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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pro-abortion stand brings Binnie threats

CONCORD – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Binnie, of Rye, said he and his 80-year-old father received death threats over his support for legal abortion rights.

Binnie said he’s contacted Rye police about a pattern of what Binnie called “harassing phone calls” that began at home over the past three or four weeks.

“This has nothing to do with being pro-choice or pro-life,” Binnie said Wednesday. “These are people who are extremists. We have seen it in politics, and there is no place for it.

“I don’t attribute this to any group or philosophy,” he said. “This is just what happens in political life.’’

The candidate first spoke about the matter in an interview with The Conway Daily Sun. Binnie attributed it to his description of himself as a “social moderate” early in this race.

“Why am I being attacked by these outside groups? Do you think their motivation is anything other than that?” Binnie asked in the Conway newspaper interview. “Look who is attacking me; it’s a real issue. I think (Thursday) we got over 1,000 pieces of mail to my home – 1,000. We don’t answer our phone anymore.’’

In recent days, Binnie has emphasized his abortion position as part of the closing argument to voters before Tuesday’s primary. Binnie included it in a radio commercial that began airing this week, and he describes himself in ads purchased in several daily newspapers this week as “proudly pro-choice.”

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Binnie said his abortion views were likely linked to the first ad attack on radio launched against him by Cornerstone Action NH, a socially and fiscally conservative interest group.

“I have been under attack from socially conservative groups since the first of August,’’ he said.

None of the ads against Binnie has stressed his views on abortion rights, but criticized him for statements he or campaign officials made on gay marriage, illegal immigration and taxes.

“I believe the government has no place in deciding what our individual rights are,” he said.

Binnie said he didn’t speak publicly about the controversy until now because the dominant issue for voters is which candidate is best suited to pursue policies that help the national economy recover.

“The people out there who really care about the economy know it’s not working for them,” he said. “You don’t need more lawyers.”

The GOP U.S. Senate front-runner, Kelly Ayotte, of Nashua, is a former attorney general who has emphasized her law enforcement record. Ovide Lamontagne, of Manchester, is also a lawyer, and the fourth major candidate, Jim Bender, of Hollis, is, like Binnie, a businessman who helped turn around struggling companies.

Some recent polls showed Binnie slipping perhaps behind Lamontagne into third place in this race, but Binnie remains confident.

“It’s completely fluid now,’’ Binnie said. “I think we’re going to win this thing.’’

Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 321-70540 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com.