Morse stresses energy, inflation and immigration in US Senate bid

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Jul. 23—N.H. Senate President Chuck Morse, who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, is working to set himself apart from a crowded GOP field with a three-issue mantra revolving around inflation, energy and immigration.

The Salem resident, who is president of Freshwater Farms & Garden Center in Atkinson, met with The Sentinel's editorial board Friday to discuss issues he has been stressing on the campaign trail.

"We need to close the borders and make sure we end catch-and-release in this country," he said, referring to the release of certain detained immigrants while they await hearings. "That to me is important. We have 2 million people coming in, and we're not sure where they're going."

Statistics suggest illegal immigration has increased under the Biden administration.

The U.S. Border Patrol reported more than 1.6 million encounters with migrants along the Southern border last fiscal year, compared to just over 400,000 the previous year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly 1 million in 2019, before the pandemic and during the Trump administration.

Morse said he supports renewed efforts to build more miles of border wall, a project undertaken by Donald Trump but discontinued under Joe Biden.

Another priority for Morse is improving the country's energy policies. He leveled responsibility for high gas prices on the Biden administration.

"They created an energy policy that certainly doesn't work for this country," Morse said. "They drove up the prices on fuel in this country. You can't eliminate the whole subject matter of fossil fuels and believe it's not going to have an effect."

Biden attributes increases in gas prices to Russia's war in Ukraine and said last month that the price per gallon had risen by almost $2 a gallon in the U.S. since the conflict began. He also said the U.S. is actually producing more oil now than under Trump.

The president has called for net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 to slow global warming, but as gas prices increased in recent months he has also sought more domestic production as well as more OPEC oil.

On the subject of climate change, Morse said it's not fair for the United States to take on this burden while other countries, including China, don't do enough.

"The people talking to us about climate change nationally are flying around in jets, drinking wine and having discussions that America is the only one that's going to solve the problem," he said.

Under Trump, the U.S. dropped out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which is meant to tackle global warming. Biden, on his first day in office, began the process of rejoining that 192-country accord.

For his third point, Morse blamed leaders in Washington for causing inflation through excess spending.

New Hampshire has received more than $7 billion in federal COVID-relief money under both Trump and Biden. The money boosted unemployment compensation rates, paid for forgivable Payroll Protection Program loans to businesses, improved safety at nursing homes and helped people pay housing expenses.

Morse said money spent by the federal government during the pandemic should have been more closely scrutinized.

On other issues, Morse said:

He doesn't believe Congress has a role in fashioning laws regarding abortion, and instead feels this should be left to the states.

He doesn't support a change in gun laws to raise the age for buying an AR-15-style rifle from 18 to 21. (The gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school bought two of these types of rifles and scores of ammunition on his 18th birthday.)

He defended the integrity of the New Hampshire election system. He said he doesn't believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, but also said, "I do think there were things that were abnormal in other states. Should they be investigated? Yes."

In the primary, Morse is facing a field that includes Kevin Smith of Londonderry, former director of a conservative advocacy group, and Don Bolduc, a retired Army general, of Stratham.

Also in the race are Gerard Beloin of Colebrook; John Berman of Richmond; Bruce Fenton of Durham; Dennis Lamare of Lee; Edmond Laplante Jr. of Richmond; Vikram Mansharamani of Lincoln; Andy Martin of Manchester; and Tejasinha Sivalingam of Ashland.

Rick Green can be reached at rgreen@keenesentinel.com or 603-355-8567.