Since winning the September 13 GOP primary, U.S. Senate nominee Don Bolduc has made at least 40 in-person, public campaign appearances, including a series of almost-daily town halls where he takes questions, unscreened, from the crowd.
Over that same 25-day period ending Saturday, how many live, public campaign appearances have incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan made?
And none of them allowed open access to the press.
In fact, in the nearly 100 days since the Fourth of July holiday, Hassan has made just 15 in-state, in-person campaign appearances — about one per week. Meanwhile, both during the primary and after, Bolduc has averaged more than two per day according to data provided by the campaign and confirmed by news reports and social media accounts.
Media coverage of the race has focused on ad spending. Hassan has a clear lead in that category. She started running TV ads last year and has spent at least $24 million on her campaign as of the latest FEC filing, compared to just over $500,000 by Bolduc. Democratic committees and Hassan’s own campaign are expected to spend at least another $25 million on ads on top of that when the campaign is over.
And while the National Republican Senatorial Committee has pulled its New Hampshire funding and shifted it to states like Arizona and Nevada, the Senate Leadership Fund is still on schedule to spend $23 million backing Bolduc. And TV ads are coming from conservative organizations like One Nation and Frontiers of Freedom.
Expensive TV ad wars are nothing new. The Senate battle between Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown ran up a $50 million tab. Unlike Hassan, however, Shaheen was also a common fixture out on the campaign trail, engaged in the traditional “retail politics” Granite State politicians pride themselves on.
Bolduc is making “Hidin’ Hassan” an issue in his campaign. He is hitting her for participating in just three debates (he has proposed seven), and for her to even appear on stage with him at an upcoming Nashua Chamber of Commerce event. As NHJournal first reported, Hassan’s campaign contacted the Chamber and demanded the scheduled debate be converted into a forum and pledging not to participate if she and the retired general were on stage at the same time.
In a follow-up article by The Epoch Times, Bolduc spokesperson Kate Constantini said Hassan also insisted Bolduc not be present when she speaks.
“He can’t even be in the audience,” said Constantini, “he has to stay in the green room.”
In a statement, Bolduc has called out Hassan for being a Granite State no-show.
“Sen. Hassan has spent too much time in Washington, D.C. if she thinks she can avoid debates and still convince voters to give her another six years in the Senate,” Bolduc said. “Her presence in the state is already woefully inadequate, and now she is trying to limit the number of times she has to answer difficult questions in an unscripted setting. From town hall meetings to retail stops to debates, I have been campaigning the New Hampshire way from day one.”
But is retail politics still “the New Hampshire way?” Or is the Granite State just another place where millions in TV ads are enough to win?
Granite State GOP political and media pro Alicia Preston Xanthopoulos said she thinks it is too early to write off the power of person-to-person campaigning.
“I think it takes both traditional ‘shake the hands’ campaigning combined with mail, radio, TV, and absolutely social media engagement, to reach the voters. In New Hampshire, the reality is, independents and undeclareds call the shots right now and they don’t attend political events,” Xanthopoulos explained. “But they do go to farmer’s markets and parades and fairs and spend time in shopping districts.
“The successful candidates will take an ‘all of the above approach’ in a general election. These races are far closer than most predicted. That’s why the Democrats wanted Karoline, Bolduc, and Burns on the ticket. But Bolduc is proof that hard work, a grassroots army, and a personal touch can make all the difference.”
Bolduc won the GOP primary without running any TV ads. Polls show he is in a single-digit race with Hassan despite her TV advantage.
As is her policy, Hassan declined to respond to press questions about her schedule. Her campaign and Senate offices also both refused to release her “public” schedule for the coming week. That allows her campaign to keep her in controlled environments, like a forum on the campus of Plymouth State University with the head of the left-wing group “End Citizens United.” Only a handful of students was allowed to attend this “public” Hassan campaign event, one of just four Hassan has held this month.
Hassan has also refused to hold a single open press event in the past three years.