July 23 – NH Senate Speaker Chuck Morse, who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, struggles to distance himself from a crowded GOP field with a three-question mantra revolving around inflation, energy and immigration.
The Salem resident, who is president of Freshwater Farms & Garden Center in Atkinson, met with The Sentinel’s editorial board on Friday to discuss the issues he has been pushing on the campaign trail.
“We need to close the borders and make sure we end capture and release in this country,” he said, referring to the release of some detained immigrants pending hearings. “It’s important to me. We have 2 million people arriving, and we don’t know where they are going.”
Statistics suggest that illegal immigration has increased under the Biden administration.
The U.S. Border Patrol reported more than 1.6 million encounters with migrants along the southern border in the past fiscal year, up from just over 400,000 the previous year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. and nearly one million in 2019, before the pandemic and during the Trump administration.
Morse said he supports renewed efforts to build more miles of border wall, a project undertaken by Donald Trump but abandoned under Joe Biden.
Another priority for Morse is to improve the country’s energy policies. He blamed the high gas prices on the Biden administration.
“They’ve created an energy policy that’s definitely not working for this country,” Morse said. “They’ve driven up fuel prices in this country. You can’t just brush off the whole subject of fossil fuels and believe it won’t have an effect.”
Biden blames rising gas prices on Russia’s war in Ukraine and said last month that the price per gallon had risen nearly $2 a gallon in the United States since the conflict began. He also said the United States actually produces more oil now than under Trump.
The president has called for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to slow global warming, but as gas prices have risen in recent months he has also sought more domestic production as well as more oil from OPEC.
On climate change, Morse said it’s not fair for the United States to shoulder this burden while other countries, including China, aren’t doing enough.
“People talking to us about climate change on a national scale are flying jets, drinking wine and having discussions about how America is the only one that’s going to solve the problem,” he said.
Under Trump, the United States abandoned the Paris Climate Accord, which aims to tackle global warming. Biden, on his first day in office, began the process of rejoining that 192-country deal.
For his third point, Morse blamed Washington leaders for causing inflation through overspending.
New Hampshire has received more than $7 billion in federal COVID relief funds under Trump and Biden. The money has boosted unemployment compensation rates, paid for forgivable loans from the Business Payroll Protection Program, improved safety in nursing homes and helped people pay for housing expenses.
Morse said the money spent by the federal government during the pandemic should have come under closer scrutiny.
On other issues, Morse said:
He doesn’t believe Congress has a role to play in crafting abortion laws, and instead thinks it should be left to the states.
He does not support a change in gun laws to raise the age of purchase of an AR-15 style rifle from 18 to 21. (The shooter who killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school bought two such guns and dozens of rounds of ammunition on his 18th birthday.)
He championed the integrity of New Hampshire’s electoral system. He said he didn’t believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, but also said: ‘I think there were some abnormal things going on in other states. an investigation? Yes.”
In the primary, Morse faces a field that includes Kevin Smith from Londonderry, a former director of a Conservative advocacy group, and Don Bolduc, a retired army general, from Stratham.
Also in the running are Gerard Beloin of Colebrook; John Berman of Richmond; Bruce Fenton of Durham; Lee’s Dennis Lamare; Edmond Laplante Jr. of Richmond; Lincoln’s Vikram Mansharamani; Andy Martin from Manchester; and Tejasinha Sivalingam of Ashland.
Rick Green can be reached at [email protected] or 603-355-8567.