A New Hampshire Senate debate between incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan and retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc heated up Thursday as the pair tussled over a number of subjects, including the economy, abortion and climate change.
The debate, which was hosted by New Hampshire Public Radio, was held less than two weeks away from the Nov. 8 election in the battleground state and provided the two candidates with opportunities to discuss their views on subjects they felt were most meaningful to Granite State voters.
Pointing to government spending, one moderator asked Hassan why voters should ‘trust’ her and the Democrats to fix economic issues facing New Hampshire residents and Americans.
‘Taking a step back, inflation is a global phenomenon and most experts say the labor shortage and the supply chain disruptions that are driving it are caused primarily by the pandemic and the war,’ Hassan responded. ‘It’s absolutely essential we do what we can right now to lower people’s costs while also dealing with the long-term drivers of inflation.’
Discussing efforts to lower the costs for Americans, Hassan said she has ‘pushed the Biden administration to release more home heating fuel, right now, from its reserves so that we can increase supply’ and has called for the suspension of the federal gas tax.
‘These are all things that Don Bolduc opposes,’ Hassan added. The Democratic senator also charged that Bolduc ‘stands with big oil.’
In response, Bolduc said the inflation crisis in America is both a ‘Republican and a Democrat problem, which my opponent refuses to recognize.’
‘I’m going down there to represent Granite Staters that are hurting,’ Bolduc said. ‘They’re hurting because both parties are extreme. Both parties can’t come together for the economy, the out-of-control spending, and the safety and security of this nation.’
Bolduc said Hassan made several ‘accusations’ and ‘lies’ about what he does and does not support. ‘I’ve never been a politician,’ he said. ‘She’s ineffective. That’s why we have these problems. She has not done the right thing for spending – $5.2 trillion more dollars from March to August.’
Asked what spending he would cut to ‘address inflation’ if he is elected, Bolduc said, ‘Well, the first thing I would have done is vote for the bill that was put on the Senate floor in August that she voted against and that was to stop any additional spending until we got inflation under control.’
‘She voted no for that, OK,’ he added. ‘She talks about all these things about Don Bolduc, but Don Bolduc isn’t in the Senate yet. Don Bolduc will stop this spending and I will work on commonsense measures that help Granite Staters pay the bills, drive down gas prices, drive down food prices.’
Pressed for specifics on how he would drive down spending, Bolduc said, ‘I would change all the energy policies that she agreed with with Biden – XL pipeline, more drilling, more permits, more leases. This doesn’t empower the petroleum industry, it drops prices for you. It makes life affordable for you.’
‘How about $6 million going to New York to build golf courses, how about $465,000 going to teach pigeons how to play slot machines, how about $7 million going to California to build parks, how about multi-millions of dollars going to Tunisia and Pakistan to study gender transition – that’s their issue, that’s not our issue,’ he added.
On abortion, Bolduc, who has said in the past that he opposes a federal ban on the medical procedure, reiterated his position during the debate.
‘Ma’am, I wish you would listen to me because I can read your mask,’ Bolduc said to one audience member. ‘I do not support a federal ban, either for or against abortion at the federal level.’
‘It is now a state issue, which [Hassan] does not understand,’ Bolduc added. ‘I support New Hampshire’s law. I support Granite Staters. [Hassan] lies. I’ve told her this personally in several venues and she continues to lie.’
Bolduc also insisted that Hassan’s commercials on the subject of abortion are ‘hurtful.’
‘Her commercial about me wanting to murder mothers is disgraceful. It’s disgraceful, and it brought my 8-year-old granddaughter to tears,’ he said. ‘I have worked my entire life to protect men and women and children, my entire life. I will never, ever put anyone’s life in jeopardy. These accusations are hurtful.’
In response, Hassan claimed Bolduc has a record of ‘extremism’ on abortion and that the ‘problem with politicians like Don Bolduc drawing arbitrary lines in these decisions is that they can, in fact, harm women and cost them their lives in some cases.’
‘This is about a woman’s fundamental freedom, her health, and her safety,’ Hassan said. ‘Don Bolduc has a very long record of extremism here. He said on the campaign trail that he would never vote against anti-choice legislation in the United States Senate – that means he is a yes vote for a national abortion ban.’
Continuing as Bolduc shook his head in disagreement, Hassan said, ‘He said we should rejoice when Dobbs overturned Roe v. Wade. The women of New Hampshire are not rejoicing.’
The candidates also touched on climate change during the debate, with Bolduc claiming that the federal government’s involvement with climate change is a ‘complete waste of money and a waste of time.’
‘I think the state government should do it,’ he said. ‘I think our state legislatures and governors will take care of our environment really well. I think the EPA at the federal level has established standards that the state doesn’t agree with.… I support anything to help the environment, I think it’s great, I’m all over that, but what they’re not doing and what they are doing with the Green New Deal is hurting Granite Staters.’
In contrast, Hassan said climate change is a ‘huge issue’ and touted the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which she said will ‘promote investment into a clean energy economy so we can finally see completion to big oil and pivot to a clean energy economy.’
‘Since climate change is a huge issue, I hear about it from small businesses on the sea coast seeing increased sea level rise and facing flooding,’ Hassan added. ‘I see it and hear about it from the travel and tourism industry here in New Hampshire and homeowners.’
A poll released last month showed Hassan with a lead over Bolduc in the race. Hassan and Bolduc will face off in the New Hampshire Senate election on Nov. 8.