ATKINSON — A young Atkinson native who worked in President Donald Trump’s press office launched her campaign for Congress and the 1st District seat now held by Rep. Chris Pappas on Tuesday.
Karoline Leavitt, 23, announced her candidacy on social media, putting to rest speculation that she was considering a run. She most recently worked as communications director for U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the upstate New York Republican and Trump stalwart who took over U.S. Rep. Lynne Cheney’s job as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference in May.
“Everywhere you look, conservatives including myself are being censored and silenced, and our freedoms to speak freely, think independently, bear arms, go to church and operate our own businesses are being infringed by radical Democrats,” Leavitt says in a campaign video posted to YouTube on Tuesday.
“Here in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, we take our freedoms very seriously, and we need a bold, energetic fighter to serve as a firewall between we the people and those who want to destroy our way of life,” she says.
The former Central Catholic softball star has also seen her star rise in GOP circles. She moved into Stefanik’s office after serving as one of three assistant press secretaries in President Donald Trump’s White House press office.
During an interview last December, Leavitt said she grew up with media and politics “in my blood” — partly due to the fact that New Hampshire hosts the first-in-the-nation presidential primaries every four years. She played softball at St. Anselm College but gave it up after two years because the sport was getting in the way of her academics and internship at WMUR in Manchester.
Early in her junior year Leavitt applied to an internship in the White House correspondence office, which entailed writing "thank you" notes and letters on behalf of the president. That went so well, she was offered a full-time job upon graduation in 2019.
Then, last April, another opportunity arose when Kayleigh McEnany, a political commentator and author, replaced Sarah Sanders as press secretary. A mutual friend passed along Leavitt’s resume.
In December, McEnany said Leavitt was a rising star in the office, with a “bright future in media, politics, or whatever field she chooses.”
Pappas, a former Executive Council member, was first elected to Congress in 2018. The Democrat was reelected last year with 51.3% of the vote, over Matt Mowers, who worked in the State Department during the Trump administration.