A candidate in the U.S. Senate race is out with a new ad promising to take on President Joe Biden and her fellow Democrats to lower gas prices for the average American.
No, it is not another Republican entering the crowded GOP primary, but endangered incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. Fresh off her poorly-received trip to the southern border where she was criticized for calling for more wall construction, Hassan’s new ad distances the first-term incumbent from her party and president.
“I’m taking on members of my own party to push a gas tax holiday,” Hassan says in the ad out Monday. “And I’m pushing Joe Biden to release more of our oil reserves. That’s how we lower costs and get through these times.”
Hassan’s ad is getting noticed by national political reporters who see it as another signal Democrats in competitive races will be running away from Biden as the midterms approach.
“We’ve seen plenty of ads from Republicans this election cycle seeking to pin blame on Biden and congressional Democrats for higher gas prices,” writes The Washington Post. “In a new ad from New Hampshire, Sen. Maggie Hassan, a vulnerable Democrat, has now embraced the issue, too.”
“New ad for Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who continues to distance herself from Biden ahead of November,” tweeted Natalie Allison of Politico.
And in an article headlined, “This ad tells you a whole lot about Joe Biden’s political problems,” CNN’s Chris Cillizza said notes Hassan is willing to be openly critical of the sitting president.
“[Hassan’s] message is unmistakable,” Cillizza wrote.
“1) Gas prices are a major problem in the country.
2) Biden and Democratic leaders aren’t doing enough to solve it.
3) Hassan isn’t afraid to tell her party — and her President — that they need to do better.”
Not every New Hampshire Democrat is delighted by Hassan’s campaign tactics.
“Maggie is going to lose her base if she tries to separate herself from Biden by running to his right,” tweeted state Rep. Eric Gallager (D-Concord) “Biden has been doing a much better job than she has. This has been seen most recently on Title 42 where Biden was on the right side of it, and Maggie was on the wrong one.”
Party activist Carlos Cardona dinged Hassan for her ad, saying she should be focusing on liberal priorities instead, like those found in Biden’s abandoned Build Back Better bill.
“If our Senator is serious about helping Granite Staters, she should start by not giving away money to gas companies. Pass the #ChildTaxCredit or do a form of #UBI for all #NHPolitics,” Cardona tweeted.
Rebecca Beaulieu with the environmental activist group 350 NH said Hassan should do more to help with climate initiatives instead of helping oil companies’ profit.
“Sen. Hassan should instead be calling for a Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax: this would raise billions of dollars that could be sent to Americans to help with the costs of high gas prices. Big oil doesn’t deserve to make huge profits off the climate crisis they created. Exxon, Chevron, and other big oil companies are making huge profits because of their high gas prices,” Beaulieu said.
Republicans say they are delighted to see Hassan attacking Democrats, believing it will only discourage her party’s base without converting any independents. They note she has voted with President Biden 98 percent of the time. “Maggie Hassan’s campaign strategy is to pretend she has no voting record. She is trying to completely remake herself in the final seven months of the race and pretend no one notices. Well, everyone does notice and won’t be fooled so easily,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson T.W Arrighi said Monday.
Don Bolduc, one of the Republicans running in a primary to unseat Hassan, said there is no way to separate her policies from Biden’s.
“Sen. Hassan promising relief on gas prices is the equivalent of an arsonist saying they can help put out a fire. The Biden-Hassan anti-energy agenda got us here, and the only way out is sending Hassan packing” Bolduc said.
Bruce Fenton, the crypto-millionaire running in the primary, blames Hassan’s staff for the incoherent messaging, and Hassan for failed leadership.
“Her marketing consultants and handlers seem sort of all over the place, so it’s not really clear what she’s attempting to say she stands for,” Fenton said. “Her voting record speaks for itself. Politicians who support terrible policies always try to distract voters, but this won’t work this time.”
Fenton might have a point. While Hassan has recently been vocal in pushing for a gas tax holiday during the inflationary price spikes, she was also responsible as governor for saddling New Hampshire families with an additional $240 million in gas taxes since 2014. Hassan’s four cents a gallon hike, passed in 2014, added $30 million a year in new taxes. It was at the time the first increase in decades.
And Hassan has long supported restrictions on oil and gas production, including Biden’s decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline, a move the senator continues to support.
Kevin Smith, the former Londonderry town manager in the running to challenge Hassan, said the senator keeps stealing positions from the GOP as she frantically tried to win reelection.
“If Hassan keeps trying to run from her far-left record at this rate, by the time September rolls around she will have called for the election integrity she voted against, decried the out-of-control spending she voted for, and railed against Biden’s foreign policy disasters she stood silently by. It’ll be interesting to see how her first speech at CPAC is received given her long, far-left record that runs contrary to her election-year moderate makeover rhetoric,” Smith said.
State Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said Hassan’s political maneuvering is obvious, and won’t fool any voters.
“Maggie Hassan votes for Joe Biden’s agenda and nominees 98 percent of the time. It’s laughable she would even try to distance herself from her best friend in the Washington Swamp with her latest gimmick ad,” Morse said. “Whenever President Biden comes to New Hampshire, she’s there for the photo-op. We need real, American First energy solutions to combat our current problems – not gimmicks from someone who did nothing while Keystone was shut down and we started funding dictators’ bloody war machines across the globe instead of producing oil in North America. When I’m in the U.S. Senate, I’ll actually take on Joe Biden and his backward energy policy head on.”