MANCHESTER — Six presidential candidates have taken the No Labels “Problem Solver Promise,” according to No Labels co-chairmen Jon Huntsman and Joe Lieberman, who were in Manchester on Monday to announce the six names to a gathering of 500 No Labels supporters at the Manchester Radisson.
Huntsman, a former Utah governor, and Joe Lieberman, a former Connecticut senator, founded the No Labels organization five years ago to encourage non-partisan solutions to the nation’s most pressing problems. Huntsman ran for President in 2012, and Lieberman in 2004.
They’ve been taking advantage of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary to get presidential candidates on board, and have met with modest success. With 12 Republicans and three Democrats still in the race, fewer than half have sent letters to No Labels agreeing to the Problem Solver Promise.
They are Republicans Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Rand Paul and Donald Trump; and Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley.
By signing the promise, the six candidates agreed to embrace four priorities and promised that if elected, within 30 days of taking office they will start working with Congress on at least one of the four.
Those priorities, in no particular order, are to create 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years; make Social Security and Medicare solvent for another 75 years; make America energy independent by 2024; and balance the federal budget by 2030.
The goals — called the National Strategic Agenda — were determined in a national poll commissioned by No Labels.
Four of the six candidates who signed the Problem Solver Promise sent surrogates to Monday’s event in Manchester, while Christie and O’Malley spoke via live-stream video.
O’Malley spent some of his time questioning the wisdom of including Trump in the group.
“Quite honestly, I think that you are watering down and dumbing down your problem solver label when you bestow it on someone like Donald Trump,” he said. “When Donald Trump says things like we should issue ID cards to all American Muslims, that’s not bringing people together. That’s not solving problems. That’s making a fascist appeal. So, I would encourage you not to dumb down this label.”
Republican State Rep. Steve Stepanek of Milford, Trump’s co-chairman, said the candidate fully supports the problem solver promises.
In an interview with Union Leader editors and reporters, Huntsman emphasized that the problem solver label is not an endorsement by the group.
“We are not endorsing anyone,” he said. “This is not a seal of approval. The candidates are simply accepting what we have defined as a process for problem-solving and leadership. After all the name-calling and nastiness, someone is going to have to get something done for the country.”
He said the door is still open to any other candidates who want to sign up, and predicted that others would.
“We are going to release some data on polling,” he said. “Once we show where that is going, and the primary heats up, I think we’re going to see more come on.”
The organization has several hundred New Hampshire volunteers who have pledged to attend campaign events and press candidates who have not signed the pledge, while encouraging those who have.