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The Republicans Running to Support Donald Trump

The Republicans Running to Support Donald Trump

Across the country, candidates who support Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election are running for office, promising to replace fellow-Republicans who went along with certifying last year’s results. Republicans are favored to take back both houses of Congress in 2022 and tighten their grip on state houses, raising urgent questions about whether the Party, which largely proved unwilling to support Donald Trump’s push to overturn the election last year, might be more amenable to doing so in 2024.

One of those candidates is Don Bolduc, a retired Army general and the only Republican who has declared his candidacy for next year’s U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire against the Democratic incumbent, Maggie Hassan. Establishment Republicans in Washington are hoping that New Hampshire’s governor, Chris Sununu, will also challenge Hassan, in part because Bolduc has firmly attached himself to Trump, praising the former President frequently and signing a letter with other former military leaders claiming election fraud. Trump has not yet endorsed a candidate in the race, but he recently released a statement praising Bolduc’s attacks on General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Trump and Biden.

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Bolduc’s hard right turn follows a storied career in the military, during which he served as a Green Beret in Afghanistan and commanded Special Operations Forces in Africa. After multiple combat deployments, Bolduc reported that he suffered from P.T.S.D. and a traumatic brain injury, leading him to undergo years of treatment; he became an advocate for more understanding of soldiers and veterans with mental-health-related issues. I recently spoke with Bolduc by phone about his military career and his decision to run for Senate. I wanted to understand just how far the next crop of conservative candidates might go in their loyalty to Trump. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we also discussed the events of January 6th, his recent conversation with the former President, and his vision for the future of the Republican Party.

What is it that you want to bring to the Senate?

I believe that I’m going to bring effective leadership to the United States Senate, along with a grassroots mentality that doesn’t exist there right now, and a non-career-politician view. Even though I am a Republican, I find the political-party system to be very corrupt, dysfunctional, and it creates a lot of problems for the American people. I’m not tied to the establishment, so I get to be somebody who represents the people that sent them there, and not special interests and lobbyists that a lot of these Senators are tied to.

This reminds me a little bit of former President Trump. Can you talk about his appeal?

I think that President Trump’s appeal, certainly for me, was exactly that. In addition to that, I felt that my values and principles as an American, and the Constitution, which I served for thirty-three-plus years in the military, was safe with President Trump. I didn’t think so with President Biden.

Do you think that that stems from Trump’s reading and understanding of the Constitution?

I think so. I think it goes with the fact that President Trump does respect the American philosophy, which is based in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He’s not a career politician, because I honestly believe that career politicians, over time, drift further and further away from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Even though he was a multibillionaire, my sense with him was that he was more in touch with the American culture than you see with a lot of the politicians. He was, like all of us, very concerned about what professional athletes did by kneeling to the American flag. He spoke out about that, where a lot of other career politicians wouldn’t do that. I think President Trump also has a better understanding of American history and how American history is supposed to play itself out. We’re supposed to use our history to make the future better, and I think he was very focussed on making the future better.

You and some other retired military leaders recently signed a letter about election fraud. Can you tell me why you signed that letter, and what its importance is?

I signed that letter because I thought there was a tremendous amount of fraud. My initial perspective was from New Hampshire, right? We’ve had a significant amount of fraud here. Our governor is in denial, in large part because he benefits from it, and so do all the federal Democratic incumbents. They all benefitted from it. Statistically, they won by margins that were mathematically impossible and defied common sense.

When I’m travelling around all ten counties, the No. 1 question I get is this: “I understand why you’re running. I agree with your whys. However, we can’t win. It’s rigged. Why would someone like you want to subject themselves to a process that is, by its very definition and character, unfair, and you don’t have a chance?” That’s the No. 1 question I get. Isn’t that amazing?

It is. I have a theory I want to run by you. I hear a lot of Republicans in Washington talking about voter fraud or a rigged election, but they don’t really mean it. They’re just trying to go along with President Trump, because they think that they need to do that to survive, but it seems like you are much more sincere about it, that you really feel that this stuff happened.

I do. I very much believe it and I think it exists, and I think it happens and it’s been happening for a long time in this country. When you try to steal the Presidency, a lot of people are going to go, “O.K., wait a minute. What the hell’s going on here?”

Waterville Valley, in the state of New Hampshire, had a-hundred-and-ninety-four-per-cent voter turnout. How can that be? How can you have over a hundred per cent of people in Waterville Valley voting? [Bolduc told The New Yorker that he was citing preliminary statistics from a Facebook group of amateur canvassers.] You can’t. It’s impossible. That’s just one, and there are a number of places across New Hampshire that have overages in the number of people in their town, the number of people registered, compared to the number of people that voted. That doesn’t make sense.

Let’s go back to my theory about how you’re one of these people who is very sincere in your beliefs, because we saw with Republican Senators that a lot of them made noises about, Oh, maybe there’s some voter fraud. But almost all of them voted to certify the election. It seems like you’re saying to the people of New Hampshire that if you are elected in 2022, and are serving in 2024, when certification comes before the Senate again, you wouldn’t just talk the talk—you would walk the walk. Is that accurate?

The Republicans Running to Support Donald Trump