CONCORD — Retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign on Monday, saying lessons learned growing up in Laconia and serving 33 years in the Army will help him with his goal of breaking the partisan logjam in Washington.
“I learned my values at an early age working on my grandfather’s farm,” he told a standing-room-only crowd of enthusiastic supporters inside VFW Post 531 in Concord.
“Mom and Dad, who are not with us today — at least physically, they are in spirit — taught me my moral ethics and my values. They taught me how to be a man of character. They taught me that it was the quality of the person and the content of their character that is more important.”
Bolduc, 57, of Stratham, will challenge two-term Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who also served as New Hampshire governor from 1997 to 2003.
Bolduc said failed leadership and a politics-first attitude in Congress are letting the American people down on a range of topics, including the opioid crisis, securing the border and improving national security, rising health care and prescription costs, care of veterans and rising student debt.
Bolduc said running for Senate is not something that he has long envisioned.
“I am anything but a politician, but like many Americans today, I am ticked off by the partisan mindset on display in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
He said his upbringing and military service have left him determined to make a positive difference for others.
“After 33 years in the Army, I don’t give a damn about politics,” Bolduc said. “I am trained to get the job done.”
Bolduc, who has two Purple Hearts, two awards for valor, and five bronze stars, and survived a helicopter crash, said he has had to persevere through many difficult situations.
“If you don’t think that’s not experience on how to do the right thing, on how to get things done, how to lead from the front, then you’re sadly mistaken,” he said. “And if you think in the air-conditioned halls of Congress, I’m going to back down from loudmouth Democrats telling me what to do, you are wrong.”
The speech struck a responsive chord for Gary Gahan, 74, who served in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine, and was one of many men wearing hats and clothing that listed military affiliations.
“You can’t get any better than that,” said Gahan, of Goffstown. “He’s about 'we the people,' including veterans, obviously, because he’s a veteran himself.
“Unfortunately, this audience is white-hairs; we’re not getting enough of the younger people to hear the message.”
Natalie Wells, a former Republican state representative, was also in the audience.
“I thought it was fantastic,” said Wells, of Warner. “I like the fact he’s right out front. He’s a family man. He’s concerned about values and where they’re going. He just has a powerful message to send to Washington, and his heart is here to defend New Hampshire.”
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley released a statement saying Bolduc’s announcement marks the beginning of a Republican primary likely to attract a few candidates.
Buckley said all would “rubber-stamp Donald Trump's agenda to end health care for tens of thousands of Granite Staters and rip away protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.
“None of them can be counted on to stand up for New Hampshire. In sharp contrast, Granite Staters know and trust Jeanne Shaheen because she has a consistent record of putting New Hampshire first."