Meet the Republicans running for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire: Vikram Mansharamani
Leading up to New Hampshire’s state primary on Sept. 13, we’ve asked local voters to share what issues they most want to see the candidates talk about this election season.
With a wide open Republican primary for U.S. Senate, NHPR is speaking with the top candidates in that race to learn more about where they stand on some of the most common concerns voters shared with us. The winner of that primary will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in November.
Read on for NHPR Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley’s interview with Vikram Mansharamani. Mansharamani is a self-described “global trend watcher.” He’s worked in finance, advised companies and holds several degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
What questions do you have for the candidates running for governor, U.S. Senator and Congress? What issues do you most want them to address while seeking your vote? Share your thoughts here.
Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.
Rick Ganley: There's been a lot of misinformation about election security and voter fraud, both here and nationwide. And an NPR poll from earlier in the year found that 64% of Americans believe that U.S. democracy is in crisis. I want to ask you about your opinion. Do you believe that the 2020 election was fair?
Vikram Mansharamani: You know, I do think that President Joe Biden is, in fact, the president. So let's start off with that, because I think that's the under written question that's being asked here. But I also want to go further and say that I do believe we cannot have a democracy where 50% or so of the population doesn't believe in the integrity of the process. That means we do need to strengthen our institutions. We need to strengthen faith in our institutions, and we need to give people the comfort that their votes matter and that elections are properly conducted.
Rick Ganley: What does that mean to you exactly as far as any changes that you would like to see?
Vikram Mansharamani: Well, I do think some of the things that might be seen as controversial, things like a voter ID law. I do believe it's important. Why is it that I cannot get on to an airplane without a government issued ID? But some folks want to be able to vote without a government issued ID. I think that's a reasonable policy to put in place. You need to have a government issued ID in order to vote.
Rick Ganley: Many people in New Hampshire are struggling with the costs of day to day living as inflation is nearing a four-decade high. What are some approaches at the federal level that you would support to help lower costs for people?
Vikram Mansharamani: Well, I have to say, Rick, I think the single biggest driver of inflation that we need to think about is energy, energy prices and our energy policy. And I think it bleeds into inflation in so many ways. We went from being a country that was energy independent, exporting oil and gas to our friends and our allies, to a country where we are now energy dependent on countries that hate us, enemies, countries that mean us ill. That has a huge inflationary impact. Think about the price of diesel. I'm on the board of a trucking company and I can tell you that diesel prices drive freight rates, and freight rates affect everything moved by that truck, which means that energy bleeds into every single product many of us touch.
Rick Ganley: You want more drilling, you want more fertile lands opened up?
Vikram Mansharamani: I do. I think we should have an all of the above energy policy that includes, you know, as much drilling in the United States as possible. I think we should utilize solar, wind, coal, all of the above, nuclear. And why is that? So, I think a lot of times our concern is the environmental concern about the carbon that we're going to potentially be producing in this process. And I would go so far as to say, actually, it's better for the environment to pump oil and gas here in the United States because the oil and gas we pump here is subject to environmental regulations, such as capturing of methane. You know, we don't dispose of drilling fluids into the water, etc.. And the fact is, if we don't produce it, it's getting produced somewhere.
More coverage from NPR: EPA head Michael Regan on U.S. plan to tame methane emissions
Rick Ganley: Well, out of all the responses that we received from our listeners asking about what's on their minds this election season, a top issue was climate change. Do you believe climate change poses an imminent threat?
Vikram Mansharamani: Imminent? No, no. I do not believe climate change poses an imminent threat. I think climate change is something we need to focus on. I think we can pay attention to it. But the climate alarmism is overwhelming. I think it's hypocritical, I think, on the part of some folks who are running around burning more carbon than I ever will in my life, suggesting that climate change is the biggest issue out there. But again, I think what we need to think about is growing our economy, giving ourselves the resources to be able to adapt to anything climate change throws at us.
So I'll give you a great example here. If we have a stronger economy, we will be able to invest in future energy technologies. In fact, I think it was an NPR reporter who asked me on the day I declared my candidacy, how do you differ from some of the other conservatives in this race? And I said, I'm not opposed to all government spending. I think you should invest in research, science, technology. We can move beyond fossil fuels with research, science and future technologies. Fusion may be 15 or 20 years away where we will get unlimited energy, the byproduct of which could be water. And that's coming out of national labs. So I do think there's some hope here, but I don't like the alarmism that suggests there's imminent threat because of climate change.
(Editor’s note: Scientists are in broad agreement that climate change poses serious threats to human wellbeing and the health of the planet.)
Rick Ganley: I want to ask you about abortion. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v Wade, some states across the country putting in place severe restrictions on abortion. Would you support federal restrictions?
Vikram Mansharamani: No, I would not support federal restrictions on abortion.
Rick Ganley: And how about here in New Hampshire?
Vikram Mansharamani: Well, I'm running for federal office, as you know, and you're aware. So it's not a topic that I would be addressing, but I'm comfortable with the New Hampshire policy.
Rick Ganley: You wouldn't want to see further restrictions imposed in New Hampshire?
Vikram Mansharamani: I do not think there is a need for further restrictions in New Hampshire.
Rick Ganley: Immigration and border policy is a top concern with many voters, too, in the upcoming election. What's one specific immigration policy that you could point to that you would want to support?
Vikram Mansharamani: Interesting. So a specific policy. Well, let's talk about something that does drive inflation: labor costs. We have limits on H-1B visas, so let's even broaden it, employer-sponsored immigration visas. This is where an employer is taking responsibility to bring someone in for a skill that they've advertised and or have been unable to find another worker to meet those needs. Why are we limiting them? Why can't we actually have H-1B visas where, again, this is not a permanent entry, this is a temporary entry for professional reasons that will help our labor shortages in certain sectors. Employers take the burden of making sure they're paying, I think the phrase is prevailing wages. So this won't put downside pressure on on wages. This allows people to come in legally. It allows employers to meet their needs. I would be in favor of relaxing some of the quotas and and numerical limits on employer-based immigration.
Rick Ganley: Do you share the worries of your fellow Republicans about what's happening at the southern border and too many people coming over?
Vikram Mansharamani: Yes, look, I think the southern border is a problem and we should secure it. But I'm a big believer —
Rick Ganley: How would you do that?
Vikram Mansharamani: Well, I think part of it is you want to sort of decrease the incentives for illegal immigration and make legal immigration more accessible, right? So we've got a huge backlog in legal immigration. Let's work through that. Let's come up with I don't know if there's a temporary guest worker program. So those that have historically been in migrant pools of labor, whether it's in agriculture and other areas, that we actually offer a temporary guest worker program where they can come in, have their time working and then leave. So I think there is a whole bunch of ways to decrease the incentive for illegal immigration, and allow the sort of forces of incentives to work and allow legal immigration to happen more. You know, in terms of finishing the fence and wall, sure, I'm okay with that. I'm a believer in a tall wall. But whenever I add that phrase, I also say a wide gate, because America is a nation of immigrants. We are a shining city on the hill. My parents came here legally. Proudest day of my parents' lives were when they handed in their green cards, took their oath to the United States and received their naturalization papers. I've lived the American dream. I think we should offer that to others.