Trump Takes Spotlight in GOP Senate Debate

August 8, 2018

U.S. Senate candidates, from left, Geoff Diehl, Beth Lindstrom and John Kingston debate in the Boston Herald studios as the Herald's Hillary Chabot and Joe Battenfeld look on Tuesday. Mark Garfinkel/Boston Herald Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

By Sean Philip Cotter

Boston Herald

BOSTON -- U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a bigger threat than Russia, GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Geoff Diehl insisted Tuesday, saying his Democratic rival is the one pushing communist notions.

“Russia is not the old Soviet Union,” Diehl said during yesterday’s Boston Herald Radio’s GOP Senate primary debate. “To me, the bigger threat is someone like Elizabeth Warren.”

The debate -- the first face-to-face event between the three GOP candidates for Senate -- was moderated by Boston Herald columnists Joe Battenfeld and Hillary Chabot. Diehl, a state representative and front-runner in the race, faced former Romney cabinet member Beth Lindstrom and businessman John Kingston.

“Elizabeth Warren is a bigger threat than Russia?” Battenfeld said, pressing Diehl on his statement. Diehl doubled down.

“Elizabeth Warren is a big problem,” Diehl said. “She wants to get our -- what you heard her recently on CNBC that she wants to tax us anywhere between 50 percent and 90 percent. She seems to be the new communist regime here in the United States, with the progressive movement to make government so big. Whether it’s taking over health care or free education, all of that coming at a price tag, with health care of $32.6 trillion. That doubles our $34 trillion federal budget.”

Kingston pushed back, saying “We have to be careful with our false equivalency... the Russians aren’t our friends -- they just flat aren’t.”

Diehl then tried to walk back his remarks, saying being “facetious” about Warren.

When asked about the comments and others throughout the debate framing Warren as an extremist, the senator’s campaign spokeswoman Gabrielle Farrell said, “Massachusetts Republicans will decide among themselves who will run for U.S. Senate. Senator Warren is focused on her work fighting for the people of Massachusetts and standing up for working families against powerful corporate interests.”

Meanwhile Lindstrom came out swinging in the debate, suggesting frontrunner Diehl is unelectable in deep-blue Massachusetts because of his full-throated support for Trump.

“You will have a tough time if you are a blind loyalist like Geoff is,” said the centrist Lindstrom, though she said she is ready to vote to re-elect Trump. “He cannot unseat her.”

Diehl shot back that his long-standing support for Trump could benefit Massachusetts citizens by giving the state stronger pull than it would have otherwise.

“That gives me a seat at the table that Massachusetts doesn’t have,” Diehl said.

Massachusetts political strategists say whoever receives the GOP nod in the Sept. 4 primary will have a very difficult time taking on Warren.

“I don’t think any of the Republican candidates have a shot at winning this,” political observer Todd Domke said. “This state is so anti-Trump... That’s what it’ll come down to: are you pro-Trump or anti-Trump -- and Trump will help make it that binary of a choice.”

Update hourly