Vice President Joe Biden was in New Hampshire Thursday morning, standing alongside the state’s two House members as he touted an uptick in retrofitting activity under a home weatherization program that received $5 billion in last year’s stimulus package, saying the government has now helped upgrade 200,000 homes.
Rep. Paul Hodes, who is running for the Senate, and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who’s seeking re-election in her district, were with Biden at a home in Manchester — and Republicans used the appearance to attack all of them, arguing the weatherization program is actually off to a sluggish start, and has fallen short of Biden’s predictions of success.
Mr. Biden said Tuesday the administration is poised to weatherize 600,000 homes by March 2012. But a Republican press secretary noted the figure was much higher in February 2009, when Mr. Biden said in a speech the government was going to retrofit 2 million homes under the program.
As with races across the country, federal spending has become a flashpoint in the Senate contest, where Kelly Ayotte, who is leading a crop of GOP candidates to challenge Mr. Hodes for the seat being vacated by Sen. Judd Gregg, and other Republicans have hit the New Hampshire Democrat for his support of the stimulus, arguing it hasn’t created the jobs that were promised and has ballooned the federal debt.
“Despite Hodes’ promise that the stimulus would ‘reduce soaring unemployment’ and his eager willingness to volunteer to help ‘brand’ the stimulus in a positive light for Democrat House leadership, New Hampshire’s unemployment rate was still higher in July 2010 than it was in February 2009 when Hodes helped Biden pass the bill into law,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee said in a press release.
Mr. Hodes is trailing Ms. Ayotte, the state’s former attorney general, by an average of eight points, according to RealClearPolitics, which rates the race as leaning Republican.