A telling snapshot of the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race: Republican Don Bolduc campaigning with a Democrat he disagrees with on many key issues while Sen. Maggie Hassan won’t campaign with the Democratic president she has voted with more than 96 percent of the time.
It was a “strange bedfellows” weekend in Granite State politics. Tulsi Gabbard, the former congresswoman who ran for president as a Democrat in 2020 and is widely credited with ending Kamala Harris’s White House bid, was on the campaign trail with Bolduc.
The retired general who is trailing in the polls admitted he does not agree on much with Gabbard, who just left the Democratic Party last week. But Bolduc called her “a fellow change agent and independent-minded outsider willing to speak truth to power.”
Democratic state party chair Ray Buckley attacked Gabbard as a “Vladimir Putin apologist who has pushed conspiracy theories and stood with dangerous tyrants over the United States.” The chairman’s attacks might have had more force if he hadn’t appeared with her at the state party’s McIntyre-Shaheen fundraising dinner in 2020 and sat at Gabbard’s table with her when she spoke at Politics and Eggs during the campaign.
Meanwhile, Hassan was in Concord with former Alabama Senator Doug Jones. Hardly a household name, even among active Democrats, Jones is a liberal Democrat sometimes known as the “Scott Brown of Alabama.” He won a fluke special election in a deep red state — thanks almost entirely to Republicans nominating a candidate credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors. When the seat came back up in the 2020 general election, Jones lost his bid for re-election by 20 points.
According to a political ally in Alabama, Jones “openly and ardently supported George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton. Jones is a true-blue, liberal, national Democrat.”
The same could be said of Hassan. Interestingly, nobody is saying it. Hassan has yet to release an ad that identifies her as a Democrat or mentions President Joe Biden. And when Biden made a surprise visit to Portsmouth earlier this year, none of the Democrats running for re-election appeared on stage with him.
Biden spent the weekend in Oregon, California, and Colorado. The president also plans to campaign against Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida and for Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in Pennsylvania.
But no stops in New Hampshire are on the schedule for any of the state’s Democrats. Not even Rep. Chris Pappas, whose seat is considered a tossup as Republicans continue to invest in his challenger, Karoline Leavitt.
Perhaps that is due in part to a new Fox News poll showing a majority of Americans think Biden lacks the mental soundness to do the job of president (40-56 percent) and just 33 percent of Americans say they would vote to re-elect him. That is below Trump’s lowest re-elect number (36 percent).
And the new Harvard-Harris poll found Biden’s job approval is flat at 42 percent. It hasn’t been above 45 percent in more than a year.
Asked if she wants Biden to come to the Granite State and campaign for her, Hassan gives the careful answer that “the president is always welcome in New Hampshire.”
Like Hassan, Rep. Annie Kuster was also on the campaign trail this weekend with an unknown Democrat, Pennsylvania Rep. Madeliene Dean. Kuster and Dean were hitting the issue of abortion hard, and Kuster is blessed with a GOP opponent, Bob Burns, who has an abortion restriction policy far outside the mainstream in New Hampshire.
But on WMUR’s Close Up that aired Sunday, Kuster gave her own confusing answer about abortion, saying the decision should be left entirely to women and their doctors. But she also said she supports some restrictions on abortion in the third trimester, or “after viability.” Then she added that any restrictions should allow for late-term abortions to preserve the “mental health of the mother.
“I know there are women who are suicidal” and need an abortion, Kuster said.
Polls show the political bump Democrats have gotten from abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision is fading as economic issues move up the priority list. Four percent of respondents picked abortion as their top issue, down from eight percent earlier this summer.
The top issues? Inflation, the economy, and immigration. Just 39 percent of Americans said they approved of how Biden was handling the economy. On immigration, it was 38 percent.