1st Congressional Debate Brings Top Issues to the Putnam Center


September 8th, 2022, brought the third and final installment of the Live Free or Die debate series to the Putnam Center on the campus of New England College. Candidates running in the Republican primary for the 1st Congressional district took the stage including Gail Huff Brown, Matt Mowers, Russell Prescott, Tim Baxter, and Karoline Leavitt.

The candidates spoke on various topics including student loans, healthcare, and school safety. Andrew Moylan of the NewEnglander sat on the media panel and ask some hard-hitting questions.

Pam Tucker, Vice Chair of the Republican Party of New Hampshire, kicked off the debate by encouraging everyone to vote in the primary election on September 13th.

“Politics are a sport here in New Hampshire,” Tucker said.

The candidates are hoping to reach voters and beat incumbent democrat Chris Pappas.

Below is an overview of what the candidates discussed during Thurday’s debate:

Gail Huff Brown

“I’m an independent conservative.”

She had many supporters in the audience. Huff Brown discussed her long career as a journalist and how this is her first election. Huff Brown said she has been paying into Social Security for 46 years and expects that she will receive her benefits when she’s eligible.

When Mowers and Leavitt, both younger candidates, began to bicker Huff Brown said age is a factor voters should consider.

“We have enough kids in Washington; let’s send an adult,” she said.

“I’ve talked for the past year and eight days when I stepped into this race and telling people why they should vote for me. I believe I’m the best person to go to Washington and fight these problems.”

Matt Mowers

“We’re running this campaign the New Hampshire way,” Mowers said.

“I want to make sure that’s within reach of my son,” said about the idea of the American Dream.

When other candidates tried to call Mowers out for potentially voting twice in a past election, Mowers argued that it was investigated and dismissed.

“The only thing I’m going to work for in Washington is the people of New Hampshire.”

When it came to talking about the vote next week, Mower’s said he’s confident he will do well.

“I know the people of New Hampshire are smart.”


Russell Prescott

“I can win in November. I can beat Chris Pappas.”

When asked about gun laws and the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Prescott said firearms are not to blame and then became emotional.

“I would not support any change to our laws,” he said.

Prescott said he has two main goals if elected:

“Balance the budget and fix the economy,” he said.

“I know I’m not known in Washington; I’m an independent; vote for me.”


Tim Baxter

“If you want a lobbyist, there’s one on this stage, but if you want a proven conservative fighter, vote for me.”

When asked about his position on guns and school safety Baxter said he is in full support of the 2nd Amendment.

“I will never apologize to be proud of my 2nd amendment right. Send me to Washington, and I will protect your second amendment rights.”

Baxter fully believes that his campaign will send him into the general election, although the most recent UNH Survey Center poll ranks him at receiving 4% votes among likely voters.

“We’re building a base that can go upward in the general election.”

In an unusual move, Baxter gave the audience his cell phone number during closing remarks.

“You have another choice vote for me, vote freedom, and give me a call at 603-997-8108; talk to me anytime.”


Karoline Leavitt

“I’m a proud born and grown Granite Stater with a family business.”

Leavitt and Mowers exchanged heated words several times during the debate.

“You’re a coward, Matt; the fact that you can’t even say my name Matt and you refer to me as ‘the previous candidate’ proves to me you’re a coward. I have a name. It’s Karoline Leavitt.”

One of the exchanges between the two candidates focused on campaign funding.

“If you want to know the real grass roots campaign, follow the money,” she said.

When asked about guns and school safety Leavitt called schools ‘soft targets’ for ‘young deranged, isolated, white men.’


While the candidates all had their fair share of sparring, they all agreed that prescription drug prices should be lowered. They also all encourage everyone to get out to vote on September 13th, 2022.



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Lily Geber is a Senior at NEC with a double major in Political Science and Communication. She serves as Editor in Chief of the New Englander.
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