From NBC/NJ’s Mike Memoli
CONCORD, NH — Even New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner was willing to admit that today’s opening of the filing period was "unusual."
At 8:35 am ET this morning, Robert Haines became the first White House hopeful to come to the Secretary of State’s office here to file for the New Hampshire primary. But instead of filing, Haines launched into a prolonged rant that included several costume changes, attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton, and several threats to sue the state.
Haines — a Republican who has run in the primary before, and has had some recent run-ins with the law — rambled for nearly an hour before a patient Gardner began pressing him to actually file. It wasn’t until another candidate, Michael Levinson, appeared ready to file that Haines started to fill out the paperwork. Eventually, after arguments over points of election law, Haines produced a perforated credit card check in the amount of $1,000 to file.
By 11:00 am ET, state police escorted Haines out of the building. But he got his wish — he is technically the first candidate to file, pending approval of his payment. Levinson, after outlining his views and singing a song of peace in Hebrew and Arabic, eventually announced plans to pursue a write-in campaign rather than file and pay the fee. Another declaration arrived via FedEx, from Republican Jack Shepard. The AP reports that Shepard is a fugitive living in Italy.
"Yeah, this is unusual," Gardner said.