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Obama Visit Brings Protestors, Selectmen Clashes

The massive weekend gathering at WHS brought out both controversy and Romney supporters.

It was a surreal scene at Windham High School for this Saturday's visit from President Barack Obama, as 2,300 visitors squeezed into the toasty gymnasium for the appearance.

But while so many came to see Obama speak, there was an icier greeting for the motorcade just off Exit 3, as dozens of residents packed outside A.J. Letizio Sales & Marketing to protest the Democratic leader.

All of the protestors lined Route 111, many holding signs supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

A giant sign draped near the entrance for the business was emblazoned with what has become a trademark phrase for the Romney camp, the taunting "We Did Build It."

Other signs read "Obama isn't working" and "Defeat Obama."

That Romney support from Windham residents came in advance of today's scheduled appearance by both the GOP hopeful and his new running mate Paul Ryan in Manchester.

Controversy still hasn't subsided on the financial side of the Obama visit, as Windham Selectmen have not agreed on whether the town will deal with the public safety expenses itself or bill the campaign.

Selectman Vice Chairman Ross McLeod said this weekend that since there has yet to be a vote, his fellow board member Bruce Breton "overstepped his authority" when he said that Windham will bill the campaign.

McLeod issued a statement regarding the media attention of Breton's initial comments:

To be clear, Bruce Breton had zero authority to present his personal opinion to anyone as though it were an action by the Board of Selectmen/Town. He abused his position, and it's a shame that the media accepted and printed - front page, no less, his statement without any apparent questioning that would have immediately shown it to be not true.

McLeod added that the town has "historically welcomed presidential candidates without ever raising an issue regarding reimbursement." He referenced recent visits from Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

He also called Obama's visit a "great honor and privilege for Windham," and that he would welcome Romney were he to visit the town.

"I believe in the value of welcoming and encouraging discourse and discussion on the issues," McLeod said.

As it currently stands, Selectman Kathleen DiFrusica was the only board member who didn't publicly say she is leaning one way or another on the issue. DiFruscia told Windham Patch on Aug. 17 that she will wait to listen to the arguments of her fellow board members.

The rest of the board is split on the issue, with Breton and Phil LoChiatto believing the town should bill the campaign, and Roger Hohenberger saying that he is leaning in favor of McLeod's stance of the town paying itself.

DiFruscia did admonish Breton's public comments along with McLeod, saying she took exception to his decision to "unilaterally speak for the board" on the issue.

In a statement to the Eagle Tribune late last week, Breton said the decision to bill the campaign "is what it is" but that he would wait to hear what other board members think.

At that time, he said an emergency meeting would be called if there were differences in opinion.

McLeod said the board doesn't need to go that far on the matter.

"There is absolutely no need for an emergency meeting," he said. "Any such action can take place at a later regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen."

Town Administrator Dave Sullivan has indicated that a vote on the public safety dollars will likely take place at the board's next meeting on Aug. 27.

The cost for Saturday's emergency management needs has been estimated at $5,000 to $6,000.

One Man Wolf Pack August 20, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Weather you think he is terrible or not is absolutely irrelevant; that is the background noise to the topic of the article. ALL politicians holding campaign events should pay for the expenses incurred by the town for those events, and that is the minimum! I am of the mind that they should pay the town such that the town makes a profit rather than just meet expenses!
Truth Be Told August 20, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Breton's comment . . . it is what it is. . isn't what it is!
Paul Jacobs August 21, 2012 at 03:03 AM
It is funny to watch the two hard core democrats, Kathleen and Ross, just want to give our money away. Well I guess that is what democrats do anyway.
tgbthyujiu August 21, 2012 at 05:58 AM
McLeod added that the town has "http://www.thenorthfacesclub.com historically welcomed presidential candidates without ever raising an issue regarding reimbursement." He referenced recent visits from Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.fgrey342 He also called Obama's visit a "great honor and privilege for Windham," and that he would welcome Romney were he to visit the town. http://www.thenorthfacesclub.com/north-face-jackets-women-c-27.html "I believe in the value of welcoming and encouraging discourse and discussion on the issues," McLeod said.
Paul Jacobs August 22, 2012 at 01:45 AM
@ Jane Lang, spoken like a true democrat. Subsidize the Obama campaign stop and now we should be subsidizing local businesses. How about I spend my money on the businesses I want to support.

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