Eleven Questions for New Hampshire's Official Irish Wit
I’ve heard you described as one of the state’s premier Irish wits. How would you interpret that?
I’d interpret that to mean we have an alarmingly low number of wits in the state.
Seriously, how’d you get that reputation?
I like a good Irish story; I’ve been known to spin a yarn. I tend to speak at Saint Patrick’s Day breakfasts or political parties — when they can’t get a headliner. I’m kind of the Shecky Green of Saint Patrick’s Day roasters.
One of your sons is currently touring the country in a Broadway show. Does that talent for entertaining run in the family?
We don’t know where it came from — we’re beginning to suspect we may have to do some DNA testing.
You’re a New Hampshire native, as were your parents and grandparents … so from where does your penchant for Irish yarns come?
My grandmother was the classic little Irish lady. She’s the one who used to impart bits of Irish wisdom to me. And I’ve been to Ireland. It’s a fabulous country. The people are wonderful warm people. When we went over there, I was told to look up some relatives in Dublin, so I asked the concierge at the hotel where this guy with the last name Griffin lived. He gave me directions and we went down the street and found the address. I told the guy living there I thought we were related and they had us in for beer and toasted cheese sandwiches. We spent around three hours visiting with them. When we got back to the hotel, the concierge told us he’d given us directions to the wrong house.
I’m against that. I don’t drink a lot, but when I do, I’m a beer purist.
How do you see your role in New Hampshire politics?
I’m a Republican, and I have a chance to get on television once in a while and prognosticate about what I think.
People tend to recognize you from these appearances …
The demo of my fan base is 65 plus. Older women really dig me on TV. They usually say things to me like: “I knew your grandfather — if he knew you were a Republican, he’d be rolling in his grave.”
How, if at all, are politics different in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire breeds a particularly plucky kind of voter because we get a chance to ask the 27th question about welfare reform, health care or education to almost every one of these guys [presidential primary candidates] who comes traipsing through. When you can make presidential candidates come to the state and answer your questions, you can be sure you expect local politicians to satisfy voters’ curiosity.
When you’re not politicking, what makes you happy?
I like to hang out with my wife and kids. I love the advertising business. It’s a blast; I work with some incredibly talented people who make me look good every day. I like the outdoors.
You’re an outdoorsman?
I’m opposed to camping. I like the skiing, the hiking, boating, outdoor stuff, but come sundown, I want a warm fireplace and comfortable room with a shower and minibar. My requirements are simple.
Besides the great outdoors, what made you choose to make your home in your home state?
I went away to school, to work for a while after that, but I came back because I missed it. We’re not far from just about anything. New Hampshire really gives you unique, great quality of life. It beats Washington. I spend a fair amount of time in Washington — and if you want a friend in Washington, you have to buy a dog. NH