Primary Source: Kelly, Sununu Clash Over Kavanaugh

  • Valley News political columnist and news editor John Gregg in West Lebanon, N.H., on September 20, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Democrat Molly Kelly criticized Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on Wednesday for supporting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as an FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct nears its deadline.

Kelly said Sununu, who signed a letter in July backing Kavanaugh’s nomination, should rescind his support in the wake of allegations from college professor Christine Blasey Ford that she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh in 1982, when both were teenagers.

“Instead of standing with women and sexual assault survivors, Chris Sununu continues to stand by Judge Kavanaugh, Donald Trump and his political party,” Kelly said in a statement. “That’s unacceptable.”

The first-term governor was asked by reporters in Concord if he still supported the nomination, and he replied, “We’ll wait to see where the investigation plays out,” according to video posted on Twitter by Paul Steinhauser, a political correspondent for the Concord Monitor.

Kelly also said Sununu should not continue to cast himself as a supporter of abortion rights if he backs Kavanaugh, whom many Democrats fear would help weaken the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

Sununu said that he always has been “pro-choice” throughout his political career and supports Roe v. Wade.

“My opponent can try to make political hay and twist words around and all that, but at the end of the day, my position is extremely clear,” Sununu said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., found himself being attacked, with no merit, by President Trump during a campaign rally on Tuesday night in Mississippi.

Trump, apparently miffed that Leahy has raised key questions about Kavanaugh’s credibility, suggested that the 78-year-old senator has a drinking problem, telling the crowd, “Patrick Leahy — oh, he’s never had a drink in his life ... Check it out: Look under ‘Patrick Leahy slash drink.’ ”

Leahy, who has served in the Senate for 43 years, responded by saying, “By now just about everyone who stands up to this president has been targeted for his bogus attacks and smears. Curiously, everyone except Putin. I must be doing something right.”

He also noted that Kavanaugh refused to say whether he was the basis for “Bart O’Kavanaugh” — a drunken character in high school classmate Mark Judge’s memoir — even though a letter from that era subsequently surfaced which was signed “Bart” by Kavanaugh himself.

“Bottom line: It’s not just ‘Bart O’Kavanaugh,’ or minimizing his contemporaneous drinking or misogyny in his yearbook. On issues big and small, anytime Judge Kavanaugh is faced with an incriminating or difficult question under oath, he cannot be trusted to tell the truth,” Leahy said via Twitter on Wednesday night.

Voices on VPR

The new president and CEO of Vermont Public Radio is looking for a little more diversity — from conservative voices. Scott Finn, the former CEO of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and a former reporter at the Charleston Gazette, has been visiting Vermont’s 14 counties on a listening tour.

He said on VPR’s Vermont Edition show last week that he hears concerns about a growing divide in the state and about whether the economy is sustainable. Diversity of opinion also is an issue.

“Diversity means a lot of things to different people, but to me, diversity is diversity of life experiences, diversity of age, race and ethnicity, and it’s definitely diversity of opinion,” Finn said.

“I do think we need to continue to get more conservative voices on the air, both at VPR and at NPR, and we’re going to keep working on that,” he said later on the show.

Over at New Hampshire Public Radio, Betsy Gardella, who has been president and CEO since 2005, announced her retirement at the end of the year and cleared out her office, according to an NHPR report this week. NHPR had brought in a consultant after concerns were raised about high turnover.

Briefly Noted

■U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is up for re-election next month, is holding a rally at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Woodstock Elementary School Gymnasium. Sanders is being challenged by Republican Lawrence Zupan, a real estate broker from Manchester, Vt.

■It’s no surprise, but the Vermont State Employees Association endorsed Democrat Christine Hallquist in her campaign against Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

■The town of Fairlee is holding a legislative candidates forum at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22, in the newly refurbished Town Hall auditorium. Attendees include Hallquist, state Sens. Jane Kitchel, D-Danville, and Joe Benning, R-Lyndon, and state Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas, D-Bradford.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com.