Retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc announced Monday that he would run for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire against Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen, setting up what may be one of the marquee congressional races of 2020.
Bolduc, who spent 32 years in the Army, said at his announcement that the current leadership in Washington haven't secured the border, addressed student debt, or ended the opioid crisis. Although Bolduc is running as a Republican, he did not refer to President Trump in his speech.
Bolduc told the crowd that he has nothing against Shaheen, who has been in the Senate since 2009, but that "she has been a part of failed leadership in Washington for too long." Bolduc also said that he would not "engage in personal destruction" as a candidate.
In an interview with CBS News, the two-time purple heart recipient applauded Mr. Trump's decision not to retaliate against Iran after they shot down a U.S. drone. "Two words," the former Brigadier General said. "Effective leadership."
Asked if he would support Republican efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, Bolduc told CBS News, "I'm pro-life." The Republican added that he has only three exceptions to this stance: "Rape, incest and health of the mother."
Despite a Republican majority in both the state Senate and state House, New Hampshire repealed its abortion restrictions back in 1997. Current Republican Gov. Chris Sununu describes himself as "pro-choice" and supports Roe v. Wade while opposing taxpayer funding of abortion.
Bolduc has recruited media consultant Josh McElveen and will be advised by Republican campaign operative Matt Mowers, a former campaign staffer for Trump's 2016 election and State Department senior official.
The campaign's announcement video features clips of Bolduc's mission in Afghanistan, where he led a special forces team against the Taliban following the September 11th attacks.
Clinton won New Hampshire by less than one percent in 2016, and Republicans are focusing on the state as a potential pickup opportunity for Mr. Trump in 2020 as well as a Senate battleground. Shaheen won her last race against Republican Scott Brown, a former Massachusetts senator and the current Ambassador to New Zealand, by a relatively narrow margin in 2014.
More Republican candidates are expected to join the race, including former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O'Brien. Gov. Chris Sununu, the top pick of many Republicans to face Shaheen, announced in May that he would forgo a Senate run and stay in the governor's office.
Bolduc recently appeared on CBS News' "60 Minutes" to talk about his experience with a new therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder called "stellate ganglion block," or SGB. He received the treatment in 2016 when he was the first, and so far only, active duty senior service member to say he suffered from PTSD. He said that SGB worked when all other traditional therapies failed.
Bolduc's announcement today was held in front of a memorial he made to the 72 soldiers he lost over 10 deployments. He called these men and women part of the "one percent" of Americans who serve in the armed forces.
New Hampshire Republicans say they're pleased to have Bolduc in the race. The New Hampshire Democratic Party, meanwhile, immediately criticized Bolduc for wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
According to the left-leaning Urban Institute, 89,000 New Hampshire residents would lose access to their health care if ACA was repealed.
Bolduc did not address health care in his announcement remarks, but he did tell a local Manchester radio station Monday morning that "the Affordable Care Act has its strengths and weaknesses, but the bottom line is we need a new healthcare policy in this country."
On Tuesday, the fledgling candidate will host his first campaign event: a roundtable in downtown Manchester addressing the opioid crisis, featuring local experts and impacted members of the community.