Hassan defends campaign style, Bolduc is proud of changing views

Oct. 27—CONCORD — During a spirited second debate Thursday, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan denied she has run an insular campaign while Republican nominee Don Bolduc said changing his mind on key issues proves he would be accountable to New Hampshire residents.

The pair disagreed sharply over their plans to fight inflation and on policies regarding abortion, energy, illegal immigration and other topics.

New Hampshire Public Radio reporter/debate moderator Josh Rogers asked Hassan why her campaign has consisted largely of by-invitation events often limited to the public.

"You are a political commentator, I am not," Hassan responded. "I run my campaign in a way that allows me to hear from Granite Staters and address issues in real time, both as a candidate and a U.S. senator."

Bolduc accused Hassan of deliberately trying to limit her exposure to voters and business owners upset about high inflation, a chronic workforce shortage and supply chain delays.

"I don't know how she can look people in the eye when they are making choices between heating and eating," Bolduc said, adding later, "This is disgraceful, it's wrong and it's your fault."

Bolduc, a retired brigadier general, said it's not weakness that he has altered his positions on issues ranging from the legitimacy of the 2020 election to his openness in the past about federal abortion restrictions and entitlement reform.

"It is not changing for audience sake; it is changing because that is what I am supposed to be, accountable, responsible, transparent, trustful, tell the truth, admit when I was wrong," Bolduc said.

"I have admitted I was wrong about the 2020 election. She hasn't admitted she was a 2016 (election) denier but she was."

Hassan: Bolduc hides his extreme views

Hassan said Bolduc hides from the voters many of his views and claimed he endorsed replacing the federal income tax system with a 23% sales tax.

"I think what has happened here is Don Bolduc, whose views are very extreme and very out of step with Granite Staters, has discovered that so he works to conceal it from people," Hassan said.

Bolduc denied he endorsed a sales tax though he does believe the income tax system should be overhauled.

Hassan said high inflation is a global phenomenon caused mainly in the U.S. by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

"I have stood up to Big Oil and Big Pharma to take the steps necessary to begin to lower costs," Hassan said.

Bolduc said the $5.5 trillion in spending Hassan voted for made inflation worse and has led to not only higher prices but more expensive home mortgages and $2 trillion less in income for retirees.

"Think about where your retirement savings are right now, the 401Ks are now 301Ks," Bolduc said.

Bolduc calls Hassan ad about him a 'disgrace'

On abortion, Bolduc said he would vote against any federal restrictions including any limit on access to in-vitro fertilization.

He supports the state law that bans an abortion after 24 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest and criminal penalties for doctors who violate that ban.

"Her commercial about me wanting to murder mothers is a disgrace and it brought my eight-year-old granddaughter to tears," Bolduc said.

Hassan said Bolduc has a "very long record of extremism" in support of restricting legal abortions.

"The problem with politicians like Don Bolduc drawing arbitrary lines in terms of these decisions is that they can in fact harm women and cause them to lose their lives in some cases," Hassan said.

On energy, Hassan said Bolduc would be a reliable friend to Big Oil and opposed provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that offered incentives for renewables and a tax credit for homeowners.

Bolduc said if elected he'd vote to reverse President Joe Biden's policies that canceled the Keystone Pipeline and limited fossil fuel production on federal lands.

"She has got it all confused. Her policies hurt people and my policies will help bring prices down," Bolduc said.

Hassan said she's opposed liberals in her own party to keep in place Title 42 former President Donald Trump installed to reduce migrants coming into the U.S. during the pandemic.

"We have to have a secure border so that we can run an asylum adjudication system that follows our values, but the first job of government is to keep our people safe," Hassan said.

Bolduc said Hassan backed only a fraction of the Border Patrol agents needed and said that's why under Biden 4 million more have gained entry into this country without documentation.

"I know what these policies have given us. This isn't American values, this is the opposite of American values and it has to stop," Bolduc said. "Visiting borders is a lot more different than working on borders."

Hassan said she supports amending the Senate filibuster to override it when individual rights are at stake such as with legislation on a woman's reproductive freedom.

She would consider federal legislation to limit the length of service for Supreme Court justices so there is a "regular rotation" on the nation's high court as long as those judges could still serve elsewhere in the federal judiciary.

Bolduc said he would oppose both those changes.

klandrigan@unionleader.com