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Mitch McConnell-aligned super PAC pulls out of New Hampshire Senate race

At the beginning of this midterm cycle, incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan was considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats on the November ballot. Hassan barely defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in 2016, and was unpopular in poll after poll among New Hampshire voters.

However, in the latest sign that Republicans believe that the path for victory in the Granite State is just too steep for Hassan's far-right Republican challenger Don Bolduc, the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) – the super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – confirmed to CBS News Saturday that it is canceling $5.6 million in television advertisements it had in reserve for the final two weeks before the Nov. 8 election.

This was first reported by the New York Times.

"As the cycle comes to a close, we are shifting resources to where they can be most effective to achieve our ultimate goal: winning the majority," SLF president Steven Law told CBS News in a statement.

Bolduc hasn't stopped making controversial statements since the GOP primary, where he defeated moderate rival Chuck Morse in an upset win, and after national Republican groups had attempted to boost Morse. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu once labeled Bolduc a "conspiracy theory extremist."

Bolduc, a former Army brigadier general, has proposed abolishing the FBI after the search at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, and has peddled election denialism, though he seems to have backtracked since winning the primary.

Republican Senate candidate Don Bolduc
Republican Senate candidate Don Bolduc shakes hands with attendees during a campaign event on Oct. 15, 2022, in Derry, New Hampshire.  Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Bolduc said in a Fox News interview that while he still believes there was fraud, "elections have consequences, and, unfortunately, President Biden is the legitimate president of this country."

He then flip-flopped again at town hall this month:

"I can't say that it was stolen or not, sir," in response to a question from a New Hampshire voter, according to the Associated Press. "I don't have enough information. But what I can say is that we have irregularities. We have fraud."

Trump did not make an endorsement in the GOP primary, but supported Bolduc after he defeated Morse.

CBS News obtained audio from a town hall with Bolduc earlier this month, in which he referred to "gentlemen" legislators as the best voice for women on abortion. It's the latest in a series of comments that Bolduc has made about abortion rights that has sparked criticism.

"It belongs to the state," Bolduc said in the audio. "It belongs to these gentlemen right here who are state legislators representing you as the best way I think as a man, that women get the best voice, at the state level, not at the federal level. And it's really Sen. Hassan that doesn't understand this, and she needs to get onboard with the Supreme Court decision."

Hassan has made abortion rights a central part of her reelection campaign. The New Hampshire primary which Bolduc won in mid-September came near the end of primary season, and Democratic groups spent in the race to help boost Bolduc, viewing him as the more extreme candidate, and one Hassan would be more likely to beat.

The latest Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Hassan with a 5-point lead.

In an interview with a local reporter last month, when discussing abortion rights, Bolduc said Hassan needs to "get over it," and that the election is about the economy.

Bolduc has also repeatedly said he would not back McConnell as Senate majority leader if he won and Republicans took back the Senate.

"I have said no to that question, and I am not backing off," Bolduc told Politico.

The withdrawal by SLF comes after the National Republican Senatorial Committee earlier this month withdrew money it had in reserves for broadcast spending for the New Hampshire Senate race – and instead designated it for other battleground states.

Bolduc has been trailing Hassan in every poll since he won his primary. In a recent AARP poll, Hassan leads Bolduc by 7 points.

Hassan has also dwarfed Bolduc when it comes to fundraising. Bolduc reported just $92,000 in cash in late August, according to the Federal Election Commission. Hassan's cash-on-hand total was over $7 million during the same period.

Outside GOP groups, like SLF, had initially stepped in to help him in New Hampshire, but this latest move is a sign that GOP groups may consider any added investment into this race as a possible waste of money.

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