Like a driver making a screeching U-turn, Don Bolduc, the Republican Senate nominee in New Hampshire, pivoted Thursday from his primary race to the general election, saying he had “come to the conclusion” that the 2020 presidential election “was not stolen,” after he had spent more than a year claiming it was.
“I’ve done a lot of research on this, and I’ve spent the past couple weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state from every party, and I have come to the conclusion — and I want to be definitive on this — the election was not stolen,” Bolduc said in an interview on Fox News.
He continued to falsely claim there had been fraud in the election but acknowledged that the outcome was not in question.
Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times
“Elections have consequences, and, unfortunately, President Biden is the legitimate president of this country,” he said.
Bolduc won his primary Tuesday over a more moderate candidate, Chuck Morse, the president of the New Hampshire Senate. Bolduc ran on an uncompromising right-wing platform, complete with declarations that former President Donald Trump had won the 2020 election.
But now he faces a tough general election campaign against Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat. She is vulnerable in November — but, Republicans worry, less vulnerable against Bolduc than she would have been against Morse.
Hassan’s campaign responded quickly to Bolduc’s reversal, sharing a series of videos and quotes of the many times Bolduc had promoted the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
“Don Bolduc is desperately trying to run from years of spreading the Big Lie, but he can’t hide from the video receipts,” her campaign said in a statement.
Bolduc, a retired Army general, had claimed repeatedly for more than a year that the election was stolen.
Among other instances, in May 2021, he signed an open letter in which retired generals and admirals advanced false claims that the election had been tainted. “The FBI and Supreme Court must act swiftly when election irregularities are surfaced and not ignore them as was done in 2020,” it said.
In a debate with his Republican primary opponents last month, he referred back to that letter and declared, to applause, that he would not budge from his position.
“I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Trump won the election, and, damn it, I stand by my letter,” he said. “I’m not switching horses, baby. This is it.”
Switching horses Thursday, he said in the Fox News interview, “We, you know, live and learn, right?”
While Bolduc’s reversal was particularly brazen, he is not the only Republican candidate who has tried to temper, or outright erase, hard-line positions as the general election environment starts to look less favorable for the party.
At least 10 candidates in competitive races, including Senate nominees Blake Masters in Arizona, Adam Laxalt in Nevada and Ted Budd in North Carolina, have updated their websites to downplay endorsements from Trump or to soften language opposing abortion.
© 2022 The New York Times Company