Morse and Mowers skip debates hosted by ‘Election Integrity’ group
“Would you say the FBI is a ‘terrorist organization’?” »
“Should we investigate Sen. Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi for their roles on January 6?
“Would you support the repeal of the 17th Amendment and refer the appointment of US senators to state legislatures?”
These are just some of the non-traditional questions posed to Republican candidates during two debates hosted by the Government Integrity Projectan organization that promotes claims that the 2020 election outcome is either uncertain or was outright stolen by Joe Biden and the Democrats.
Karoline Leavitt, one of the Republicans who contested Saturday’s election First Congressional District Debateleft no doubt about his position on the integrity of the 2020 vote.
“I’m the only candidate in this race to say that Joe Biden didn’t legitimately win 81 million votes. That’s nonsense,” Leavitt said.
The debate, which featured Baxter, Leavitt, Gail Huff Brown and Russell Prescott – but not presumptive frontrunner Matt Mowers – featured multiple references to the movie “2000 Mules,” which is hugely popular in the “Stop The Steal”. . There were also questions about the impeachment of US Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Participants’ response: Yes.)
Typical debate topics like inflation and education have also surfaced. But the audience was most animated when the conversation turned to allegations of voter fraud and government abuse.
“What happened during the raid was abominable. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be Melania and have people rummaging through my closets,” Huff Brown said. “How can we trust to the FBI when they do things like that?”
Although there were shots fired at Mowers for not showing up, they were surprisingly few and far between. Not surprisingly for an event focused on election issues, Huff Brown took the opportunity to ding Mowers to vote in the 2016 presidential primaries in New Hampshire and New Jersey.
Prescott, the most traditional GOP candidate in the race, has often seemed uncomfortable with the line of questioning and unfamiliar with some of the credentials from the Steve Bannon wing of Republican politics. He admitted not having seen “2000 mules” and, when asked if he would commit to holding a town hall meeting with the Government Integrity Project, Prescott said he should first investigate.
“Russell is the organization that organized this debate,” replied the host.
There have been no such missteps in Debate in the US Senate on Sunday when retired general Don Bolduc, Bitcoin millionaire Bruce Fenton and Londonderry City Manager Kevin Smith clashed – and faced very similar questions.
Absent from the action were State Senator Chuck Morse and entrepreneur Vikram Mansharamani. Fenton, who attacked Morse relentlessly during the New Hampshire Journal debate in June, did not let the senator’s absence go unnoticed. He used his opening remarks to deliver a message to Morse.
“There’s no shame in giving up because you can’t do it, Chuck. This is the big league. It’s the United States Senate, not the state Senate,” Fenton said. “It’s a big deal, not everyone can do it. I think Chuck served the establishment for 55 years or something.
“Chuck, I know you’re watching. There is no shame. You did the best you could.
Asked about Morse’s absence, campaign manager Joe Sweeney said, “Sen. Morse expressed regret to the organizers a few weeks ago that he was unable to participate in their debate due to pre-existing scheduling conflicts that could not be rearranged. He looks forward to participating in at least five debates or forums over the next four weeks leading up to the primary and will promote his Conservative record and platform to everyone.
Like Mowers on Saturday, Morse was rarely mentioned in the rest of the Senate debate. Instead, the questions focused on issues being discussed among far-right activists, such as “where do our rights come from” or the legitimacy of the investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. (Fenton called Jan. 6 “nothing burger” and said those upset by it were “brainwashed.”)
Smith was booed when he refused to support shutting down the FBI or declaring it a terrorist organization. Instead, he said he supported top-down scrutiny. “I believe deep down it’s a good institution, and I believe there are good men and women out there who want to do their jobs and want to protect us.”
Bolduc said political appointees must be held accountable by Congress, and he called the FBI’s actions at Mar-a-Lago illegitimate, no matter what is in Trump‘s house.
“You shouldn’t be able to raid a former president’s house in any time,” Bolduc said.
And again, Felton was very blunt: “It’s time to abolish the FBI and replace it with nothing.”
The candidates were united in their opposition to the new $739 billion version of Build Back Better and opposed to the Biden administration’s border policy. They adopted traditional GOP positions on parental control of education and the end of the federal Department of Education.
But for GOP political insiders, the most interesting debate concerned the decision of the various candidates to attend or avoid a debate that was aimed at the fringe of the party. Few pollsters or political professionals think topics like the 2020 “stolen election” conspiracy or FBI funding are winners in November.
Is it better to present yourself and answer questions, at the risk of being linked to extremism during the legislative elections; or avoid the debate and send a message to the most hardcore GOP base that you are unwilling to run?
“It wasn’t a debate, it was an in-kind contribution to the Hassan campaign,” a DC-based GOP strategist told the NHJournal after Sunday’s event. “We write his ads for them.”
Not everyone agrees. A New Hampshire Republican campaign veteran speaking in the background said Trump’s surge in support after the Mar-a-Lago raid and the former president’s ability to turn events to his advantage remind that no Republican can win by ignoring Trump-centric voters.
“You need to come forward and let them know they’re important to you, even if you can’t agree on everything. Some of them will just vote for the most pro-Trump candidate, but some will vote for a “fairly Trump” candidate who they think can win.
“But no one will vote for the candidate who does not run.”