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GOP Candidates Gone Radical: Bolduc, Smith, and Fenton Compete to See Who Can Be Most Extreme

In case you missed it, on Sunday, Kevin Smith, Don Bolduc, and Bruce Fenton, all faced off at the Government Integrity Project debate, where they each raced to claim the crown for most extreme.

The lowlight of the afternoon? When Don Bolduc called to repeal the 17th amendment, which ensures the right of people to elect their own Senators (while running in a Senate race), and Bruce Fenton rushed to agree. Bolduc also called to defund the Department of Homeland Security and said he was open to abolishing the FBI. And Chuck Morse didn’t bother to show up at all…

Read more below:

  • Republican candidates in a New Hampshire Senate primary debate over the weekend raced to the right, casting doubt on the 2020 election and discrediting the FBI after the recent search of former President Donald Trump's home.

  • Speaking at a debate sponsored by the Government Integrity Project, a conservative group, retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, cryptocurrency investor Bruce Fenton and former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith all raised unfounded doubts about the last presidential election. None would affirmatively say that they knew who won the 2020 election — President Joe Biden won the election and numerous court cases and audits have not uncovered information that challenge that fact.

  • Fenton said that "we can’t tell what’s true,” but he knows there was “a lot of fraud” during the election; Smith said “it’s very unlikely that Joe Biden got 81 million votes” and said he’d support investigations into the 2020 election if elected; and Bolduc said “I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying Trump won the election, and damn it, I stand by [it].”

  • Bolduc and Fenton also said they support repealing the 17th Amendment, which allowed for the direct election of senators. Before that amendment was enacted, state legislators chose who would represent the state in the Senate.

  • Two candidates for the Republican nod in New Hampshire's Senate race endorsed repealing the 17th amendment, which provides for the direct election of senators, during a candidate forum on Sunday.

  • One candidate, former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith, started off his answer by saying it would be too late to repeal the amendment (check the 1:46:56 mark of the video for the question): "I think the genie's out of the bottle on this. And, look, I trust the people to elect the right people to go to Washington."

  • But retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, arguably the best known in the field following his unsuccessful 2020 bid for Senate, clapped back: "Yes, I would support its repeal. And I do trust you: I trust you to elect the right representatives to our statehouse and the right governor, so that they can make the right decision on what senator to send down to Washington, D.C. to work for you and not Washington, D.C. The genie's not out of the bottle — you can stuff that genie's head right back in there, throw his body in there, and put the cap on it."

  • A third candidate, bitcoin investor Bruce Fenton, agreed the amendment should go: "Yes, I'd support it because it brings more power to the people."

  • Calling for a review of the FBI, rather than retaliating against the federal law enforcement Trumpworld wants destroyed after last week's search of Mar-a-Lago, got Senate hopeful Kevin Smith booed during a debate at which New Hampshire Republicans tried to out MAGA one another.

  • Smith stepped in it Sunday, the New Hampshire Journal reported, by not being as reactionary as attendees of the Trump-aligned Government Integrity Project gathering would have liked.

  • "I believe at its core, it's a good institution, and I believe there are fine men and women who want to do their jobs and want to protect us," Smith said of the FBI. The audience audibly disapproved of the moderate position.

  • Two of the other candidates vying to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan this fall — failed 2020 Senate hopeful Don Bolduc and first-time candidate and crypto currency advocate Bruce Fenton — leaned into the outrage Donald Trump has been stoking online ever since federal agents retrieved highly sensitive documents from his Florida home.

  • "It's time to abolish the FBI and replace it with nothing," Felton told the crowd. "You shouldn't be able to raid a former president's house at any time," Bolduc offered in his defense of the embattled former president.

Punchbowl: News AM 8.15.22

  • Here’s an odd trend that was flagged to us by multiple people this weekend: Two top candidates running for the Republican Senate nomination in New Hampshire said during a debate that they’d support overturning the 17th Amendment. Yup, that’s the one that mandates popular election of U.S senators.

  • You also have some New Hampshire Senate GOP candidates asked during an event whether the FBI is a “terrorist organization.”


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