In case you missed it, a new story from The New Yorker outlines Don Bolduc’s disastrous attempts to hide his extreme record from voters and Bolduc’s struggles on the campaign trail.
Read highlights from The New Yorker below:
The New Yorker: The Curious Case of Donald Bolduc
By Benjamin Wallace-Wells
The 2022 midterm race features a generation of emerging Republican politicians who have spent years moving back and forth between more or less conventional conservative positions and ones that were self-consciously extreme and, in some cases, profoundly illiberal.
[…] A particularly eye-catching example emerged this month in New Hampshire, where Donald Bolduc, a retired brigadier general, won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Bolduc is sixty years old, short, and muscular, with the high energy of a late-middle-age N.F.L. referee. He ran as a pugnacious Trumpist outsider, and if he had a singular talent it was for turning outrageous positions into good sound bites. He called the state’s very popular Republican governor, Chris Sununu, a “Chinese Communist sympathizer” and alluded, in a 2020 campaign for the Senate, to the conspiracy theory that the coronavirus vaccine was a Trojan horse for a plot by Bill Gates to implant microchips in unwitting Americans: “The only chip that’s going inside me is a Dorito,” Bolduc had said, pretty memorably. He was especially clear about his conviction that the Democrats and Joe Biden had stolen the Presidency from Trump. At a debate on August 14th, he told the audience, “So, I signed a letter with a hundred and twenty other generals and admirals saying that Trump won the election and, dammit, I stand by my horse. I’m not switching horses, baby. This is it.”
[…] He appeared on Fox News and explained that he’d had a change of heart when it came to the 2020 election. “I’ve done a lot of research on this, and I’ve spent the past couple weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state from every party, and I have come to the conclusion—and I want to be definitive on this—the election was not stolen.” Bolduc went on, “Elections have consequences and, unfortunately, President Biden is the legitimate President of this country.”
Even in the long history of the political flip-flop, so quickly and casually reversing on the matter of whether democracy is rigged and the Presidential election stolen breaks new ground. Not long after Bolduc’s appearance on Fox News, I visited his campaign’s Facebook page, which was experiencing a vituperative backlash from both sides: those who were certain that he was disingenuously distancing himself from Trump’s attacks on democracy out of political necessity, and those who suspected that he had disingenuously supported them in the first place. One Douglas Johnson wrote: “So you managed to get the GOP nomination partially based on that lie, now in the general election you have backed off because of ‘reflection.’ Gotta put on a more moderate face for the non-maga crowd?” Another commenter, Joe Carol Chem, articulated a different view: “If you continue to say Biden won the election legitimately, you are either lying or deceived! Which is it?”
These are all very good questions.
[…] Bolduc’s stump speech ran almost ten minutes, and by the end a plain truth had surfaced: he just wasn’t very good at this. Bolduc barely touched on the economy, saying just that New Hampshire needed a senator who would “say ‘hell no’ to inflation,”
[…] Bolduc didn’t echo his statement that Biden was legitimately elected (he said nothing about it either way), and he sounded the same maga notes he always had. Driving away, I thought through the evidence. If Bolduc had never believed that the election was stolen, then he had spent many months building a political identity around a lie, offering lengthy explanations in support of it and voicing political views in line with those of other people who believed it, even though the position carried some legal risk and limited political advantage. On the other hand, if he had always believed that the election was stolen, then he had lied exactly once, at a time that would have accorded him maximum political advantage (since he needed to persuade swing voters to give him a second look and Republican donors that he wasn’t a lost cause) and then immediately stopped lying. One of these versions was much easier to believe than the other.
On the day of the event in Hollis, Bolduc appeared on “The Mel K Show,” a fringe podcast that the Times described as “aligned with the QAnon conspiracy movement,” where he insisted that there had been fraud in the 2020 election which needed investigating, the very position he had seven days earlier disavowed. He also hinted at why he might have said on Fox News that Biden had been legitimately elected, even if he didn’t believe it. “The narrative that the election was stolen,” Bolduc said, “it does not fly up here in New Hampshire, for whatever reason.” As a description of the preferences of New Hampshire voters, this was broadly right and suggested that he’d been paying attention to something: polls of general-election voters, or even their reaction at his events. As an account of his own flip-flop, it gave the game away.