In case you missed it, the Union Leader’s Kevin Landrigan wrote about how the Republican Senate candidates broke one of the “first rules in electoral politics” during their first debate where, instead of introducing themselves to voters, all five candidates came “out swinging” and tried to “run down” each other. Bruce Fenton’s “favorite target was Senate President Chuck Morse of Salem" and "while the format gave Morse the chance to respond, he chose not to answer any potshots directed at him throughout the event.” Meanwhile, Kevin Smith took “a jab” at Don Bolduc, who said that Smith was “clueless” and “belittled Smith because he was ‘polling at two points’ and practicing ‘political theater.’” Read more below: Union Leader: GOP Senate hopefuls come out swinging, slinging
SO MUCH FOR ONE of the first rules in electoral politics:
In an initial political debate, it is always a good idea to spend your time introducing yourself to voters, not trying to run down your opponents.
Translation: Do no harm.
At this point, very few likely voters in the Sept. 13 Republican primary even know who the five major U.S. Senate candidates are, much less what they stand for.
The 90-minute debate sponsored by the New Hampshire Journal at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics offered plenty of fireworks a full week before Independence Day.
Bitcoin millionaire Bruce Fenton of Durham brought the most mud to the party, and his favorite target was Senate President Chuck Morse of Salem, who most observers have installed as the early frontrunner in this race.
When Morse declined to say precisely how he would have voted on the gun control law President Joe Biden recently signed, Fenton pounced.
“The answer is no. I would have voted no. And Chuck, you didn’t answer the question. And that’s exactly the problem of what’s going on in Washington. It’s folks like you go down there, you’re afraid to answer the question because you know (who) you are? You’re a rubber stamp,” Fenton said.
”You’d go down there and you’d vote the way they tell you to vote, because you don’t care about the gun rights. You don’t care about the New Hampshire citizens. You go. You care about going down there and being a dealmaker.”
While the format gave Morse the chance to respond, he chose not to answer any potshots directed at him throughout the event.
Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith got into the act, getting in a jab at retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc about U.S. policy in Ukraine.
“General, you did do a little bit of an about-face there because you were taken to task on Fox News for saying that we should have strategic military and CIA people on the ground in Ukraine. I think that is a bad strategy and I certainly wouldn’t support putting troops on the ground there,” Smith said.
Bolduc fired back, “I’d love to respond to that because he’s absolutely wrong. He doesn’t understand the operational environment and what’s going on there right now because he’s clueless. And yes, those were my words, but it didn’t include putting boots on the ground. He has no idea what he’s talking about.
“The town manager in Londonderry knows nothing about national security and strategy. I do. I lived it. I did it. I know what it takes to move stuff into a country. He does not.”
Later Smith said he told Bolduc he had “concerns about your temperament” and condemned him for making “disparaging remarks” about other GOP leaders, including Gov. Chris Sununu.
Bolduc belittled Smith because he was “polling at two points” and practicing “political theater.”
After the debate, Smith said he was surprised Bolduc refused to shake his hand.
“If you can’t take a little heat from me, how are going you going to handle attacks from Chuck Schumer?” Smith asked during a radio interview a few days later.
Fenton attacked Morse for “doing nothing” to stop mask requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic and demanded an apology for taking away freedoms from citizens.
“I don’t want to be there and I don’t want to go down to that swamp. You’re making me do it,” Fenton said.
At the end of last week, Fenton noted that TikTok had taken down a video of his attack against Morse for “bullying” and “harassment.”