Hassan Takes Heat for Repeating Talking Points

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan / AP

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New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan is taking heat for running a lackadaisical campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Hassan gave Politico, a Beltway political blog located many floors beneath the Washington Free Beacon, one of her few sit-down interviews since launching her campaign in October. The publication describes Hassan, a second-term governor, the “Democratic Party’s best Senate recruit of 2016,” but also focused on her shortcomings as a candidate. She came under criticism for relying on clichés about special interests rather than running on her record as governor.

“What this race will be about is whether we’re going to continue to have a senator who just protects special interests,” Hassan told Politico. “Or whether we’re going to have a senator, me, who will stand up for the people of New Hampshire.”

Such rhetoric led political reporter Burgess Everett to muse that Hassan “is looking to ride Hillary Clinton’s coattails to Capitol Hill.

“She repeated some variation of that 10 times. The strategy, of course, denies her opponents fodder for attacks. But it opens Hassan to criticism that she’s running a generic campaign and is looking to ride Hillary Clinton’s coattails to Capitol Hill. Ayotte argues that the state’s doing just fine with her in the Senate and that Hassan hasn’t made an affirmative case for her candidacy,” Everett wrote.

Hassan endorsed Clinton in the Democratic primary in September and has acted as a surrogate for the frontrunner in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Clinton, however, has not always returned the favor. The former secretary of state criticized Hassan and 30 other governors who have said they would block federal attempts to resettle Syrian refugees in their states at a December debate.

“I don’t think a halt is necessary,” Clinton said. “I do believe that we have a history and a tradition that is part of our value system and we don’t want to sacrifice our values. We don’t want to, you know, make it seem as though we are turning into a nation of fear instead of a nation of resolve.”

When Politico challenged Hassan on her controversial budget veto in July, she became guarded and returned to her talking points.

Asked three different ways about her controversial veto last year of the state budget over business taxes, a move that had critics calling her “Governor Gridlock,” Hassan stuck painstakingly to her script.

“What’s really important to me is that we have fiscally responsible balanced budgets,” she said.

As if on cue, she repeated nearly the exact same answer to two follow-up questions.

Hassan has limited her press availabilities to local outlets since announcing her challenge to first-term Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte on WMUR, the state’s largest TV station, in October. Conservative research firm America Rising criticized her for dodging the press.

“Governor Hassan took a break from ignoring the press to give an interview so robotic it would make one of the droids from Star Wars blush (if they could). By regurgitating stale platitudes in response to questions about her record and major policy issues, Governor Hassan showed she cares more about her political career than articulating a vision for New Hampshire,” America Rising PAC spokesman Amelia Chassé said in a release. “If Governor Hassan doesn’t come up with some real answers soon, it’s unlikely Granite State voters will send a walking talking point to the U.S. Senate.”

Bill McMorris   Email Bill | Full Bio | RSS
Bill McMorris is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He joins the Beacon from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, where he was managing editor of Old Dominion Watchdog. He was a 2010 Robert Novak Fellow with the Phillips Foundation, where he studied state pension shortfalls. His work has been featured on CNN, Fox News, The Economist, Colbert Report, and numerous print publications and radio stations. He lives in Alexandria, Va, with his wife and three daughters. His Twitter handle is @FBillMcMorris. His email address is mcmorris@freebeacon.com.

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