Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Kelly Ayotte had their first candidate forum of the general election Monday morning in Manchester. At the AARP-sponsored event, the U.S. Senate candidates focused on Social Security and Medicare.
Ayotte and Hassan each took the stage separately, addressed the audience and responded to a set of questions.
Ayotte said she was open to a number of solutions for fixing Social Security and Medicare such as raising the cap on the payroll tax or increasing that tax in order to sustain these benefits. Hassan said having the rich pay more into these programs is key.
According to the Social Security Trustees, benefits will be cut by nearly 25 percent after 2034 if no action is taken. Currently in New Hampshire, three out of ten retirees rely on Social Security as their only source of income.
But both candidates stressed that the solution to sustaining Social Security and Medicare rests on bipartisanship. That call for cross-party work wasn't necessarily reflected in the candidates' responses.
“And I myself have been really disappointed already in the Senate race that there has been millions and millions of dollars spent by my opponent and her allies attacking me on Medicare and Social Security," Ayotte told the crowd at St. Anselm College. "They are not true because my interest is in working together to preserve Social Security and Medicare.”
And then this response later from Hassan:
“At least ads from my campaign are very specific about her record and she can try in this election year to change what she has done in Washington all she wants to but she says one thing here and does something different in Washington and that is one of the things that voters really need to understand,” Hassan told reporters after the event.
The candidates will have their first official debate next Friday in Conway.