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Image: Don Bolduc, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire
Don Bolduc, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, as he campaign in Auburn, New Hampshire on Oct. 5, 2022, .Mary Schwalm / AP file

GOP candidate in a key Senate race draws laughter at a debate

Don Bolduc's election conspiracy theories were so odd during his debate appearance, some in the audience couldn't help but laugh.


New Hampshire’s Don Bolduc, as much as any Senate candidate in the nation, has eagerly touted his enthusiastic embrace of Donald Trump’s “big lie.” In a recent interview with The New Yorker, the Republican candidate not only insisted there was systemic fraud in 2020 — there was not, in reality, systemic fraud — he also bragged about his willingness to reject certifying the 2024 results if elected.

As recently as August, Bolduc participated in a televised debate and stuck to his ridiculous position that the former president won the race he’d lost. “I’m not switching horses, baby,” the candidate said. “This is it.”

A month later, the Republican said he’d changed his mind, he’d done some “research,” and as it turns out, the 2020 race “was not stolen” after all. Then he changed his mind again: As we’ve discussed, Bolduc appeared on a podcast aligned with the QAnon delusion and expressed disappointment that “The narrative that the election was stolen, it does not fly up here in New Hampshire for whatever reason.”

Which story would the GOP candidate tell in yesterday’s debate? As HuffPost noted, Bolduc apparently went with his sincere beliefs — which some in attendance found literally laughable.

Bolduc returned to making claims about election fraud during his debate against Democratic opponent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) on Thursday. The Republican said “Granite Staters” tell him that school buses brought thousands of people into the state to vote illegally. The audience, however, appeared to be more amused than alarmed as he challenged the integrity of the state’s elections.

“You can laugh about it,” the candidate said about his thoroughly discredited conspiracy theories, “but people in New Hampshire aren’t laughing about it.”

Bolduc was, in a rather literal sense, talking to people in New Hampshire who were laughing about it.

As part of the same exchange, the Senate hopeful said he considered the discredited conspiracy theories as “valid” because he’d heard some people talking about them — which was right about the time I remembered the fact that New Hampshire’s Republican governor, Chris Sununu, conceded a couple of months ago that Bolduc is “not a serious candidate.”

A New York Times report added that the GOP nominee also said during the debate that he “stood by ‘Granite Staters’ who ‘can’t trust mail-in ballots,’ who believe in ‘proven irregularities’ with voting machines, and maintain that the state’s same-day voter registration rule ‘causes fraud.’”

In reality, there’s nothing wrong with mail-in ballots; there have been no proven irregularities with voting machines; and there’s still no evidence that same-day voter registration contributes in any meaningful way to voter fraud.

Perhaps my favorite moment from the debate came when incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan complained that Bolduc had spent the last year “stoking the big lie.” The Republican interrupted her to say, “Two years.” He then looked at the audience and held up two fingers.

In other words, Hassan accused her opponent of spending a year acting like a conspiratorial nut, and Bolduc was bothered because she was understating the length of time he’d acted like a conspiratorial nut.

Election Day is just 11 days away. Recent polling has found Hassan’s lead dwindling to low single digits.