Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., will travel to New Hampshire as an officially declared presidential candidate.
STRATHAM — When actor and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson visits New Hampshire for the first time as an announced presidential candidate, he will do so in a setting familiar to noteworthy Republicans.
The Scamman Farm, owned by longtime Republican mainstays Stella and former Speaker of the House Doug Scamman, has been visited by notables such as Presidents George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush and numerous U.S. congressman, senators and state legislators. Thompson will join that list when he attends the eighth annual Chili Fest on Saturday at the 69 Portsmouth Ave. farm, hosted by Seacoast Republican Women.
"He's excited to come here and campaign in New Hampshire," said former New Castle state Rep. Dan Hughes, who is helping Thompson. "It'll be the first time he's in the state as an announced candidate, and he's looking forward to it. He recognizes how important New Hampshire is. That's why he's coming here."
Thompson, who will officially announce his candidacy today, has spent only one day in the state since his name was rumored as a potential candidate at the beginning of the summer. His announcement tour will start with a two-day trip to Iowa on Sept. 6, then head to New Hampshire, where his first stop will be on the Seacoast.
Hughes said Thompson will most likely arrive midway through the event, which goes from 4 to 7 p.m. When he's there, he's expected to make a speech, serve chili and meet many of the leading Republicans in the state.
"He'll speak, he'll handshake and he'll eat chili, like the rest of us," said Hughes. "It's very traditional. Everybody from President Bush on down has come there. It's a good event, it's a fun event and it's a little less formal."
Because Thompson was not expected to officially announce until today, he could not participate in Wednesday's Republican debate at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore Center.
He instead was scheduled to appear on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," which ruffled the feathers of New Hampshire GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen, who thought he should announce sooner and debate.
The Seacoast Republican Women were excited with the news that Thompson would attend.
President Leann Moccia said all presidential candidates are invited, but Thompson is the only candidate that has confirmed thus far. Last year, then Congressman Jeb Bradley, Sen. John E. Sununu and former White House Chief of Staff and Gov. John H. Sununu and several state and local candidates spooned chili for attendees and talked politics, leading up to the elections.
"We definitely encourage all candidates to attend and we're always excited when our potential next president is at our event," said Seacoast Republican Women chairwoman Gail Giarrusso. "It's always very exciting."
GO & DO
What: Seacoast Republican Women 8th annual Chili Fest.
Where: Scamman farm, at 69 Portsmouth Ave., in Stratham
When: Saturday, Sept. 8, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Cost: $5 per person. The event is open to the public.
Details: Contact membership chairwoman Gail Giarrusso at 775-7085 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
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