MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he'll announce whether he will launch a White House bid after November's elections, although his political committee is making very public plays in the state that hosts the first presidential primary.
Pawlenty sent six staffers from his Freedom First PAC here to help fellow Republicans turn out voters ahead of Tuesday's primary. The group will help at GOP campaign offices and deliver coffee — with Freedom First PAC stickers on the cups, of course — to campaign volunteers standing outside polling locations.
Pawlenty, who is leaving office in January, did not endorse primary candidates in New Hampshire, although he has been working to build a profile there. Pawlenty has visited the state several times as he weighs a presidential bid, but he trails former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in owed favors from the establishment.
EDITOR'S NOTE — An insider's view of this year's elections based on dispatches from around the nation.
Romney, who ran for president in 2008 and has a vacation home here, has helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for GOP candidates in the state and the state Republican Party. He, too, says he won't announce his plans until after November.
But it's clear that both men are jockeying to earn goodwill of party leaders and activists, whose endorsements matter should they face each other in the state's presidential primary.
New Hampshire Republicans have spent more than $9.5 million trying to retain the seat of retiring Sen. Judd Gregg, believing the winner of Tuesday's primary will have an edge in November.
Front-runner Kelly Ayotte, a 42-year-old former attorney general from Nashua, has spent $2 million to push a conservative, anti-federal spending agenda.
Multimillionaire businessman Bill Binnie, 52, of Rye spent more than $6 million — more than $5 million out of his own pocket — but political analysts believe Binnie hurt himself with television ads criticizing Ayotte too early, and Ayotte may have hurt herself by responding.
Manchester attorney Ovide Lamontagne may have been the biggest beneficiary of the back-and-forth attacks, despite spending only $400,000.
Millionaire businessman Jim Bender, 57, of Hollis added to the spending spree with almost $1 million, most of it his own money.
The winner faces Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes, who — though unopposed — has spent $2.5 million.
Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes said during a campaign stop that he'll be tough on illegal immigration no matter what the federal government thinks, saying, "Screw them."
Maes was speaking at a restaurant in Avon, Colo., when he made the comments Sunday. He said that as governor he would make sure a state law is enforced that prevents illegal immigrants from receiving public assistance without proper identification.
"We just need a leader with the courage to do that," Maes said. "I don't care what the federal government thinks about it. Screw them. We're going to do what's best for the people of Colorado."
Maes trails Democratic opponent John Hickenlooper badly in fundraising and the GOP has tried to get Maes to drop out of the race. The Vail Daily reports that Maes told people at Bob's Place in Avon that he's recently been "pulled into meetings" he thinks are for fundraising only to be told he needs to leave the race.
Former Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, who switched parties to run on the American Constitution Party ticket, is also seeking the governorship. He said he entered the race because he doesn't think Maes is a viable candidate and he wants to give conservatives another choice.
Republican Linda McMahon says she's running for the Senate so that more lunch boxes are back on job sites.
McMahon, a former wrestling executive, is standing in a pristine white kitchen in a new television ad and telling Connecticut voters, "We need this lunch box — and a lot more like it — back at work."
McMahon, who is trailing popular state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Chris Dodd, has pledged to spend $50 million of her own money. She has blanketed television stations with messages portraying herself as a savvy business executive.
"Washington has created the perfect job-killing storm with higher taxes, deficit spending and expensive health care mandates," McMahon says before alluding to her time at her family's World Wrestling Entertainment. "We need experienced job creators in Washington, not more job killers."
The ad, like most of her commercials, does not mention Blumenthal.
—Sarah Palin is lending her voice to Ayotte's Senate campaign in New Hampshire and Brian Murphy's bid for Maryland governor. The former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee is backing both candidates in primaries Tuesday.
—Rudy Giuliani supported Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk's Senate campaign by joining him to discuss gang crime in Chicago. The Republican candidate and the ex-mayor of New York teamed up Monday to call for greater cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement. Kirk is in a tough race against Illinois state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.
Associated Press writer Norma Love in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.