Hassan Dodges Domestic Terrorism Questions

Ayotte Campaign: ‘Deeply troubling that Governor Hassan doesn’t understand basic facts about the terrorist threats’

Maggie Hassan
Maggie Hassan / AP
September 20, 2016

New Hampshire Senate candidate Maggie Hassan dodged questions on Monday about terrorist threats in the wake of the attacks in New York City, New Jersey, and Minnesota.

WMUR, the state’s largest television station, pressed the Democratic governor on whether she thinks other terrorists may be living in the United States after suspected New York City bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami was apprehended following a shootout with police. "As this situation evolves I think we’ll learn more," she said.

"Given two chances Gov Hassan declined to say definitively whether she thought there were other potential attackers in the U.S.," WMUR reporter Adam Sexton said.

The Hassan campaign did not respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment seeking to clarify her position.

Hassan’s opponent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) told the station that the FBI’s caseload demonstrates that there are potential terrorists living in America.

"Unfortunately if you look at what our FBI does every single day, they have terrorism cases that are open in almost every single state in this country and they have arrested a number of individuals with ties to terrorism or those who are trying to support terrorism activities," she said.

Ayotte, who sits on the Senate Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, has made national security the centerpiece of her re-election campaign, and has frequently criticized Hassan’s inexperience in this realm. Ayotte spokesman Liz Johnson said that Hassan’s refusal to take a firm stand on terrorism demonstrates that she does not appreciate the threat posed by radicalized American citizens and residents.

"It’s deeply troubling that Governor Hassan doesn’t understand basic facts about the terrorist threats we’re facing," Johnson told the Free Beacon.

Ayotte has challenged Hassan, who has never held federal office, to a foreign policy debate sponsored by the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire. Gov. Hassan declined the organization’s invitation after agreeing to three television and two statewide radio debates. Johnson said that the explosions in New Jersey and New York, as well as the spree at a mall in Minnesota—all of which were carried out by suspected ISIS sympathizers—highlight the importance of national security issues in the election.

"It’s all the more reason why it’s so important for her to join Kelly for a national security debate so that New Hampshire voters can decide which candidate they trust to keep New Hampshire and our country safe," Johnson said.

Ayotte and Hassan are running one of the most competitive campaigns in the country in a race that is expected to determine the majority in the Senate. Ayotte now holds a 1.8 point margin over Hassan, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, a 6.5 point swing to the Republican since August.