Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Donate to NHPR before Monday at 7 P.M. (12/4) and you'll be entered to win a new generator!
0000017a-15d9-d736-a57f-17ff8f680000Coverage of the 2016 races in New Hampshire, from the White House to the State House.

Rubens Says 'Voters Are Ready For A Change' In Senate Race

  Jim Rubens is a former state senator who ran for US Senate in 2014. He’s challenging Kelly Ayotte in this year’s Republican primary. 

We’ve heard all about the deep differences between factions of the Republican party – usually described as a contest between the establishment and the grassroots. Rubens sees the same split in this state’s GOP. 

He joined Weekend Edition to talk about the campaign. 

You’ve described Sen. Ayotte as “divorced” from the Republican Party base. Was there a particular issue or vote that convinced you that was the case?

Many votes, but just to begin, we’ve got two establishment candidates – one Democrat, one Republican, Maggie Hassan and Kelly Ayotte, who are raising millions of dollars in Washington money. They’re screaming Armageddon if one or the other of them gets elected, and they vote in an extremely similar fashion on all the major issues. They’re substantially the same candidate. I’m running to provide an alternative to these candidates – [on] debt and spending, the issue of a national security strategy that works to keep Americans safe, jobs and prosperity bringing brought back to middle income families in the country. These I have distinctly different positions on from these other candidates and from Kelly Ayotte.

How do you define “establishment”? You’re saying that the incumbent Republican Senator and the Democratic challenger, each of whom claim to have very different positions from the other.

They vote the same. I’m running in a Republican primary; I’m providing a Republican alternative to the incumbent, who votes basically like a Democrat. For Republicans, one of our fundamental, bedrock concerns is that we have a government that is fiscally sober. I’m campaigning on a platform of fiscal sobriety. This incumbent, Kelly Ayotte, voted for one and a half trillion dollars of additional debt, to remove the debt ceiling, in just seventeen months. This country is on a path to negative interest rates. We’re on a path to a Japanese-style, no growth economy. This is very hard on working Americans, this fiscal strategy.

So I’m campaigning, again, on this core, bedrock Republican principle of spending what we take in and not more. We’ve got to get to a balanced budget.

There are some issues on which you differ from the traditional Republican orthodoxy. For example, you’ve said you would leave Roe v. Wade intact, and have accepted that humans are responsible in many ways for climate change. Both of those are pretty big issues for many Republicans. If you’re saying that Sen. Ayotte isn’t the most representative conservative in the race, how do you convince these voters that you are?

Well, let’s talk about abortion. I’m proposing that we end Planned Parenthood funding. No, I’m not seeking to ban all abortions. On the other hand, because life begins at conception, and folks strenuously, deeply object to being compelled to use taxpayer money to pay for terminating a human life, a reasonable compromise is that we don’t fund abortion through taxpayer money. Sen. Ayotte voted to fund Planned Parenthood and force taxpayers to spend on that.

On the issue of climate change, two of the three of us back President Obama’s EPA global warming plan. I oppose that plan. It’s a PR move in order to greenwash people. What I’m proposing is getting rid of all energy subsidies, letting the free market determine which form of energy is the right one for different states, different regions, different customers, and unleashing what is incredible about America. I’ve started ten small businesses myself, so I’m into this stuff – unleash the power of American innovation by approving a Manhattan project in clean energy R&D, and we will export clean energy. Clean energy will win worldwide, because energy that we will invent in America will be less expensive than fossil fuels. My energy policy is different: unleash the free market, stop with this regulatory overreach which doesn’t work.

On trade, you oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership. Republicans for decades have largely supported free trade pacts. One of the big debates in the party these days is how to reconcile the, for lack of a better term, populist wing of the party that opposes deals like this with the traditional business constituency that calls for free trade or an overhaul of immigration laws. How do you see that debate playing out?

I start with my campaign slogan, a fundamental principle: “Make Washington Work For Americans.” These trade deals, we’ve seen them now. They’ve been operative for twenty years, we’ve been exporting jobs and we’re depressing American wages. I have a plan on my website,, to bring prosperity back and wage growth back to Americans. It has several parts; one of them is stop doing these trade deals that hurt Americans. Let’s close the border so that illegal aliens are not coming into our country, stealing our jobs and depressing our wages. Let’s enforce e-verify, as they do in Arizona, so that jobs are going to American citizens and those legally eligible to be here. And we’ve seen in Arizona wages went up right away. Sen. Ayotte promised not to do amnesty. She gets into office, she votes for the Senate’s Gang of Eight open borders amnesty bill.

If you want candidates that will fight for the well being of the average American family, you’ve got to have a candidate who’s not owned and operated that corrupt system in Washington.

You’re looking to unseat a sitting US Senator in a primary – which has been done before in New Hampshire, but then again, incumbency has its advantages. How do you do it, is the question?

I ask voters: take a look at our February primaries right here in New Hampshire. We saw the anti-establishment on both the Democratic and Republican sides win by landslides in February, just a few months ago. The voters here in New Hampshire and across the country are ready for a serious change. And they’ve woken up to the fact that these career politicians say things during elections and then they immediately go out and break promises. I’ll come back to Sen. Ayotte’s promise not to do amnesty. She gets down there to Washington, drinks the Kool Aid, and votes for the Gang of Eight open borders amnesty bill.

Voters see this now. They’re ready for a change. And if we’re tired of business as usual in Washington, then rise up on election day, in my case in September, and vote for someone who wants Washington to work for Americans again.

I have to ask about this note from your website: “He attended Dartmouth College, studying chemistry and electronic music.”

Both my mother and father were artists. My father actually worked on Madison Avenue – he was Don Draper – and he would do jazz on the weekends. He’d bring jazz musicians – mostly blacks, because when he was into jazz there was no white jazz at the time – to the house. I grew to love music, all kinds of music. I’m a techno-nerd type of person – I like chemistry, like science, like mathematics and I like music too.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.