The language may not be soaring rhetoric, and the Hassan campaign was certainly quick to mock it. But political pros say Donald Trump’s endorsement of Republican Don Bolduc could help the retired general pull off an upset win against the incumbent Democrat.
Trump made the Bolduc endorsement in his own, unique — and some would say, not entirely helpful — way.
“General Don Bolduc has run a great campaign to be the U.S. Senator from the beautiful State of New Hampshire. He was a strong and proud ‘Election Denier,’ a big reason that he won the Nomination, but he then disavowed,” Trump posted on Truth Social Monday.
“He has since come back, at least on busing, but that is only a small part of N.H. Election Fraud. Nevertheless, Don Bolduc has asked for my Endorsement, and he’s got it, Complete & Total. His opponent is a disaster on Crime, the Border, Inflation, & all else. Vote for Don Bolduc!”
Emphasizing the “election denial” issue is a political headache Bolduc doesn’t need, adding to a narrative Hassan had already made part of her closing argument.
“Donald Trump said it himself: Don Bolduc is an election denier, and his endorsement is further evidence that if elected, Don Bolduc would work to overturn our elections and continue to promote dangerous conspiracy theories that undermine New Hampshire’s free and fair elections,” Hassan tweeted. The Hassan campaign has doubled down on their “election denier”/conspiracy theory case against Bolduc in recent days.
“General Bolduc welcomes the support of President Trump and anyone who wants to change the direction of this country,” said Bolduc spokeswoman Kate Constantini.
“Next week, Granite Staters will go to the ballot box with a litany of challenges before them: Inflation, energy shortages, soaring costs of food and school supplies, concerns about the ability to stay warm this winter. Sen. Hassan has no answers on the economic misery facing Granite Staters, so she is instead obsessing about the last election, desperately trying to scare voters. General Bolduc is focused on the future, not the past,” Constantini added.
Conventional wisdom says that Trump is politically toxic and he does more harm than good in a state he lost by eight points in 2020. But his endorsement also gives Bolduc the GOP trifecta for the first time: The support of DC Republicans, Gov. Chris Sununu, and now The Donald.
That is a major change from just two months ago, when Bolduc was under fire from Sen. Mitch McConnell’s PAC, opposed by Sununu, and unable to earn the Trump endorsement. In fact, Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski said in March that Bolduc’s intemperate comments about the Russian invasion of Ukraine “were disqualifying” to his candidacy.
Today, the entire GOP coalition is united behind Bolduc, and that is good news for the challenger. While it is true Trump’s endorsement might motivate some Democrats to turn out, sources close to the Bolduc campaign say it could also get some of Trump’s voters to turn out for Bolduc as well. In a close race, which is how this one looks, a few thousand non-midterm voters answering Trump’s call could swing the election for Republicans.
As for Trump’s negatives, some Republicans believe that concern is overstated. First, they point to national polls showing Trump essentially tied with Joe Biden in a theoretical match-up. In the new NHJournal poll, Biden’s approval in the Granite State is a dismal 40 percent, similar to where Trump has been polling.
Then there’s the fact that Democrats are already campaigning to maximize the anti-Trump vote. Rather than addressing inflation or crime, Hassan and her fellow Democrats are still focused on election denialism and abortion — there was another abortion press conference in Manchester on Monday — issues that energize their base. As a result, it is likely Democrats are already going to do well with the anti-Trump vote, with or without his endorsement. So, Bolduc might as well play that card.
As for Trump, GOP insiders note endorsing Bolduc is a no-lose. If he pulls off an upset, Trump can take credit. If Bolduc loses, it was what everyone expected.
“And besides,” one Republican insider told NHJournal, “you didn’t really expect [Trump] to stay out of this race, did you?”