On the Trail: New Hampshire general’s South Carolina primary mission

Don Bolduc, a former Senate candidate and now a Pittsfield, NH, police officer, campaigns for Nikki Haley at a Greer, South Carolina rally

Don Bolduc, a former Senate candidate and now a Pittsfield, NH, police officer, campaigns for Nikki Haley at a Greer, South Carolina rally PAUL STEINHAUSER—For the Monitor

By PAUL STEINHAUSER

For the Monitor

Published: 02-23-2024 10:19 AM

GREER, South Carolina – Don Bolduc was once again far from home, on a crucial mission.

But this time he wasn’t overseas fighting in the War in Afghanistan.

Instead, the retired Army brigadier general and 2022 GOP U.S. Senate nominee in New Hampshire was in South Carolina. Bolduc was campaigning on behalf of Nikki Haley, the former two-term Palmetto State governor and former U.N. ambassador turned presidential candidate, ahead of her home state’s Republican presidential primary on Saturday.

“I would do anything for Nikki to support her in her efforts to become President of the United States because I believe she is the person who can lead our country back into the prosperity that it deserves,” Bolduc told the Monitor this past week, after a rally in this small upstate South Carolina city.

Bolduc, who’s now a police officer in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, traveled to South Carolina on his days off from work after Haley’s team invited him to join them on the campaign  trail.

Haley faces a very steep uphill climb against former President Donald Trump, the commanding front-runner for the Republican nomination as he bids a third straight time for the White House. And the latest public opinion polls in South Carolina indicated Trump maintaining a very large double-digit lead.

But Haley remains defiant and has turned up the volume on her attacks on the former president. Haley has repeatedly hammered Trump over his recent comments in South Carolina mocking the absence on the campaign trail of her husband Michael – who is on a military deployment overseas. She is using those remarks by the former president to highlight what she argues is his long history of disparaging military members.

Enter Bolduc, who served 10 tours of duty in Afghanistan.

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“What Donald Trump said about Michael Haley is absolutely wrong,” Bolduc stressed at a campaign rally in Camden, S.C. as he spoke ahead of Haley. “He made comments that were…hurtful to our veterans, servicemembers and their families. And he got away with it. And here’s a guy that doesn’t learn from his mistakes. He’s a narcissistic bully who doesn’t learn from his mistakes.”

Bolduc has some political history with Trump.

The then-president endorsed Corky Messner for the GOP nomination as Bolduc ran for the U.S. Senate the first time in the 2020 cycle. Messner ended up winning the nomination but lost by double-digits to Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in the general election.

Trump stayed neutral in the 2022 New Hampshire Republican U.S. Senate primary, as Bolduc narrowly edged former state Senate president Chuck Morse in a crowded field of contenders. Trump endorsed Bolduc in late October of 2022, just ahead of the general election, but criticized the retired general for flip flopping in his initial support of Trump’s unproven claims that his 2020 presidential election loss to Biden was due to massive voter fraud.

Bolduc ended up losing that November to Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. During his general election campaign, Bolduc was joined multiple times on the New Hampshire campaign trail by Haley, who at the time was flirting with a potential 2024 White House run.

Bolduc immediately endorsed Haley as she launched her presidential campaign a year ago and introduced her at dozens of rallies and town halls in New Hampshire.

Haley has vowed to stay in the Republican presidential nomination race, regardless of the results this weekend in South Carolina, at least through Super Tuesday on March 5, when 15 states hold GOP presidential contests.

And Bolduc says he’ll continue to join Haley on the campaign trail.

“You going to see me in a number of other states supporting Nikki. Absolutely,” he emphasized.