GOFFSTOWN, N.H. – In contrast to the more subtle attacks of the previous day’s gubernatorial debate, Tuesday’s Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce New Hampshire First Congressional District Debate held plenty of direct jabs and revealed a stark contrast between Democratic incumbent Chris Pappas and Republican challenger Karoline Leavitt.
Leavitt came out early and often seeking to tie Pappas to Democrats in Washington, along with rising inflation and energy prices, also repeatedly attacking Pappas on border security and related issues such as the increase of fentanyl-related deaths in New Hampshire. She also tied efforts to invest in renewable energy to California and the rising energy prices in that state.
After most of Leavitt’s attacks, Pappas attempted to deflect her jabs as mere talking points hiding a lack of concrete policies, also accusing Leavitt of extremism on her stances regarding abortion, 2020 election conspiracies and social security. Unlike Pappas, who repeatedly responded to Leavitt’s efforts to tie Pappas to national Democrats by invoking bipartisanship, Leavitt’s response to Pappas’ claims of extremism were limited, calling the assertion “laughable” and only accurate if it was extreme to support businesses, families, and national interests.
The two also sparred on healthcare costs, with Pappas supporting increased support of telehealth and attacking Leavitt’s support of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Leavitt responded that she wants more price transparency and multi-state plans through market-based approaches, with Pappas responding that the ACA is a market-based approach.
Leavitt also attacked Pappas regarding his support of utilizing the national strategic petroleum reserve to lower gas prices as irresponsible. In response, Pappas said that the Trump Administration also tapped the national strategic petroleum reserve and it currently stands at 400 million barrels of oil, attacking Leavitt’s support of increased drilling as insufficient to immediately impact gas prices, instead saying that a broader approach is needed.
Along with inflation, another recurring issue mentioned by Leavitt was limiting government regulation, and government mandates, tying that back to her own experiences.
“I watched while scooping ice cream in our family-run ice cream stand that the government makes your life more difficult,” she said. “If you have 15 people on your payroll and you’re worried if someone will show up for their shift, you don’t have time to deal with the government’s crap, you just don’t.”
Like Leavitt, Pappas also referenced his experience working in his family’s restaurant, and tied that back to his support of small business and the need to focus on solution-based actions.
In that vein, he also repeatedly said he has worked with Republicans in Congress when needed to advance legislation and prefers getting things done over the limelight in the New Hampshire’s tradition of non-professional politicians.
“It’s a citizen-led government here in New Hampshire, it’s grassroots, it’s connected to the community, and that’s why in my role I try to get out there as much as possible and connect with people directly,” he said. “I’m not the kind of Member of Congress that’s going to trend on Twitter or you’re going to see on social media or on cable news a lot, but you may see me in your community listening more than anything else. I think that comes from my business experience before Congress.”