ICYMI: Republican Senate candidate Bill O'Brien was caught comparing abortion to slavery and 9/11. When reached for comment, O'Brien doubled down and bragged about how he actually defunded Planned Parenthood when he was Speaker of the NH House, distinguishing him from challengers Corky Messner of Colorado and Donald Bolduc, both of whom also oppose abortion and would defund Planned Parenthood according to the Union Leader.
Key points from Patch's reporting:
O'Brien called the number of abortions performed each day "a national tragedy" that was "on par with the national tragedy of slavery that Republicans ended through the Civil War."
O'BRIEN: "keep in mind that the Democrats — one of the central planks of their platform is to protect Planned Parenthood. When I was speaker, we defunded that."
"Bill O'Brien's record is crystal clear: as Speaker of the New Hampshire House he tried to restrict women's access to abortion and contraception, so we know he would be an automatic vote in the Senate for judges who would overturn Roe v Wade," said NHDP spokesperson Holly Shulman. "We're not going to let that happen." Patch: NH Senate Candidate Likens Abortion To Slavery, Sept. 11 Attacks
By Tony Schinella
MILFORD, NH — A Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, hoping to face incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, in November, has come under fire for remarks he made last year at a GOP meeting comparing abortion and Planned Parenthood to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and slavery. William O'Brien, a former Republican state representative and House speaker, made the comments at a meeting in Milford on Nov. 23, 2019. During part of the conversation, which was captured on audio and submitted to Patch this week, he asked attendees to remember two figures pertaining to the national political scene at the moment: 9-11 and 23 trillion.
"9-11, when we think of that, that's the term we use about the Islamic fascists' attack on this country years ago," O'Brien said. "But there's another importance of 9-11 ... that's the number of babies that the Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry kills every day, seven days a week."
O'Brien called the number of abortions performed each day "a national tragedy" that was "on par with the national tragedy of slavery that Republicans ended through the Civil War. It's on par with that."
When asked if it was really a good analogy to compare the terrorist attacks and abortion, two completely different things, O'Brien said it was.
"Both the Sept. 11 attacks and the ongoing abortions in our country involve mass murder, though they differ in magnitude," O'Brien said. "The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, directly killed 2,977 people. Since Roe vs. Wade was decided, there have been over 60 million unborn children who lost their lives through abortion."
O'Brien, in his Milford speech, said it was his vision that someday, those lives would be saved. Thursday, he stated, "That 911, keep in mind that the Democrats — one of the central planks of their platform is to protect Planned Parenthood. When I was speaker, we defunded that."
His remarks, however, were not an analogy of the events, "that is a comparison of the two events on some basis such as the number who have died," O'Brien added. "Rather, the actual remarks and their context emphasized that the term, 911, should be of importance to all of us not just because it refers to a deadly attack by religious fascists, but also because it also describes the average daily abortions by Planned Parenthood."
In previous speeches when he was speaker, O'Brien made national headlines and was roundly criticized by Democrats for comparing the Affordable Care Act to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1950, due to the law being destructive to personal freedom. Today, by comparing slavery to abortion, he called his comments "fair and accurate," adding it was Republicans, not Democrats, that ended slavery.
"Both are national tragedies," he said "It is to the credit (of) America that the first was ended when our developing morality and understanding of the promise of the Founders mandated it. It is my hope and dream that the latter, too, will end, as our developing morality and an understanding that a society that based on the sanctity of the individual come to mandate it."
Holly Shulman, a spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said O'Brien's record was "crystal clear" and they were going to work to let him from getting elected.
"As speaker of the New Hampshire House, he tried to restrict women's access to abortion and contraception, so we know he would be an automatic vote in the Senate for judges who would overturn Roe v Wade," she said. "We're not going to let that happen."
Whether Republicans or other voters in New Hampshire agree or disagree with his political ruminations, O'Brien is no stranger to courting controversy or making headlines with them.
When he was speaker, he ejected a state representative, the late Steve Vaillancourt from Manchester, a Republican, in 2012, for saying "Sieg Heil" from the House floor during a debate about a voter ID law. Vaillancourt, who denied he was making a Nazi salute, eventually apologized. Not long after that incident, Mike Marland, the then-political cartoonist for the Concord Monitor, drew a cartoon of O'Brien with an Adolph Hitler mustache, writing, "If the mustache fits …"
O'Brien flirted with a Congressional run in 2013, but decided not to seek the 2nd Congressional seat. He was almost drafted to run for Senate in 2016 but declined to challenge then-incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte. Ayotte lost to Maggie Hassan by about 1,000 votes — after illegal mailers, making false claims saying she supported gun control, helped divert thousands of votes to Libertarian candidate Aaron Day.
Since Corey Lewandowski's decision not to run for U.S. Senate this cycle, the race is down to O'Brien, Don Bolduc, a former U.S. brigadier general, and Bryant Messner, a lawyer and veteran.