CONCORD, N.H. — Democratic U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen received mixed reactions Friday for their stance that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee deserves a hearing.

“It is not in our interest to deny a hearing to Neil Gorsuch,” Shaheen said during a public town hall, prompting boos from some members of the audience.

But others applauded when the senators said they didn’t want to mimic Republicans, who denied a hearing to President Barack Obama’s high court nominee last year.

“I’m not going to go out and say it was wrong for them but right for us,” Shaheen said.

The exchange marked one of the few challenges Shaheen or Hassan received from the crowd at the joint town hall event, where they spoke with a friendly audience of more than 400 people. Members of Congress have been holding town halls across the country during a break from Washington.

Republicans have faced throngs of constituents, including protesters, who want to talk about Trump’s policies. But the New Hampshire Democrats’ event drew no protesters and few tough questions.


Most audience members wanted advice on how to fight Trump on everything from health care to climate change to civil rights policies. Shaheen pushed back against one man who suggested the Democratic Party has lost its way.

“I actually don’t subscribe to the theory that Democrats don’t know what we believe anymore,” Shaheen said, adding she believes in making sure everyone has a good education, a good job and good health care.

Both she and Hassan were highly critical of Trump’s international agenda and views on Russia. And as former governors, they said it’s just as important to engage on state and local issues as it is on federal ones. Republicans now control the governorship and New Hampshire legislature.

They told the audience to urge Gov. Chris Sununu to stand up for the federal Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, not to tighten election laws and to hold true to his word that he supports abortion rights.

“It’s really important that people speak up about what’s happening here in the state as well as what’s happening nationally,” Hassan said.

Despite their pledge to fight for LGBTQ rights, preserve international institutions like NATO, and protect public schools, Shaheen offered a somewhat dark assessment of the political climate.


“I’m seeing our democracy challenged in a way I didn’t ever expect to be seeing,” she said.

The town hall came a day after Concord and other parts of New England saw record high temperatures for February, prompting an audience member to yell out a climate-related question as the event was wrapping up.

One audience member pointed out that the senators were using plastic, non-reusable water bottles despite their pledge to fight climate change.

But the audience largely applauded as both senators addressed the issue. Shaheen pointed out that New Hampshire’s moose population has been declining partly due to warmer temperatures.

“You know that this is a huge threat and that we need to act on it,” she said.

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