On June 24, retired Brigadier General Donald Bolduc announced his candidacy for Senate in New Hampshire. Bolduc is running as a Republican in an attempt to beat Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, who has held the seat since 2008.
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Bolduc. During the first half of our interview, we discussed Shaheen’s narrow hold on New Hampshire voters, the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, health care, and more.
DW: What made you decide to jump into this race?
BOLDUC: Jumping into this race was, I think, an accumulation of different things, mainly from what I was doing in post-retirement, which was supporting veterans, teaching at Southern New Hampshire University. I started a small business called "Truth to Power," really truth to empower, using truth as leaders, and I started my doctorate program in leadership and organizational development. The confluence of all those things and meeting a variety of people as I traveled around the state – talking at different conferences around New England and across the country at different venues, at least one person would come up to me and say, "Hey, you know you should really consider running for office," and at first sight, I said, "Thank you very much. I'm very humbled by that." I didn't see myself in that light at all, and then Granite Staters started encouraging me.
I met some very good people, and they said, "Hey, let's talk about this." So, we had a serious conversation about it, and then we talked to other folks, and before we knew it we were slapping the table and making the decision to run.
DW: Jeanne Shaheen skirted by twice on just 51% of the vote (2008, 2014). What will you bring to this fight in order to edge her out?
BOLDUC: Well, first of all, I think our platform is solid. Leadership in Congress is broken, and we're facing a crisis of leadership. Senator Shaheen and our politicians are working for themselves and not for us. So, if we don't make a change here in New Hampshire, nothing will change in D.C., and nothing will change for the people of New Hampshire – and that's really why I'm running.
My platform is a fight against ineffective leadership, and Shaheen’s 12 years in the Senate lines up very well when you look at her inability to work together inside the Senate and inside Congress writ large and find solutions to problems, which is what leaders are supposed to do. You can draw a direct line from ineffective leadership to all the problems that we're facing, whether it be the economy, national security, the health and welfare of Americans, why our communities are hurting right now significantly with violence, lack of affordable health care, lack of affordable education, our veterans are suffering (particularly here in New Hampshire).
She has promised not once, but twice in two elections, to get a full service VA Medical Center here and she has not done that, and she really doesn't understand the veteran issues here in the state of New Hampshire. We have significant health care issues here in the United States and here in New Hampshire where everybody is negatively affected – from the elderly to the young, and everyone in between.
DW: You recently tweeted after the death of Detective Luis Alvarez about the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth over the continued funding of that. What are your thoughts on the fund, and what should be done?
BOLDUC: Well, the funding should be a continuous and permanent stream of funding until our 9/11 victims do not need it any longer. This should be a non-issue, and it's just another indication of how Congress is failing us and how senator Shaheen could have taken a leadership role in this, and she has not.
DW: Why do you think it's become this political football?
BOLDUC: Well, I think it's become this football because politicians have become self-serving; they do not put service before self, and it's become a career. That’s probably in and of itself the biggest thing.
Here’s an analogy that I came across. When you’re looking for a brain surgeon, what you want is a brain surgeon who has a lot of years of experience. You’re not going to take a brain surgeon who just started out, right? That’s an example of a profession that the longer you're in it, the better you get. Not so much with politics. You end up with diminishing returns the longer they stay because the longer they stay, the more they try to stay, and the more they create a system that benefits themselves over the people who they're supposed to serve. This is the problem right now, and until we vote these people out, and until we get change in there, and until we put people in there with proven records of leadership, of putting people before themselves, it's not going to change, and we need to change it now. We’re running out of time.
DW: Part of your motto is "Service Above Self." In what way are you different than any other politician who tries to get elected and claims the same sentiment?
BOLDUC: I'm not a politician and I won't become a politician. I'm not in this to win the next election; I'm not in this to build a political dynasty; I'm not in this to make myself or my family rich by outside interests; and so that's one of the big differences – and it certainly sets me apart from Senator Shaheen. That’s number one. I'm not a status quo guy. A lot of people will say, "Well, he's a former General Officer, so he's he thinks that he's just going to be able to give orders in the Senate, and people are going to follow him," and that couldn't be further from the truth. If you think that about me, you don't have any idea what kind of journey it takes to go from Private to Brigadier General, and how you have to understand the nuances of leadership and followership, and make that work. How to lead in front of the formation; how to lead inside the formation; and how to lead behind the formation. It’s all about cooperation, coordination, and compromise, and we just don't see that now. We see disagreements and differences that become so problematic that it has gridlocked our politicians, and they become so ideological in their politics that they can't get anything done, and that's hurting America.
DW: The 2020 race features a lot of Democrats who adhere to ludicrous policies such as Medicare-for-all, abortion on demand, free tuition, college debt cancellation, and so on. Where do you stand on these issues in particular and, more broadly, on the path on which the Democrats have set themselves?
BOLDUC: Well, if I could take health care, and just flesh that out a little bit. It’s another example of failed leadership, and another area where Senator Shaheen has been ineffective. This area in particular in Congress is broken and it's hurting the people of New Hampshire. It’s more expensive and failing our veterans; it's failing our elderly and our young, and everybody in between. Everyone in America must have affordable health care, and we must understand that one size does not fit all. So, the Democratic plan doesn't work from the beginning. It’s the leading cause of individual bankruptcy in New Hampshire. This just should not happen.
What we need to really think about for affordable health care is lower costs for prescriptions – and I'm not talking about generic medications as a substitute either – transparency in billing, and recognizing pre-existing conditions is hugely important. We must innovate to ensure quality health care so we need competition and a free market.
The other thing that I've been hearing a lot about is expanding and supporting a transferable health savings account (HSA) where people can invest in their own health care and take that health care from one job to the next, and it actually becomes their money. That, at some point in time, makes a heck of a lot more sense than what we're doing now.
Select health care like you do auto insurance. Provide choices in health care like we do in auto insurance, and recognize that everyone's situation is different. Reward good behavior for people who stay healthy – and that's something that we don't do. Let’s incentivize this a little bit.
The ACA and the Medicare-for-all that the Democrats are so in love with is socialized medicine at its best, and it is going to crush New Hampshire and America.
Make sure to come back for the second half of my interview with Brig. Gen. Bolduc, in which we discuss the military, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, President Trump, and more.
Part two drops Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern.