Sununu reiterates 1st-term record

NASHUA – In his last hours of stumping before Election Day, U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu told BAE Systems employees that his engineering background helps him analyze issues.

The Republican incumbent undoubtedly has used those analytical skills in a tight rematch against his Democratic challenger, former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. But on Monday, no amount of scrutiny would deny the need for Sununu to meet as many voters possible and impress upon them the achievements of his first term.

Sununu touted that one-on-one strategy several times at the defense contractor’s Spit Brook Road facility. “I’m always focused on the voters,” he said after a brief question-and-answer forum with employees. Canvassing “town to town is the only way to run.”

He dismissed reporters’ queries several times about polls and the slim lead Shaheen holds in many of them. He pointed to how the same pollsters predicted Sen. Barack Obama to beat Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary early this year but were wrong.

Yet, in an interview with a television reporter, Sununu revealed that he is in fact watching the polls.

When the reporter asked him about a poll that had Shaheen ahead by 8 percentage points, Sununu pressed the reporter to reveal which poll that was. He also asked the reporter to specify the percentages.

Sununu said the latest poll he saw had it as a 5-point race. Considering that poll’s margin of error, he said, it was a “dead-even” race.

In 2002, Sununu, then the 1st Congressional District representative, beat Shaheen in a close race for Senate.

Throughout the year, most polls have had Shaheen in a somewhat commanding lead, but with a week to go, Sununu started pulling within striking distance. On Monday, the latest University of New Hampshire tracking poll had 831 voters preferring Shaheen by a 48- to 42-percent margin, with a 3.4 percent margin of error.

Sununu predicted independents would swing his way after reviewing his track record, and they would choose him because this is an “election about leadership.”

To reporters, and later to BAE employees, he pointed to how he’s bucked the GOP on several issues that matter to his belief system and voters, including opposition to the Patriot Act until it contained necessary civil liberties protections.

“I’ve never shied away from tough legislation,” Sununu said.

When asked how he would legislate in a second term if Democrats pick up more seats in the Senate, Sununu said he has proven that he can lean across the aisle. He pointed to “nationally important” bills he crafted with Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy, among others.

Sununu credited BAE Systems with assisting the military in protecting the nation, and he asked employees for their votes.

Sununu also visited the facilities of Fidelity and GE Aerospace, and he planned to be a guest on conservative radio talk-show host Howie Carr’s afternoon program Monday, he said.