[We cross posted this interview at NOW! Hampshire.com]
Jeanne Shaheen, the first woman to be elected governor of New Hampshire (in 1996, ’98 and ‘00), is running against John Sununu for the opportunity to represent the Granite State in the United States Senate.
The 2008 contest between Governor Shaheen and Senator Sununu is a re-match of their 2002 campaign for Senate (Senator Sununu won that contest 51% to 47%).
Mrs. Shaheen most recently served as Director of the Harvard Institute of Politics.
Mrs. Shaheen lives in Madbury, New Hampshire with her husband, Bill.
We thank Governor Shaheen for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions. As always, our interview is run in its entirety, with no editing or snarky commentary.
1. Governor Shaheen, this is your second run for the United States Senate and your sixth campaign overall – how has politics/campaigns changed since you first ran for elected office in 1990?
One of the biggest changes is how the Internet has allowed me to connect with so many New Hampshire families in a new way. With the Internet, voters can interact with the campaign much more directly, voters can read about issues at greater length with greater ease, and we can invite more people to an event in a shorter amount of time than if we call. Direct contact with voters is still our primary focus, but the Internet is just one more tool we can use to reach them and discuss the biggest challenges facing New Hampshire’s families.
2. You surprised some people in September of 2007 when announced that you were running again for the U.S. Senate. At the time, you held a great job at Harvard and had already served three successful terms as Governor. What motivated you to run for the Senate this time around?
I decided to run for Senate again because I saw the direction our country is heading in and I wanted to stand up and help us get things back on track. Our country is mired in a seemingly endless war, families in New Hampshire are paying skyrocketing health care costs and too many families can’t afford to send their children to college. I’m running for Senate because New Hampshire’s hard-working families need someone in Washington who will stand up for them, not the special interests.
3. What is a “typical” day like on the campaign trail?
I’ve been traveling to all corners of our beautiful state talking with New Hampshire’s families about the changes we need in Washington and what we can do to strengthen our middle class. Very few days are typical, but the thing I enjoy most is talking with people all over our state and hearing what’s on their minds.
4. You have spent a lot of time traveling around New Hampshire talking to voters, what do you think NH voters top four concerns are?
The four concerns I hear the most about are our health care system, investing in and developing clean energy, ending the war in Iraq, and restoring fiscal accountability in Washington.
5. If you are elected to the Senate, what is the very first thing you would do on your first day?
I will meet with the rest of the New Hampshire delegation to discuss how we can help New Hampshire’s families and small businesses.
6. Both you and Senator Sununu supported regime change in Iraq in 2002. We believe that almost everyone wants American troops out of Iraq as quickly and as responsibly as possible. How would Senator Shaheen handle the Iraq War issue differently than Senator Sununu?
First and foremost, I would hold the Bush administration accountable for their actions and spending. For the past five years, Congress has given Bush a rubberstamp on this war—giving no-bid contracts to Halliburton and refusing to conduct significant oversight. We are spending $343 million a day in Iraq with very little accountability in terms of where that money is going and how it is being spent. Too much is at stake for Congress to sit by and allow Bush’s failed agenda to move forward. We need new leadership in Washington that will end this war and ensure that we are spending our resources as best we can to strengthen our economy and support middle class families.
7. Name one decision that Senator Sununu has made that you agree with.
I appreciated Senator Sununu’s work to recognize the veterans, also known as the Pease Greeters, who mobilize at a moment’s notice to welcome or send-off our brave soldiers.
8. Name one decision that Senator Sununu has made that you disagree with.
There are many issues that are important to New Hampshire’s families on which I disagree with Sen. Sununu. I think we should be expanding student aid, not cutting it. We should be expanding middle class tax cuts instead of giving $13 billion in tax cuts to America’s wealthiest oil companies. Rather than blindly following George Bush’s agenda, we need someone in Washington who will stand up and put New Hampshire’s middle-class families, not the wealthy special interests, first.
9. What is one political truth today that if someone had told you would be true 12 months ago you wouldn’t believe him or her?
That the Bush Administration and its allies in Congress would still be pushing for an open-ended commitment in Iraq.
10. As a high profile figure in the Democratic Party, would you like to comment on the Clinton/Obama contest and guarantee that this interview gets front-paged on The Page?
We’re very lucky to have two excellent candidates running for president, either of whom will do a great job in the White House. I’m very excited to watch whomever we nominate win on Election Day.
10.5 Finally, in the interest of bi-partisanship, please say something nice about a Republican elected official in New Hampshire.
I had a good working relationship with Judd Gregg when I was governor and I look forward to working with him in the U.S. Senate.