Sununu raps partisan rhetoric, saying that's not who we are in New Hampshire

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Gov. Chris Sununu gets a little excited while talking about the state's 2.6 unemployment rate on Tuesday during his State of the State address at the Governor's Inn in Rochester. (Rochester Voice photos)

ROCHESTER - New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said California Congresswoman Maxine Watters' call to accost White House staff was disgraceful adding both parties had to ratchet back the rhetoric.

Sununu's comments came during Tuesday's State of the State address at the Governor's Inn.

Sununu said the negativity of Washington doesn't hurt us in New Hampshire, however, where we bring everybody to the table and "do it right."

Sununu emphasized also that while he does not condone some of the things President Trump tweets and says like calling New Hampshire a "drug infested den," he is very pleased with much of what he's accomplished.

NOT SEEING EYE TO EYE - An unidentified man with a handful of activists there to confront Governor Sununu asks if the governor thinks it's OK for ICE agents to take illegal immigrants off a bus. The governor said if they've committed a crime and have a warrant, yes.

As proof he pointed out successes with North Korea and the GOP Tax Bill, adding meanwhile, "The Democrats have no agenda."

Some of the governor's speech focused on the opioid crisis, which he said has been poorly served by many of the state's nonprofits who were operated without sound policy or accountability.

"We have to focus on individuals and individual outcomes and see what works," Sununu said. "This is about people, not political whim."

He also said homelessness, drug abuse and mental health are often treated separately but they're all part of the same problem.

The governor also touted the economic engine that is New Hampshire has boundless potential but it is important to retain and develop skilled workers who can do the job.

He said he wanted to give New Hampshire's youth career choices long before their junior or senior year in high school.

"Give them a school choice starting earlier like in the sixth grade," Sununu said. "Give them classes, options they can aspire to."

He said this will be key in keeping the state's youth here at home and ready to take the demanding, sometimes tech-heavy jobs that tomorrow's businesses will call for and help to maintain the New Hampshire advantage, which he said is the envy of the nation.

Recalling the state's pitch to host Amazon's second headquarter, he said most knew the state probably wouldn't get it since Amazon wanted a large city, he noted, but we put everything in that pitch and we now use it for every company eyeing the Granite State.

"We use it for all our pitches now," he said, adding "we have to catch em' with a net they're coming so fast."

During a 40-minute Q &A, Sununu also called Trump's new tariffs "terrible" and hoped they were part of a strategy rather than the start of a major trade war.

"I understand the China tariffs, but not Canada and Mexico," he said. "Canada is our No. 1 trading partner and Mexico is No. 2."

Asked about the recent Rochester override of the tax cap to fund Rochester schools and whether the state was supporting its education objectives enough Sununu expressed some frustration but said he didn't want a judge to decide any change in the funding formula.

"I want it decided in the legislature, not the courts," he said.

As the Q&A session wound down, a group of what appeared to be college students asked a series of controversial questions about ICE agents boarding buses in New Hampshire and Maine and the separation of illegal immigrants from their children at the border.

There are no "checkpoints," Sununu said, adding that if ICE agents board a bus looking for criminals and find one with an active warrant they have to be detained.

Regarding the separation of families at the southern border, he said, "We need border security, but we don't believe in separating families. That's why I pulled the state National Guard back from Texas."

He added that the border problem should have been fixed by former presidents.

The group of about five young men and women, who were clearly at the breakfast solely to confront Sununu, were finally heckled by a lone audience member and left after holding up a protest sign.

As they left the crowd applauded.

The Tri-Chambers of Commerce State of the State breakfast was underwritten by Eversource.

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