Hassan, Bolduc face off at NHIOP as voters get last pitches before mid-terms

Don Bolduc and Maggie Hassan face off for Senate seat

Photos courtesy Don Bolduc Facebook, Saint Anselm CCM

Don Bolduc and Maggie Hassan face off for Senate seat

Patrick McGann, News Editor

Senator Maggie Hassan (D) and General Don Bolduc (R) took the debate stage for the first, and only time, on Nov. 3 at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. In a race where recent polls predict both candidates having the percentile advantage, the two candidates had the opportunity to speak to Granite State voters with their opponent right across from them.

The debate began with a topic that is at the forefront of several races across the country, abortion. General Bolduc answered first, saying that he believes that all abortion issues should be handled at the state level and that he would not vote for a national abortion ban if elected to the Senate. “I have promised Granite Staters that I will not vote for any federal legislation that has to do with abortion. It is a state’s rights issue”, Bolduc said in his opening remarks. Hassan responded by echoing that she will always stand up for a woman’s right to choose and claimed that Bolduc is misleading New Hampshire voters by saying he would vote no on a national ban. Hassan concluded her response by saying, “He (Bolduc) has said that we should rejoice when Roe v Wade was overturned. He said gentlemen in the legislature should decide these issues for women. He is a yes on a nationwide abortion ban and he is trying to conceal it from voters.” General Bolduc strongly denied this allegation and said that these are just more lies that Senator Hassan tells voters right before the election.

The next issue where Hassan and Bolduc clashed was inflation and government spending, particularly under the Biden administration. Senator Hassan highlighted several of her views that ranked her “the most bipartisan Senator”, according to a private study conducted earlier in the year. The accomplishments cited include taking on big pharma, advocating for the suspension of the gas tax, and being a driving force behind the bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Chips and Science Act. She claimed that Bolduc would push for the abolishment of Social Security and Medicare, which would ultimately cost Americans more out-of-pocket money. Bolduc attacked Hassan, for as he put it, her “100^ allegiance to the President.” Bolduc then calls out Hassan for refusing to answer the question and saying she has gotten away with not answering questions the whole campaign. “The Senate has caused these heating and eating issues that have retirees going back to work. She’s created it with her 100% support of Joe Biden’s failed policies.” Several times throughout the debate, Bolduc referred to the term “heating and eating” issues to show that Americans, particularly New Hampshire voters, are struggling to provide basic necessities for their families, including food and heat.

Bolduc and Hassan then sparred over an issue that has been relevant in American politics for the past two years, the 2020 presidential election. Bolduc has been an on-the-record election denier. Bolduc signed a letter that supported the claims that Donald Trump won the election, and during his campaign, stated, “God-damn it I stand by that letter” and “I’m not switching horses, baby”, referring to admitting that Joe Biden was the rightful winner of the election. On September 14th, Bolduc said that the election was not stolen and doubled down on that statement during the debate but refused to admit he previously denied the election results. Rather he said, “This is what we need to do. We need to look at the future, not behind us. You can dwell on the future or the past. I’m going to the future.” Hassan reiterated that his responses to the 2020 election have been inconsistent and called Bolduc “the most extreme nominee for US Senate that New Hampshire has seen in modern history.

After heated discussions on other topics, including immigration, foreign policies, and natural resources, the moderator fired off light-hearted, lightning-round questions. These questions included which foreign leader they view as admirable, who the best US president has been in the 21st century, what “sticker shock” item has surprised them the most, and what their go-to order is at Manchester’s famous Red Arrow Diner. It was no shock the only agreement that was made during the debate was when they both agreed that blueberry pancakes are their favorite foods at the diner. Bolduc also refused to answer who he felt the most admirable foreign leader was claiming that no one was admirable in his opinion. Hassan said that Barack Obama has been the best president of this century and Don Bolduc gave the honor to his lead endorsement, Donald Trump.

Prior to the debate, a protestor outside the NHIOP took a swing at General Bolduc. Bolduc was barely grazed and received no injury, but the incident was prominent in the final topic of the debate, political violence. Hassan said her concerns come from the rhetoric that is used by both Democrats and Republicans to incite violence and create stress between the two parties. Democracy is meant to solve disputes safely, she said, and that thought has been lost in recent years. Bolduc mirrored this statement saying that change needs to happen on both sides and that this violence is an indication of difficult political times, which he intends to change if elected to the Senate.

Following the debate, Hassan took questions from reporters, but Bolduc refused any questions. Hassan pushed the idea that her opponent showed that he is unfit to represent the state of New Hampshire and that his extreme views don’t align with those of the voters. The election is on November 8th and is seen as a true toss-up by many media outlets.