Retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc on Thursday said sky-high energy bills are forcing New Hampshire residents to choose between heating and eating, and voters must send him to Washington to rein in spending and increase domestic drilling.
The Republican nominee for Senate blamed Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, who is seeking a second term, for the tough choices facing state residents, saying her votes for pandemic-related spending fueled skyrocketing prices.
“I have been to every town and city in this state. Granite Staters are hurting,” Mr. Bolduc said in a debate hosted by New Hampshire Public Radio.
Mr. Bolduc said he doesn’t place all the blame for inflation on Democrats but instead on politicians in Washington, generally. He said he would be a fresh voice for state residents. He said he would support more oil drilling to reduce gas prices and would have backed a measure to stop additional government spending until inflation was under control.
Ms. Hassan, meanwhile, said labor shortages, supply chain issues and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were driving inflation across the world.
“Inflation is a global phenomenon,” she said.
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Ms. Hassan said she is taking steps to alleviate costs, pointing to steps to cut prescription drug costs and her support for suspending the federal gas tax and releasing more home heating oil from reserves.
She called Mr. Bolduc a puppet for Big Oil and said he will not take on oil companies that haven’t increased production amid high prices.
An Emerson College poll on Monday showed Ms. Hassan leading Mr. Bolduc by the low single digits, 48%-45%, giving the GOP hope after earlier polls suggested a victory was out of reach.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is throwing cash at ads for Mr. Bolduc, given the tightening race, even though other GOP committees pulled resources from the state.
Mr. Bolduc has been a thorn in the establishment GOP’s side this year, given some of his views and comments. His primary win over centrist Chuck Morse left many feeling the race was lost to Ms. Hassan.
Mr. Bolduc supports repealing the 17th Amendment, which allows for the direct election of senators by the public. He once called New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, a “Chinese communist sympathizer.” He also echoed former President Donald Trump’s view that the 2020 election was stolen, though he concluded “the election was not stolen” right after winning the GOP primary.
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“I’ve admitted that I got it wrong on the 2020 election,” Mr. Bolduc said Thursday.
In the debate, Ms. Hassan painted her opponent as an election “denier” and too extreme for New Hampshire. She also bet he will set back abortion access, an animating issue for Democrats this cycle.
Mr. Bolduc said he doesn’t support a federal ban on abortion, pushing back on Ms. Hassan’s claims he would vote for nationwide restrictions.
“It is now a state issue. … I’ve told Mitch McConnell, and I’ve told Lindsey Graham,” Mr. Bolduc said, referring to the Senate GOP leader and the South Carolina senator who sponsored a nationwide ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
On the Senate filibuster, Ms. Hassan said she does not like the fact any senator in the minority can keep legislation from advancing with the push of a button.
“I have been in favor of returning it to a talking filibuster,” Ms. Hassan said.
She said some issues are “fundamental” to American life, such as the right to vote or abortion, in which legislation should not need 60 votes to advance.
Mr. Bolduc said he does not want to get rid of the filibuster.
On Ukraine, Mr. Bolduc said Kyiv deserves support but he “would have required transparency” and demanded an accounting of how the first tranche of U.S. funding was spent before adding billions more.
Ms. Hassan said the U.S. has built a “strong alliance” in the region and let the world’s other autocrats know it will fight for democracy.
Asked if Ukraine should cede territory to end the war, she said, the Ukrainian people “have a right to self-determination and that is their decision to make.”
On the climate, Ms. Hassan said climate change is a serious problem and she supports a gradual switch to cleaner forms of energy.
Mr. Bolduc said he trusts the state to take care of environmental matters and said federal efforts have been fruitless because the U.S. has been unable to hold China, Russia and other polluters accountable.
On immigration, Ms. Hassan said she doesn’t want to see Title 42, a pandemic provision that allows the U.S. to repel migrants at the southern border, to be lifted until there are provisions in place to prepare for a possible surge.
Mr. Bolduc said the border simply isn’t secure and the problem is flooding the country with fentanyl while encouraging migrants to take a perilous journey.
Mr. Bolduc said, “87,000 IRS agents? No way, It needs to go the border patrol.”