Joe McQuaid’s poker face and how NH’s Grand Old Party really got Trumped

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Union Leader front page, Dec. 28. 2015.
Union Leader front page, Dec. 28. 2015.

I am not one to editorialize.

But today I will make an exception because I can’t stand silently by while the state’s newspaper of record tries to jump off the Donald Trump bandwagon as it careens toward the February 9 New Hampshire Primary.

I’m compelled by a front-page editorial published Dec. 28 by my former boss, Joseph McQuaid, known for his pithy point of view on New Hampshire politics.

Long before McQuaid was steering the ship, The Union Leader’s reputation was steeped in a vintage conservatism far more potent than anything the Tea-Partiers are serving up these days.

Much has changed. The Granite State’s shiny red cloak of conservatism has been splattered with enough die-hard liberal policy that it is now a purple cape of bi-partisanship flapping around wildly with the winds of change.

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In the last 10 presidential elections, New Hampshire’s electorate chose a Democrat as many times as it chose a Republican.

I don’t disagree with McQuaid’s assessment of Trump. I even appreciate his astute anecdotal mention that the creator of “Back to the Future II” modeled bully Biff Tannen after Trump. Of course, that movie came out more than 30 years ago, and of all the things that have changed in this world, apparently, Trump isn’t one of them.

In 337 pithy words, McQuaid today tried to reframe Trump as someone who has publicly descended into being a bully and a blowhard. That would require Trump to have previously been standing on some higher ground being something other than a blowhard.

McQuaid knows better than that.

If there is nothing more powerful than truth, then here’s a powerful observation for you:

On November 12, 2014, I attended the Union Leader’s annual First Amendment Awards celebration where Trump was invited by McQuaid as keynote speaker. I snapped some photos of McQuaid handing Trump some kind of “thank you” statue with an American Eagle on top. I can’t remember what exactly McQuaid said to Trump just before the hand-off, but I do remember McQuaid exercised his usual wit to elicit some laughs from the packed house, and a big smile from Trump.

Trump generously donated his speaking services. Perhaps he was angling, in return, for a future Union Leader endorsement, which never came.

I’m sure, back then, using Trump to sell tickets for a celebration of freedom of speech and to support the Nackey Loeb School, which owns the Union Leader, seemed like a good marketing idea. Tickets were $75 each, or $150 if you wanted a little face time with the Donald. Multiplied by the sell-out crowd, I’d say that makes Trump a real cash cow.

Today, badmouthing Trump to sell newspapers to people who are buying everything  Trump is selling is a desperate grab by McQuaid at the last shred of his newspaper’s dignity. If he is trying to salvage his own political bully pulpit – and relevance – in time for the NH Primary, I’m afraid it’s too little, too late.

If he’s afraid Trump is insulting the intelligence of New Hampshire voters, then he should boycott Trump’s town hall, happening tonight in Nashua, by not sending a reporter.

But that won’t happen. Trump sells newspapers.

Today’s editorial by McQuaid underscores that the game of New Hampshire politics is only a game until a guy like Trump passes go with the help of a sputtering newspaper publisher who, one year ago, encouraged Trump to keep speaking freely by giving him a statuette, an audience, and a bully pulpit.

And, by default, his blessing.

Postscript 3 p.m: After the Union Leader’s front-page editorial circulated Monday, Donald Trump immediately retaliated by calling Publisher Joe McQuaid names and accusing him of being Chris Christie’s puppet. 


Carol Robidoux, Editor.


Carol Robidoux is editor and publisher of Manchester Ink Link.



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About Carol Robidoux 5602 Articles

Journalist and editor of, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.

  • Rich Paul

    You think the candidate is an idiot, so you don’t send a reporter? That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. Sometimes, candidates being idiots is news …

    • Gary Trahan

      If only to shine a light on the idiots who are in support…

  • NH Labor News

    Well said Carol. You should do more editorials.

  • Tesha

    Maybe calling it a “News Paper” is the problem – it really isn’t is it..

    News went out of fashion quite a while ago. Now we have infotainment and “reality” that really isn’t any where close to real reality.

    The UL, just like all papers today have one goal, to sell more papers. Some though still have a shred of decency left…

  • Diane Sheehan

    Nailed it.

  • SM

    Wow…thank you, Carol.

  • bzguy

    The Loeb legacy continues, my newspaper is bigger than yours, I’ll just take my marbles and go home.

  • R. Scott White

    Very well written editorial. Also an indictment of the whole McQuaid/Trump relationship which is preposterous at most and weird at least. The campaign stop at Pennichuck Middle School in Nashua continued Trump’s childish behavior towards both McQuaid and Christie and further established “the Donald” as a rambling candidate who seems more bent on a comic delivery rather than a serious presidential candidate.

  • Carolyn Choate

    I just want to add my two cents as I attended the Nov. 12,
    2014 event as a volunteer from the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications
    under the auspices of the Union Leader where I and many others enjoy teaching
    numerous writing classes throughout the year that are free to the public thanks
    to the monies raised at said event. (Previous speakers include VP Joe Biden,
    Chris Matthews, Bill O’Brien, and George Stephanopoulos, to name a few.) The
    real “star” that particular evening was NH resident and journalist,
    James Foley, who had just recently been beheaded by Islamic terrorists. The
    First Amendment Award was given posthumously and accepted by his parents. I
    like to think that the biggest fundraiser in the school’s history was in
    tribute to James and not because of Donald Trump’s appearance. The latter, by
    the way, graciously gave a check to James’ parents that night for $25,000,
    unsolicited, for the foundation they started in their son’s name.

    • I appreciate your POV, Carolyn. I did cover that event with a news story about the Foley Foundation. Many of those who came for the private Trump event left before the Foley event, including several prominent NH GOP members who told me they were not staying for the rest of the program. I’d like to think they came for James as well.