You Asked, She Answered: Hassan Fields Your Questions on Refugees, Money in Politics

Sep 28, 2016

Leading up to our conversation with Gov. Maggie Hassan, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, we asked what you’d want to ask her, if given the chance.

Here’s a roundup of her responses on some of the topics you told us wanted to hear Hassan weigh in on.

On Money in Politics

A few people wanted to hear what Hassan planned to do to counteract the influence of big money in politics.

“I think it’s really important to get dark money out of politics. I think it’s really important that people have confidence in their political system,” Hassan said. “I, back in my days in the New Hampshire State Senate, worked for increased disclosure after the Citizens United case was decided. I am the only Senate candidate in this race who supports the overturning of the Citizens United decision.”

Hassan also expressed support for the DISCLOSE Act.  (Also known as the “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act.”) A version of the bill has been put forward several times in recent years but has yet to meaningfully advance

...And Even More On Money in Politics

While Hassan has voiced support for reducing the influence of money in politics, she — and her opponent, Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte — have benefited from plenty of outside spending in this year’s campaign.

Earlier in the campaign, Ayotte and Hassan sparred over competing proposals to sign a “People’s Pledge” that would have potentially limited the role of outside spending in the race. 

One listener wondered why Hassan opted not to sign onto the pledge — Hassan, for her part, largely pinned the blame on her opponent for not accepting the version of the pledge she put forward.

“The pledge I proposed would have not only prevented outside money from coming in, but capped the total amount of money so we could have had a race that was focused on the issues,” Hassan said.

In Hassan’s proposal, the campaigns would’ve been limited to spending no more than $15 million each.

As it stands now, according to the most recently available campaign finance figures, neither campaign has spent near that amount — but the race, with outside spending, is nonetheless the most expensive New Hampshire election yet

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On Refugee Resettlement

Someone else asked for Hassan’s views on whether New Hampshire should admit more refugees. (Last year, the governor faced widespread criticism after calling for a “pause” on Syrian refugee resettlement in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris.)

Today, Hassan says she still thinks such a pause would have been “a good thing” because she believes it would have allowed the government to address some of the issues raised by top national security officials about possible gaps in the vetting process for refugees.

It’s important, Hassan said, “that we not demonize any single group or entity, and that we continue to be the welcoming country that we always have been.” But that’s not mutually exclusive from addressing security concerns, she said.

“It is important when critical national security leaders, like the head of the FBI and the head of the CIA, say, ‘Hey, the vetting system as described on paper isn’t working the way it is supposed to and is under-resourced, we can’t do our job’ — I think, at that point, it is really appropriate to take a temporary pause and do what we need to do to adjust and address the issues that they’re raising,” Hassan said. “I’m very disappointed that almost a year after the Paris attacks now, Washington still hasn’t done anything to truly address this issue.”

On Balancing the Budget

Someone else asked what programs Hassan might seek to scale back in order to rein in the national debt.

Hassan said she would start by “closing the loopholes for big oil, for outsourcers, and for other special interests,” and she would also try to get rid of federally owned buildings that are currently being unused.

“What I won’t do is balance our budget on the backs of our seniors by using cuts to Medicare or Social Security as mechanisms for balancing the budget,” Hassan added.

On Sounding 'Too Scripted'

Someone else wondered how Hassan would respond to voters who feel she’s “too scripted.” Here’s (part of) what she had to say:

“You know, what I talk about every day is what the people of New Hampshire talk to me about every day. And so I will always try to make sure that I raise their voices and talk about what’s important to them. That has included everything from improving our behavioral health system in New Hampshire, something I heard about all the time especially in my first run for governor back in 2012, to now the discussions I have with people everywhere I go about the impact of the heroin and opioid crisis on them and their families or in their businesses. So that’s what I do, is I talk to people in New Hampshire and I focus on what’s important to them, to the businesses I meet, and that’s what I’ll continue to talk about in this campaign. What I hear from people is that they want to have a future again where middle class families have a shot, where if you’re willing to work really hard, you can get ahead. People want to know that their kids are going to have a better future than they had, and so that’s what I’ve focused on as governor, that’s what I’ll focus on if I’m fortunate enough to win this race for the United States Senate.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Hassan right here. Stay tuned for more conversations with other candidates — and more opportunities to get your questions answered — leading up to November's elections.