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Report from NH: Could GOP Conspiracy Theorist General Don Bolduc Defeat Sen. Maggie Hassan?

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We speak with New Yorker staff writer Sue Halpern about the Senate race in New Hampshire, where she says far-right Republican nominee Donald Bolduc is running a “vigorous campaign” against the incumbent Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan and spreading conspiracy theories that some schoolchildren were using litter boxes. “If Maggie Hassan loses, the Democrats might well lose the Senate,” says Halpert, adding that New Hampshire is “a very swingy state” and the midterm outcomes there could surprise many people.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Sue, we’d like you to stay with us. We have two questions on pieces you’ve written. We’re talking to you in Exeter, New Hampshire. The Guardian newspaper reported last week, “A New Hampshire school has rebuked the Republican US Senate candidate Don Bolduc for claiming schoolchildren were identifying as ‘furries and fuzzies’ in classrooms, using litter trays and licking themselves and each other. …

“In the audio, Bolduc said: ‘Guess what? We have furries and fuzzies in classrooms. They lick themselves, they’re cats. When they don’t like something, they hiss — people walk down the hallway and jump out.

“‘And get this, get this. They’re putting litter boxes, right? … These are the same people that are concerned about spreading germs. Yet they [let children] lick themselves and then touch everything. And they’re starting to lick each other.’”

I mean, it is astounding. It is a refrain that is being used by Republican candidates around the country: get litter boxes out of schools. Though they aren’t in schools. But this general, also fiercely anti-choice, a Trump ally, is in an extremely close race with the Democratic incumbent Senator Maggie Hassan. What have you been finding there?

SUE HALPERN: You know, it’s really interesting. I went to General Bolduc’s last town hall meeting, which was last night. It was very well attended. And I expected a kind of Kari Lake, you know, just rabble-rouser, kind of chest-thumping guy. In fact, he came across as being very reasonable, moderated tone, friendly. He said nothing about furries. He said very little about abortion. He said almost nothing that was sort of off the general Republican playbook. It was quite interesting. Obviously, he really hasn’t walked back a lot of the things that he said in the press, but he didn’t mention any of them last night, in his attempt, I think, to kind of calm the independent spirit of Republican voters here in New Hampshire who may not be sort of all in for Trump but are all in for the Republican agenda.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And your sense of what it would signal if Maggie Hassan loses this race tonight, or what it might signal for the overall Democratic hopes of retaining the Senate and the House?

SUE HALPERN: Yeah, I mean, if Maggie Hassan loses, the Democrats might well lose the Senate. I think that Bolduc has actually run a very, very vigorous campaign. He’s been campaigning for two years. He’s gone to every single town and city in the state. He knows a lot of people. And I think that people want to feel like they’re being heard, and, you know, there he is. He’s there. He’s listening. So, you know, it’s a very swingy state, New Hampshire. They like to break the mold. And this might be one of the ways that they do it. They also have a very, very vigorous young congressional candidate named Karoline Leavitt, who is also very popular. She worked for Trump. She’s much more of a Trump cheerleader, I think, than Bolduc, who was not endorsed by Trump but, you know, who clearly subscribes to sort of the Trump sensibility.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, we have less than a minute, but you just finished a piece on election software, particularly in Georgia. What did you find?

SUE HALPERN: So, there’s a county in Georgia called Coffee County, which, by the way, is a deeply Republican county. But Sidney Powell, Trump’s lawyer, paid a forensic company to go in there and copy all of the election software in Coffee County. But it turns out that Georgia uses the same voting machines and software on all of its voting equipment. That attempt to — or, it was actually a very successful attempt to copy all of the software, and all of the data was then given to some election deniers, who we’ve seen active in other states. And so, we don’t really know what they might do or have done with that software. Hopefully, you know, the kinds of protections that are in place will make that very hard to use, but we just don’t know.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Sue Halpern, we want to thank you for being with us, staff writer at The New Yorker, her latest piece headlined “The Political Attack on the Native American Vote,” scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College in Vermont, where we will be going tonight in our three-hour midterm election night special. We will be broadcasting, speaking with people from all over the country as this pivotal election takes place.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we look at Election Protection. Stay with us.

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