WASHINGTON – Embattled Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire repeatedly painted Republican challenger Don Bolduc as an “extremist” during a fiery debate Wednesday, while Bolduc cast the Democratic incumbent as a professional politician who has created nothing but problems for the nation.
Bolduc is “the most extreme nominee for U.S. Senate that New Hampshire has seen in modern history,” Hassan said of her opponent in a surprisingly tight race that could decide whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate next year.
Hassan emphasized Bolduc’s opposition to abortion rights and past support of Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in 2020.
Bolduc, who has moved up in polls against the once-heavily favored Hassan, said the senator has distorted his political views. The retired Army general called Hassan a career politician who blindly follows Democratic policies for bigger government and higher spending.
“She likes unlimited government,” Bolduc said at one point. “That’s what she’s all about.”
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On inflation, Hassan invokes her own credentials
Throughout the debate, Hassan continually raised her credentials as “the most bipartisan senator,” and when it came to inflation, she pointed to Democratic legislative victories passed over the summer.
She cited her support of “the bipartisan infrastructure bill that will help make our entire supply chain system more efficient and lower costs.” She also brought up her support of the CHIPS Act, which invests in domestic manufacturing of semiconductors.
When inflation questions were posed to Bolduc, he blamed inflation on federal spending.
If Bolduc were a senator earlier, he said he wouldn’t have voted for COVID relief bills passed under Trump, saying “they caused problems.” Bolduc also laid the blame on energy policies under Biden.
“Lower inflation is to reverse the disaster energy policies that Joe Biden has implemented and that she (Hassan) supported 100%,” Bolduc said, arguing for the Keystone XL pipeline to be reopened.
Inflation has hovered near 40-year highs for much of the year, squeezing consumers.
Abortion: Hassan plays it up; Bolduc tries to deflect
Hassan repeatedly referred to one of her top issues: Bolduc’s opposition to abortion, a topic she hopes will drive up Democratic turnout. She said Bolduc has been an outspoken opponent of abortion for years and would likely support a federal ban on the practice.
“He is a yes vote for a nationwide abortion ban and he’s trying to conceal that from voters,” Hassan said.
Bolduc denied that and tried to avoid talking about abortion at all because he said he doesn’t believe it is a federal issue; states should make abortion policy.
“It is a state issue,” he said, and added “that’s the end of what I have to say about it” – though he did find time to note that Hassan doesn’t appear to support any restrictions on abortion.
Hassan said Bolduc is trying to “conceal” plans to make abortion illegal.
The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, and several states now have abortion-related measures on the November ballot.
Previously:Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, eliminating constitutional right to abortion
Election denial: Bolduc tries to distance himself from attacks on 2020 election; Hassan reminds him
Bolduc tried to distance himself from past comments alleging voter fraud in Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss, referring to his September comment that “it was not stolen.”
“That’s it,” Bolduc said. “I’m not discussing it anymore. We need to move forward. Elections are about future.”
Hassan, however, was happy to discuss Bolduc’s past comments claiming voter fraud cost Trump re-election.
“He’s spent over a year in New Hampshire stoking the big lie, saying it was stolen,” Hassan said.
Fact check:Joe Biden legally won presidential election, despite persistent contrary claims
Hassan, Bolduc dispute federal government’s role in education
When asked about the government’s role in education, Hassan responded that parents and teachers should work together on the local level and downplayed federal involvement in school policy, saying its role should be limited.
“At the end of the day, this is about parents and teachers and students and school committees making critical decisions and sharing critical information,” Hassan said.
Bolduc agreed, saying the federal government should not be involved in education.
He blamed the Department of Education for the decline of testing scores. Parents need to be in charge, he said, claiming that Hassan has never supported parents’ rights and likes “unlimited government.”
“It needs to be locally driven,” Bolduc said. “Not driven by the federal government, and that’s how we need to invest in it.”
New Hampshire Senate race recap:Maggie Hassan, Don Bolduc debate in lead up to Election Day
Immigration and the border
Bolduc made it a point over the debate to blame Biden and Hassan for illegal immigration at the southern border.
“The people going to the border, because of her (Hassan’s) policies, because of her ideas, because of Biden’s ideas, are getting killed,” Bolduc said.
“This is a despicable thing going on. And then once they get here, they get put on trucks and we find them in trucks,” said Bolduc, referring to a truck found in San Antonio that contained 53 deceased migrants over the summer.
Hassan offered up her previous rebukes of the Biden administration, arguing she supported stronger border policies calling for “more technology and in some places, more physical barriers. And that’s what I have continued to press for and support.”
Bolduc brushed away Hassan’s claims, chalking her argument up to “career politician political talk.”
On the border:Republicans made inroads with South Texas Latinos last election. Now, they’re hoping for a red wave
Candidates condemn political violence
Both candidates offered their sympathies to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul, who was recently attacked at their residence in San Francisco.
Hassan emphasized that the point of democracy is to have a nonviolent system for resolving disputes.
“Think about the things we could accomplish as Granite Staters if we all work together,” she said.
Bolduc said the attack on Paul Pelosi is a “sign of the times” and a “political problem,” arguing that both sides of the aisle are fueling the rising political violence in the country.
“It is absolutely essential that we tone down the rhetoric,” she said.
What happened:Nancy Pelosi’s husband suffers skull fracture after attack; suspect charged with attempted murder
Story Credit: usatoday.com