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Abortion, climate change spotlight differences between Kuster, Negron

  • Annie Kuster and Steve Negron at a NHPR debate last week. Paul Steinhauser—



For the Monitor
Sunday, October 14, 2018

The wide policy divide between Democratic Congresswoman Annie Kuster and GOP challenger Steve Negron may best be illustrated by the controversial issue of abortion.

It’s one of the few issues where Kuster, the three-term incumbent from Hopkinton, believes in less government regulation than Negron, a businessman from Nashua and first-term state representative.

“I’m an adoption attorney. I have walked the walk,” Kuster said Thursday in an interview with the Monitor and WKXL radio in Concord. “I believe that an unplanned pregnancy is a very private decision. Do you want to carry the pregnancy to term, do you want to place the baby for adoption, do you want to terminate the pregnancy. I don’t think the government should make that decision. I believe in less government interference in people’s lives.”

Last year, she voted against a GOP sponsored bill that would have criminalized abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

When it comes to abortion, Negron is very clear on where he stands.

“As a Catholic, I’m pro-life from conception to natural death,” Negron said. “We’re a culture of life, not a culture of death. We should promote other options for people instead of having to take a life and feel very strongly about that.”

Government shouldn’t fund it either, Negron said.

“I don’t think taxpayer dollars should be used to fund that procedure at all,” he said.

Kuster said that Negron’s stance puts him outside the mainstream.

“His position – it’s based on his religion – but his position is no abortion, no exceptions. The life of the mother, rape, incest. That’s an extreme position even within his own party,” the congresswoman said.

Climate change is another issue where the two major party candidates in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District don’t see eye to eye.

“I believe in science. I believe our climate is changing. I believe it’s a serious threat to our world and our future,” Kuster said Thursday at a forum organized by AARP New Hampshire and the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, which was the first showdown between the congresswoman and her GOP challenger.

Negron was more skeptical.

“I don’t believe necessarily that there is climate change, that everybody is running around being scared,” he said this summer during a GOP primary debate.

Kuster called that stance “most extreme” and added that “there are going to be issues that he wants to run from his position in the primary.”

Negron was a bit more tempered during a Friday interview.

“I would agree that climate change is happening but to the degree that the sky is falling, I don’t believe that,” he said.

Kuster advocated for increased reliance on renewable energy as a way to fight climate change, saying it “has tremendous potential right here in New Hampshire.”

While he’s open to renewable energy, Negron argued against federal government intrusion into the state’s energy decisions.

“I don’t want big government reaching out and telling me what I need to do and what I don’t need to do. We’re smart folks here in New Hampshire,” he said. “We’ve got a great legislature. We’ve got a great governor. We’ll decide what’s important for us when it comes to energy and energy costs.”

The issue of infrastructure also illustrates the two candidates vastly different views on the role of the federal government.

Kuster touted her efforts to steer federal funds to New Hampshire for the I-93 expansion from two lanes to three lanes from the Massachusetts border to Manchester. Negron downplayed the federal government’s efforts in helping the state pay for its projects.

“I don’t think the federal government should have a heavy hand, but I was really shocked when he (Negron) said the federal government shouldn’t have a role in infrastructure,” Kuster said. “It’s the interstate highway system and it was brought in by the federal government because of interstate commerce.”

The candidates were on different tracks when it comes to the proposed commuter rail line that would link Boston with Nashua and Manchester.

Kuster, a major supporter of the project, said that “there’s lot of people that commute back and forth. There’s lots of people living in New Hampshire with jobs in Boston and there are plenty of people in Boston, young people, who would work here and maybe stay here in the long run.”

Negron disagreed.

“It’s a two-way train. It would be another opportunity, another mechanism, for people to leave our state,” he said.

The candidates’ different philosophies on the role of the federal government was also evident when it comes to how to combat the opioid crisis. Kuster highlighted her role as co-founder and co-chair of the U.S House bipartisan task force on heroin and opioids. She touted that the House passed 54 opioid related bills in June, which increased the amount of funding coming to New Hampshire.

Negron proposed a more local approach, suggesting that “the only way to get a handle on this complex issue is to not do it in Washington.”

The wide divide was also on display when the topic turned to Medicaid.

Negron suggested altering the program, shifting more decision making to the states.

“It should really be a program that is absolutely run by the state,” he offered. “I would actually propose that we look at it as a block grant – that we get ‘X’ amount of money for the amount of people that we have here and we actually manage what it is. Every time the government believes they know what’s best for us, we get in trouble.”

She pointed out that Negron voted against the state’s Medicaid Expansion program, which provides health care coverage for more than 50,000 Granite Staters.

The two candidates will get another chance to disagree on the issues when they face off on Tuesday at an NHPR debate held in Concord.