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Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway debates with other candidates at Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night. (MEGHAN PIERCE/Union Leader Correspondent)

GOP candidates for governor debate at FPU

RINDGE — The Monadnock Debates 2014 started Tuesday night in Franklin Pierce University’s Spagnuolo Hall with three of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates: Walt Havenstein, Andrew Hemingway and Jonathan Smolin.

While all three candidates said they opposed Obamacare, Hemingway called out Havenstein for his support of the federal law as a businessman.

“My responsibility as a CEO of a multi-billion company is to ensure my customers and shareholders,” Havenstein said. “I’ve always been personally opposed to Obamacare. ... I am opposed to Obamacare and I think its implementation in New Hampshire has been nothing short of a disaster.”

Hemingway said increased competition in the health care marketplace is what is needed to improve the health care system, but right now because of Obamacare, people have no choices in New Hampshire.On higher education, Smolin said college must be made more affordable. College graduates are burdened with so much loan debt they are unable to move out of their parent’s home or start businesses.

The candidates split on allowing casinos in the state. Havenstein said casinos are failing across the country, and it isn’t the business boost New Hampshire needs.

Hemingway said he would propose a small number of gambling machines. And Smolin said casinos could be introduced into the state in a smart way and in doing so, would bring not just business to the casinos, but to the communities throughout the state from people traveling to and from a casino.

Increasing jobs in New Hampshire was a priority for all candidates.

Havenstein said his 81517 plan would target tax, education and regulatory reform with a focus on job creation. The plan would create 25,000 new private jobs by 2017, he said.

“I’m running for governor to get our economy moving again,” Havenstein said. “We’re falling behind,” he added, noting it’s unacceptable and an embarrassment.

“We’re seeing people leave our state for job opportunities outside of our state. ... we have to do better than that,” Havenstein said.

Smolin and Hemingway proposed a flat tax for the state business tax.

Hemingway said his plan would lower the business tax for small business up to 42 percent.

“We have to be serious about breathing life back into our state and we do it by getting government out of the way,” Hemingway said.

Smolin said if residents can graduate and find livable wages in New Hampshire, they will stay in New Hampshire.

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