When he filed his candidacy paperwork at the secretary of state’s office Monday, U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas touted his work with the president on trade issues and urged him to return to the Granite State to campaign.

President Trump, that is.

Despite seeking his fourth term in a state where Republicans have lost every federal election but one since 2012, Pappas went out of his way to praise former President Donald Trump while throwing shade at his fellow Democrat currently sitting in the Oval Office.

“We’re running our own race,” Pappas told NHJournal when asked if President Joe Biden might be a negative for his First District campaign.

Pappas was notably absent last month with Biden made a campaign stop in the Granite State, the only member of the federal delegation not to appear with the president. Even Republicans Gov. Chris Sununu and Manchester Mayor Jay Ruais were on hand to greet Biden at the airport.

Not Pappas.

“I greeted the president at the airport, I think, two times ago when he was here,” Pappas told NHJournal when asked about his recent absence. “I expect he [Biden] will be back and I would hope that former President Trump would come to New Hampshire and that we have a full conversation about the issues.”

That wasn’t Pappas’ only shoutout of the day for Biden’s opponent.

During an interview with radio host Jack Heath on Monday morning, Pappas made it clear he’s not running as a “Biden Democrat.”

“What I’m trying to do is is separate and distinct from what’s happening at the top of the ticket,” Pappas said, “As

House Democratic Caucus Leader Rep. Matt Wilhelm (D-Manchester) at Pappas’ filing.

I’ve said, I served during the Trump administration. I supported [Trump] initiatives like making bigger investments to address the addiction and mental health epidemic, and also to modernize our trade rules with USMCA that the Trump administration negotiated.

“I’ve been critical (of the) Biden administration … on certain points of view that they hold. This is about putting New Hampshire first,” Pappas said, adding: “I don’t believe my party’s always right.”

That appears to be the case regarding support for Israel. While many Democrats were condemning the death toll of Israel’s hostage rescue mission over the weekend, Pappas said this was a “moment to celebrate the release of four hostages that were rescued by Israeli forces just a couple of days ago. The burden is on Hamas, to release all these hostages.”

And Pappas told NHJournal he would not participate in a Democratic boycott of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s July 24 speech before Congress.

“I think it’s really important that we have a bipartisan approach with respect to our foreign policy [and] with respect to the relationship with Israel. We know prime ministers come and go, presidents come and go, and majorities in the House, Senate, and Knesset come and go. It should be something that rises above politics.”

Three Republicans — Chris Bright, Hollie Noveltsky, and Russell Prescott — are running for the First District GOP nomination.

Pappas’ comments, along with Biden’s repeat visits to the Granite State, appear to bolster recent polls showing a close race between Trump and Biden in reliably blue New Hampshire. (Democrats have carried New Hampshire’s Electoral College votes in seven of the last eight elections.)

And the national polling is even worse. The latest FiveThirtyEight polling average finds Biden’s approval rating is a dismal 37.6 percent.

“It appears Rep. Pappas has been reading the polling data. It also appears that to him, Joe Biden has become the political equivalent of Bird Flu,” said veteran GOP strategist Pat Griffin.

It could be that 2024 is shaping up to be like 2016, when Democrat Hillary Clinton edged Trump by just 2,736 votes. If so, Pappas would need crossover GOP support to win.

Asked if he would welcome Trump supporters in November, Pappas said, “Absolutely.”

“We’ve always gotten support across the aisle in the past. This remains a very competitive district, and I think people understand solutions are found somewhere in the middle.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee remains unimpressed.

“Chris Pappas’ election year switcheroos will not fool voters. He can pretend to ‘run his own race,’ but at the end of the day voters know that he voted against securing our border, supported 100 percent of Joe Biden’s self-proclaimed ‘accomplishments,’ and has done nothing to address the economy. New Hampshire voters are ready for a fresh face to represent them in Washington,” said NRCC spokeswoman Savannah Viar.

UNH political science professor Dante Scala agrees the First District is “not a cakewalk” for Pappas. And this election looks particularly tricky.

“Two things look like sure bets in the First District: More people will disapprove of the president than approve of him, and Chris Pappas will be much better known than his Republican opponent,” Scala said.

Griffin sees rough waters ahead for Pappas.

“The First Congressional District is R+3 and this time local politics is going to be entirely dependent on what happens at the top of the ticket. If he’s hoping for ticket splitters in an election that will be a referendum on Joe Biden, he’s not going to find them in the First District.

“To the lifeboats!”