If optics is everything in political campaigns, it was fitting to see Eddie Edwards and Andy Sanborn at far ends of the debate stage.
Five candidates are running for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District. Michael Callis, Jeff Denaro, and Andy Martin stood in the middle. Each offered up policy points. But the antagonism between Edwards and Sanborn was palpable during Thursday's televised debate. Edwards, a former director of law enforcement for the N.H. State Liquor Commission, is trying to weaponize character, in that he argues Sanborn's is hollow and lacking.
He contends Sanborn's reported crass comments and sexual references as a state senator makes him unfit for the GOP nomination. Sanborn insisted again that he was making a joke, and that his political enemies are out to get him.
It led to some fiesty back-and-forths during the debate, sponsored by WMUR, the Manchester Union Leader, and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library. Here are a few of the exchanges:
- Edwards: "If Senator Sanborn is our nominee everything that we're talking about tonight, these are very important issues -- the wall, taxes, security, our veterans -- it is all gone. It is all gone. His candidacy will drag down the entire Republican Party and the ticket."
- Sanborn: "I make a decision that I'm running for Congress and my political rivals all of a sudden make a big deal about this. Just like we see with President Trump, we see the liberal media, liberal Republicans, and those who don't like conservatives trying to find every single way they can to find people that want to say things and start challenging it."
- Sanborn: "We understand that my opponent, Mr. Edwards, never even was a Republican until he signed up to run for office. ... And today, obviously we hear the fact that if he doesn't win the primary he's not going to support any nominee except himself, which means he's actually saying we should go vote for Nancy Pelosi."
- Edwards: "But the real comparison here is President Bill Clinton and Senator Sanborn. Both worked in government as officials for eight years. Both abused their authority in the State House and in the White House. Both cost taxpayers thousands of dollars between investigations and impeachment hearings and being forced to take sexual harassment courses."
- Sanborn: "Look, I'm an Irishman that owns a sports bar. If I see Tom Brady take a clip, you're probably going to hear me say someting or might swear about it."