In primary fight to unseat Ayotte, Rubens talks a lot like Trump

  • Jim Rubens speaks to the ‘Monitor’ editorial board Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Jim Rubens at the Monitor editorial board meeting. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Jim Rubens at the Monitor editorial board. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Hampshire may be far from the United States’s southern border, but Republican Jim Rubens is making immigration a key issue in his bid for U.S. Senate.

The former Hanover state senator supports building a wall along the United States-Mexico border, stopping immigration from countries that “harbor terrorism” and decreasing the number of U.S. visas allotted for skilled foreign workers.

Many of those ideas mirror proposals of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, whom Rubens has endorsed.

“We need to dial immigration down,” he said in an interview with the Monitor editorial board Wednesday.

Rubens is challenging incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte in the state primary Sept. 13.

Recent polls show Ayotte is deadlocked with Democratic rival Maggie Hassan.

Hassan leads Rubens by nearly 20 points in a match-up between the two, according to a recent WMUR Granite State Poll.

Rubens ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2014, losing a three-way primary to Scott Brown. He announced his campaign against Ayotte earlier this year.

Rubens didn’t name the cost of building a wall. Pakistan, Iraq and Syria, he said, are three countries that “harbor terrorism” and whose residents shouldn’t be allowed to immigrate to the U.S.

He said he opposes the so-called “gang of eight” immigration compromise, which was backed by Ayotte and would have created a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

On foreign policy, Rubens said the military should scale back in some areas and grow in others.

“We certainly need to defend the air, sea commons,” he said. “The notions of having hundreds of bases around the world, of defending with our troops the North and South Korea borders, the extent to which we engage in Europe and therefore allow countries like Japan to underfund their role, we need a burden sharing.”

Rubens advocated for the United States government to “tell Saudi Arabia to stop funding terror,” and said it could be done with economic pressure, but wasn’t specific. “We need to compel them to stop,” he said.

Arming moderate forces has failed, he said, as has a policy of “nation building.”

Rubens calls the Iran nuclear agreement “very, very poor,” but said he wouldn’t have signed a controversial open letter to Iran issued by 47 Republican senators, including Ayotte, during negotiations of the deal.

“I see that as grandstanding,” he said. “If these folks who talk like this, I would challenge them to . . . have a debate and pass a new authorization of military force.” Such authorization hasn’t been updated in more than a decade.

Rubens opposes proposals to let students refinance their loans, but said college debt should not be immune from bankruptcy.

He advocated to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. He favors means testing as a way to help stabilize Social Security, saying billionaires don’t need the federal benefit. But he declined to name a number or income level for the cut off, saying it is up to the actuaries.

He doesn’t support raising the eligibility age for Social Security.

“While we’re living longer in the United States clearly, but the human body seems to wear out at about the same time,” he said. “I don’t buy the idea you can take people who are using a walker, they can go back to brick laying. It ain’t going to happen.”

Rubens is against overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened the door to big money in politics, but he supports campaign finance reform. Rubens proposes that legal voters be issued a $100 tax rebate voucher they can contribute to a federal candidate that opts out of the “campaign money system.”

While Rubens initially supported hearings on President Obama’s supreme court nominee, he backed off that stance once the president picked Merrick Garland. He now opposes nomination hearings, a position in line with most Republican U.S. Senators, saying Garland is “anti-Bill of Rights, particularly on the Second Amendment.”

“I don’t want a Supreme Court judge who is against the Bill of Rights,” he said.

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com.)