The three Republican candidates vying to take on Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster this fall clashed over immigration and abortion Monday night during the New Hampshire Journal debate at Saint Anselm’s New Hampshire Institute for Politics.
Bob Burns, the “pro-Trump” candidate from Pembroke, spent most of the night on offense. He attacked his opponents, Weare’s Lily Tang Williams and Keene Mayor George Hansel, over their stances on illegal immigration.
Burns accused Tang Williams of supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and called out “Woke George’s sanctuary city, Keene.”
“So, you’re lying again, Bob, as usual,” Hansel responded. “Keene is not a sanctuary city.”
Hansel said Keene’s police chief assured him the department will cooperate with federal agents when enforcing immigration laws, as opposed to the policies in actual sanctuary cities where police do not assist federal immigration agents.
Tang Williams also accused Burns of lying about her record. She supports a pathway to citizenship for people who qualify for the DACA program, those brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children and who were raised in America. However, she said she does not support a pathway for people who came illegally as adults.
“Bob’s campaign has been attacking me from the very beginning,” Tang Williams said. “Who needs Democrats when you have Republicans attacking you?”
They also differ on abortion considering the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case. Burns said if elected he will push for a federal heartbeat bill that would limit abortions nationally.
“Instead of codifying Roe v. Wade, we should be codifying life,” Burns said.
Tang Williams supports the recent Supreme Court ruling to send the question of abortion back to the states, allowing local voters to make their own decision. Tang Williams does not support any new federal law regulating or banning abortion, saying the matter needs to be left to the people in each state.
“It should always belong to the states to let local people decide it,” she said.
Hansel, who is pro-choice, agrees with the Dobbs ruling, saying it allows states to craft laws that make sense for their own people. He does not support any federal law regarding abortion.
“This is an issue that is firmly with the states, which is where it belongs,” Hansel said. “This is a contentious issue, and the decisions belong as close to the people as possible.”
Hansel said voters are very concerned about record levels of inflation and soaring energy prices, issues where President Joe Biden’s administration has failed and they are not up for fighting more culture war battles.
“It’s all about inflation, it’s all about the higher costs that people are paying here in New Hampshire because of Joe Biden and Ann Kuster’s reckless Washington agenda,” Hansel said.
Both Tang Williams and Burns sent out press releases Monday night claiming victory in the debate.
The full debate, hosted by NH Journal, is available for streaming online at NH Journal’s Facebook page.