- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2012

GRANITE STATE DIPLOMACY

Aside from a horde of politicians and journalists, New Hampshire is preparing to welcome foreign diplomats who expect to get an insider’s view of the Republican presidential primary next week.

“We’re very excited to see the diplomats come to New Hampshire and see this display of democracy,” said George Bruno, a former U.S. ambassador who organized similar visits for the presidential campaigns of 2004 and 2008. “We’re going to give them a great insider’s view of the campaign.”

Diplomats from Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand will visit campaign headquarters of the primary candidates, meet voters and attend presidential debates on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Mr. Bruno, who served in Belize from 1994 to 1997, formed the Diplomatic Observer Program in 2004 during President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, when the political focus was on the Democratic primary.

Four years later, both parties held primaries, and the Granite State drew diplomatic attention after a long-shot candidate named Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator from Illinois, won the Iowa caucuses.

In New Hampshire, Mr. Obama lost the popular vote to Hillary Rodham Clinton but tied her by picking up nine delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Mr. Bruno admitted that the diplomatic interest in this year’s primary has fallen from the 2008 contest because only the Republicans have a contested election.

“Quite frankly, there doesn’t seem to be the interest on the Republican side,” he said of the diplomats who are planning to travel to New Hampshire. “Four years ago, we were turning them away.”

The program is limited to a small group of diplomats to allow them to gain access to the political campaign events, said Dan McKenna, the organization’s executive director. Eleven diplomats attended four years ago, but just nine are expected Tuesday.

They will receive daily briefings from analysts, including Andy Smith and Dante Scala of the University of New Hampshire, Steve Duprey of the Republican National Committee, and Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Mr. Bruno, a Democrat who chaired former President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign in New Hampshire, is hosting the visit, along with Ted Howard of the University of New Hampshire’s Partners for Peace program; Richard Swett, a former Democratic congressman from New Hampshire and former ambassador to Denmark; Betty Tamposi, assistant secretary of state for consular affairs under former President George H.W. Bush; and Philip James Walker, a retired Foreign Service officer.

HAQQANI FEARS FOR LIFE

Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, who resigned in a high-level scandal last year, fears the country’s spy service will kill him if he leaves the shelter of the prime minister’s guarded guesthouse.

“There are clear security concerns, given the hysteria generated against me. Staying at the prime minister’s house is the safest option,” Husain Haqqani told London’s Daily Telegraph this week.

Mr. Haqqani, one of the most popular ambassadors in Washington, returned to Pakistan in November to defend himself against charges he had conspired with a Pakistani-American businessman to remove top military officials from Pakistan’s government.

In the interview printed Wednesday, Mr. Haqqani complained that the Pakistani press has branded him a “traitor” and “American lackey” with the encouragement of “powerful quarters,” a reference to Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

Last year, businessman Mansoor Ijaz publicly accused the ambassador of recruiting him to deliver a secret letter from Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mr. Ijaz claimed the letter sought U.S. help if Mr. Zardari arranged for a removal of military officials who supported anti-American terrorists.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.