We kick off our 2016 "Conversations with the Candidates" series with Governor Maggie Hassan, the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee. Hassan's race against incumbent Senator Kelly Ayotte is one of the most highly-watched in the nation. We ask the Governor about the big issues at stake: from national security to gun laws to money in politics.
Maggie Hassan - New Hampshire Governor and Democratic U.S. Senate nominee for 2016.
Here are a few highlights from the discussion:
Q [Josh Rogers, Senior Political Reporter at NHPR]: You talk a great deal about bipartisanship, which is understandable given you've led over a divided government, but your record as a state senator, which is a position more similar to being in the U.S. Senate, shows far less in the way of bipartisanship. So is your embrace of bipartisanship situational?
A: I really reject the premise of the question. One of the very first things I did in the New Hampshire State Senate was help broker a bipartisan deal to overturn a very bad healthcare law... What we've done in New Hampshire is come together, have our disagreements to be sure, but made progress with bipartisan agreements.
Q [Audience Member Sheila from the Manchester Young Professionals Network]: As you know, the CARA [Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act] bill has passed both the House and the Senate and is now law, but there is no appropriation. What will you do as a U.S. Senator to ensure states have the resources they need to support substance abuse disorder, prevention, treatment, and recovery services?
A: What I would do in the U.S. Senate is continue to work with members of both parties to really advocate for and secure that funding... One of the things you are seeing right now is a majority in the U.S. Senate that just says "no" to common sense things like emergency funding... We need to change the way that Senate is running.
Q [Laura Knoy]: How do you feel about [the] criticism, Governor Hassan, that fears about refugees are misplaced, that those are the last people we should really be looking at as harmful?
A: I think when you listen to the FBI and CIA directors, and also we know that ISIS has targeted the refugee system, it's appropriate to take a temporary pause and make sure it is safe... It's also really important that we not demonize any single group or entity and that we continue to be the welcoming country that we always have been. But the two are not mutually exclusive.
Q [Audience Member Mike from the Manchester Young Professionals Network]: Here in New Hampshire, families are spending more money per month on child care than they are on rent. As Senator, what will you do to make child care costs more affordable and more accessible?
A: One of the things we could do is invest more in early childhood education and child care, working to lower the costs for families. We can offset the cost of that by closing some of the unnecessary tax loopholes that we can't afford, for instance, the ones that give tax breaks to outsourcers or ones for big oil.