CLAREMONT — Don Bolduc told his audience plainly what is wrong in the country today and why he feels called to go to Washington as U.S. senator from New Hampshire.
“What has happened over the past 40 to 50 years is that our politicians have removed God from the public square. And by removing God, we have undermined our institutions to the point where they are being led by unelected bureaucrats and career politicians to do the business of special interests,” Bolduc pronounced to a room of cheering supporters at the Claremont Senior Center earlier this week.
Bolduc, in his second Senate run after a primary loss in 2020, hit many of the familiar notes he has sounded on the campaign trail as the Republican nominee seeking to unseat Democrat incumbent Maggie Hassan: the federal deficit, government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, culture war touchstones, lack of respect for law and order, immigration, energy policy and border control.
On Tuesday, Bolduc added a new complaint: the Biden administration’s deployment of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division to Romania while a war wages next door in Ukraine with Russian invaders.
“If I was in the U.S. Senate today, I would have a referendum to stop that deployment because I believe it is an act of war,” said Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general who served 10 tours in Afghanistan and earned two Purple Hearts. He was responding to a question from an audience member asking for his opinion about the U.S. dispatching 4,700 soldiers to the NATO member country.
“I believe it is dangerous and Congress has a duty to stop it in its tracks,” he said. “How in God’s name are we going to be able to trust an administration that couldn’t do a withdrawal from Afghanistan?”
Bolduc, who praised the Ukrainians in their fighting against the Russians — “they’re doing a great job, they got this” — alleged the Biden administration has failed to do its job “diplomatically and politically” by convincing countries to stop buying Russian oil, the sale of which finances Russia’s war.
At moments sounding like a preacher leading a revival meeting, at others displaying self-deprecating humor and modesty, Bolduc commanded a standing-room-only audience of a couple hundred people who punctuated his 60-minute stump speech with shouts of ”Yeah!,” “No!” and applause when he hit favorite hot-button GOP issues or went off an anti-Hassan diatribe.
“Would you rather have your children raised with the values and principle and God-given rights embodied in the Declaration of Independence?” Bolduc asked.
“Yes!” the audience shot back.
Did they want to see “reduced sentences of violent criminals including pedophiles released into the community?” Bolduc challenged.
“No!” the audience responded in unison.
“Open up the Keystone pipeline!” Bolduc declared.
“Yeah!” the audience agreed, welcoming the pronouncement with a Texas gusher of applause.
Favorite conservative GOP targets — complaints of “woke” policies, “defunding” police, border control, inflation and taxes — all came in for a fusillade from Bolduc. He railed against critical race theory, Common Core and “transgenderism taught to our children” in New Hampshire public schools.
Bolduc warned that students have succumbed to peculiar habits, encouraged by tolerant school policies.
“We have a group called ‘fuzzies’ now who identify as cats and lick themselves. This is true,” claimed Bolduc, adding that as he has campaigned around the state “many people” have reported it to him.
School administrators “allow people to lick themselves, touch everything, and (they) spread germs,” Bolduc said, contending “fuzzies” are “in Dover, in Pinkerton, other areas. I’m not lying. Parents have told me.”
“Is this how you want your children raised?” Bolduc asked his audience.
“No!” the room answered.
Bolduc said that under Democrats the Internal Revenue Service has been granted sweeping powers because the Inflation Reduction Act has authorized the IRS to spend $80 billion to hire 87,000 more people to conduct audits. (The 87,000 figure comes from a Treasury Department estimate of how many new employees would need to be hired after current attrition of 50,000 employees and to level up after staffing cuts under the Trump administration.)
IRS agents are “going to knock on your door with guns and take what you own without due process,” Bolduc said.
Bolduc said he favors a “fair and flat tax … so that we don’t need an IRS,” and if elected senator, he would “request an audit” of the IRS, which “I don’t think they would pass,” he said.
Bolduc called the American form of government a “constitutional republic,” which Hassan “refuses to acknowledge.”
He then elaborated on his interpretation of American political philosophy, drawing a distinction between his view and what he ascribed as Hassan’s view.
“She won’t call (the U.S.) a constitutional republic,” Bolduc charged. “She calls it a democracy. Democracy is not what we have,” he said, explaining that the U.S. form of government employs “democratic principles” to “strengthen a constitutional republic.”
“But we’re not a democracy. Democracies fail,” Bolduc told the audience, without elaborating.
Bolduc argued that he favored government that is “bottom up,” which he termed “self-governance.”
He said that citizens should be “empowered” so that they can “dictate the terms” to elected leaders so they are not beholden to “lobbyists,” “special interests” and “wealthy political elites.”
Bolduc singled out the Department of Homeland Security for harsh criticism, and he blamed Hassan as a member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee for failing to hold DHS accountable in stopping opioids from flowing across the border.
“I’m going to make sure when I get down there the Secretary of Homeland Security (Alejandro) Mayorkas and his buddies in the DOJ get impeached,” Bolduc declared.
Moreover, he promised, “we’re going to bog down” President Joe Biden and “other Cabinet members so they won’t have time to screw up the country.”
Despite vowing to make every effort to hinder the Biden administration’s agenda, Bolduc wrapped up his one-hour talk with a call for bipartisanship with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, who would be Bolduc’s colleague in the New Hampshire delegation and whom he had hoped to unseat with his 2020 Senate run.
Citing how President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill and President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich overcame their wide political differences to work together, Bolduc said he would attempt to build a similar bridge with Shaheen.
Bolduc said if he won his “first phone call” would be to Shaheen.
“You and I have an opportunity to set an example for the entire Senate and country. Our economy out of control with spending. The safety and security of all Americans has to come before anything else. You and I need to stand together and get this done. We can agree to disagree all day on social issues but we have to come together on this,” Bolduc told the audience.
Contact John Lippman at firstname.lastname@example.org.