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NH rep is OK in the hot seat

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

July 24. 2016 10:30PM
AL BALDASARO 

LONDONDERRY — Conservative Republican State Rep. Al Baldasaro never needs to go looking for controversy — it finds him.

The five-term legislator’s stark remarks went viral worldwide at the Republican National Convention last week. That’s when he said Democratic nominee-to-be Hillary Clinton had committed high treason and the penalty for that was death by firing squad.

Establishment Republicans ran for cover from nominee Donald Trump’s campaign (“We do not agree”) to Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, (“Totally irresponsible” and “no place in our society”) and New Hampshire GOP Chairman Jennifer Horn (he “should immediately apologize.”)

But nearly a week later, this 59-year-old, retired Marine sergeant is taking nothing back and instead says he’s basking in the praise from the “silent majority” who send him e-mails and texts of congratulations.

“I got calls and texts of unbelievable support that said they were proud of me for not being scared to speak out, the silent majority,” Baldasaro said. “Sure I got some calls, swearing at me and vulgarity. My wife said, don’t answer but I am going to answer the phone; I am not scared of these people.”

Baldasaro was surprised at the GOP leaders who heaped attacks on him.

“I got Kelly coming after me; I am shocked — she is married to a military man — and Jennifer Horn, she has a son in the Marine Corps,” Baldasaro said.

“I was surprised but that’s the ignorance of the country. They don’t know the U.S. code and don’t realize that it’s right there in the Constitution, aiding and abetting the comfort of the enemy is treason punishable by getting shot for treason.”

Baldasaro said many media outlets inaccurately reported that his comments were about Clinton’s role in the death of four Americans, including an ambassador, at the U.S. compound in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

“Benghazi was all about stupidity and the failure to protect our foreign assets,” Baldasaro said. “I was talking about the e-mails she put on an unencrypted server where our enemies could get free access to classified information. There’s no excuse for that kind of un-American behavior on Hillary’s part.”

Since becoming an early Trump supporter, Baldasaro has enjoyed unusually close access to the candidate who publicly has given a shout-out to Baldasaro at several news conferences.

An unpaid adviser on veteran issues, Baldasaro went to many Trump events throughout the Northeast.

Unlike the rest of the New Hampshire delegation, which stayed much farther away, Trump arranged for Baldasaro and his wife, Judy, to stay in the Cleveland Hilton — six stories down from Trump’s own 21st-floor suite.

“A lot of the campaign staff and all the bigwigs with them, they did privately thank me for speaking out,” Baldasaro said.

This hotel was where Baldasaro briefly spoke with a Secret Service agent who asked about the comments.

“An agent from the Manchester office called. He said I listened to your talk but I still have to ask you a question which was if I wanted to kill Hillary Clinton,” Baldasaro said.

“The answer is, ‘Of course not.’ I just said something that needed to be said; there is still freedom of speech in this country.”

Baldasaro said he exploded on Wednesday after learning his family members were targeted for criticism.

“They attacked my family, My sister got called, my daughter got called and texted and my wife was getting bombed with hateful stuff,” Baldasaro said. “I said, ‘You want to fight with me, fine, but leave my family out of it.’”

This is not unfamiliar territory for Baldasaro.

When Democratic State Rep. Amanda Bouldin objected last winter to legislation making it a crime to show a woman’s breast in public, Baldasaro emailed her, “No disrespect, but your nipple would be the last one I want to see.”

And Baldasaro predicted once Barack Obama leaves office, the American people will learn he’s a “real Muslim.”

“I was a veteran long before I was a Republican, and that’s why I wouldn’t apologize; I wouldn’t back down, never will,” Baldasaro said.

klandrigan@unionleader.com


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