Hassan Intern Becomes Flashpoint In 'Civility' Debate

Jun 27, 2018

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

One of Senator Maggie Hassan's interns has become a flashpoint in the national discussion this week over civility in politics, and both of New Hampshire's major political parties are pointing fingers. 

Keene State College student Caitlin Marriott was suspended for a week from her internship in Hassan’s Washington, D.C. office after she yelled an expletive at President Donald Trump. The incident was captured on video by an NBC reporter and has since gone viral. 

In a week where members of the Trump administration have been publicly shamed for separating migrant children from their parents at the southern border, news of the outburst and Hassan’s decision to suspend, not fire, Marriott has become a popular talking point on cable news programs and social media.

In New Hampshire, with the September primary looming large, Republicans are trying to use the news to fundraise and motivate their base. The state party produced an internet ad calling on Hassan to fire Marriott, and then sent it along to supporters in a fundraising email. Recent campaign finance filings show that so far, NH Democrats have been outraising NH Republicans. 

In the video, three Republican women, including a NHGOP intern, stand in a park and share their “outrage” over Marriott’s language. One woman said Hassan is “letting down the people of New Hampshire” by not firing Marriott. The NH GOP intern calls on Hassan to “do the right thing...fire the intern and stop the culture of hate.”

On Tuesday, Governor Sununu joined the chorus of Republicans encouraging Sen. Hassan to fire Marriott.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire Democrats say it’s Republicans - especially President Trump - who aren’t being civil. 

Sen. Maggie Hassan told the Washington Post she thinks her intern's behavior shouldn't be equated with what she calls President Trump's “destructive and divisive actions” over immigration and healthcare. Hassan said Marriott “immediately accepted responsibility for her actions and is facing consequences for them. The president is doing neither.”

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley echoed Hassan’s sentiment in a statement, blaming Republicans for creating a “culture of hate” through policies Buckley called "racist" and "heartless."