Hassan and Bolduc Clash in New Hampshire Debate

Hassan and Bolduc Clash in New Hampshire Debate
U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and Republican challenger Don Bolduc participate in their first debate in Conway, N.H., on Oct. 18, 2022. (Courtesy of Mt. Washington Valley Economic Council)
Alice Giordano

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) debated on Oct. 18 with Republican challenger Don Bolduc on topics that included immigration, abortion, high gas prices, and the economy in what is one of the most watched races in the U.S. midterm election cycle.

The New Hampshire U.S. Senate candidates sat in chairs in relatively close proximity in a small room and answered questions posed by moderator George Epstein, a local businessman. Hassan, a Democrat, remained low-key and reserved during the one-hour event, in a studio-like setting in Conway, which was livestreamed on the internet; Bolduc at times was impassioned and confrontational as he hammered away at Hassan’s status as a “career politician.”

Epstein posed party-based questions to the candidates, asking Hassan if she felt President Joe Biden was mentally fit to continue to lead the country.

“Yes, I have spent ample time with the president to know he is quick and sharp and capable of the job,” Hassan responded. Biden, who turns 80 on Nov. 20, has appeared confused and incoherent at times during press conferences and other public events.

On the subject of the integrity of U.S. Supreme Court justices, Epstein commented that it seems America’s highest court was making party-line decisions and asked the candidates whether GOP-nominated justices who vowed to “respect precedence” should be impeached for overturning Roe v. Wade.

Bolduc defended the decision, emphasizing that the Supreme Court’s sole charge is to make decisions based on the U.S. Constitution and that the Roe v. Wade ruling has been misrepresented as overturning abortion rights.

“No one has overturned abortion rights. It only moved it down to the state level,” he said, “the senator should know this.”

Hassan accused Bolduc of being a beneficiary of Republicans who are using “dark money” to influence Supreme Court decisions as well as elections, referencing $60 million in PAC funds linked to U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has become more and more political as a result of significant dark money over the past three decades with a concerted effort to put in conservatives with a particular point of view,” Hassan said. She said finance campaign reform would be a major step forward in separating politics from the courts.

In what has become a touchy issue for some of Bolduc’s supporters, Epstein brought up the retired Army brigadier general’s flip from his once-unwavering position that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, to his post-primary declaration that Biden is the legitimate president.

Hassan seized the moment to repeat her campaign claim that Bolduc is an election denier, and wondered whether he would potentially seek to undermine the Nov. 8 election results if they don’t come out in his favor.

Bolduc said little on the issue, instead calling on the need to stop government spending and using “the people’s money” to feed special interests and lobbyists.

He pointed out that Hassan is misleading voters, telling the American public one thing, but voting another way. He pointed to her support of Biden’s policy against tapping into domestic oil reserves to ease gas prices at the pump, while saying she sympathizes with the struggles currently inflationary times are causing families.

“This is a career politician at work. Twisting things,” he said.

On a lighter note, each candidate was asked about their favorite Thanksgiving food. Both said they loved sweet potatoes. They were also asked what their favorite TV shows were when they were kids. Hassan said hers was “The Man from U.N.C.L.E” and Bolduc named “Hogan’s Heroes.”

The race is being closely watched nationally as a Bolduc victory might lead to the Republicans retaking the Senate majority and consequently affect the possible outcomes of proposed federal legislation and amendments to existing federal laws.

Following the debate, both candidates posted statements on their campaign websites congratulating themselves for their performances.

Hassan previously had refused repeated requests by Bolduc to debate him.

It’s unclear what prompted the New Hampshire Democrat to finally agree. Earlier this month, The Epoch Times reported that Hassan had backed out of a planned Oct. 12 debate at the Nashua Chamber of Commerce, instead seeking to appear on stage separately.

Alice Giordano is a freelance reporter for The Epoch Times. She is a former news correspondent for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and the New England bureau of The New York Times.
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