seattle Sue

    I don't think his house is big enough for Pawlenty's ego.

    March 10, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  3. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Funny thing, when a Democrat holds a "conference" like this, they get hammered on Faux News and Drudge for it.

    March 10, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  4. Chumlee

    Pawlenty – "guest of honor" – who would invite this nut job to anything!!

    March 10, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  5. Marie MD

    There is not going to be enough Lysol to clear the smell of the pawman!!!!
    Fumigating the house might help thou!

    March 10, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |