William L. “Bill” O’Brien has been around New Hampshire politics since 2004 when he became a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. He ended his House leadership when the Democrats gained control in 2012. In 2014, when the GOP regained control, Bill ran for Speaker but lost to fellow Republican Shawn Jasper.
O’Brien is a lawyer, receiving his bachelor’s degree in history in 1974, followed by a law degree in 1977, and an LLM in intellectual property (IP) in 2003.
While generally soft-spoken, he is not a man without strength or even controversy. His positions are decidedly conservative, and he is equipped with a temperament I describe as not unsuited for a US Senator.
His controversial history includes his closure of the New Hampshire House gallery to union protestors, and eventually the public due to disruptions so egregious, the House could not debate critical issues. When O’Brien was asked why he closed the House to the protestors, he replied, “I think thugs will not rule New Hampshire.” His basis for the closure was provisional, in that “the doors of the galleries . . . shall be kept open to all persons who behave decently.”
O’Brien has had dust-ups over college voters and a statement about the requirements of Obamacare being “a law as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that allowed slave owners to come to New Hampshire and seize African Americans and use the federal courts to take them back…to slave states.”
In the world of political correctness, such a statement was an easy target for accusations. His point was that government-run healthcare was a form of forced compliance with an unconstitutional edict.
Bill O’Brien is now a candidate for the US Senate from New Hampshire, and I had a chance to interview him in detail. He has been endorsed by hundreds of people, with the most prominent endorsement coming from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Here is the interview, my questions are followed by Bill’s answers.
Donald: How is the campaign progressing, and how are your endorsements?
The campaign is going well. Of course, our fundraising is not what we would like it to be! Endorsements number well over one hundred since we have announced. Senator Ted Cruz has endorsed me, and we are pleased with the activist support. People are turning out and coming to our events to support me. It was clear at the Convention of the Republican Party this past weekend we had a great presence, not just in contrast to the other two primary candidates but overall.
Donald: How did the Ted Cruz endorsement happen?
In 2014-15, I was asked to speak at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa. I was asked to meet with Senator Cruz, and we spent a couple of hours together. I met his dad and was very impressed with Ted’s positions and him as a person. Later, I was contacted and asked to be co-chair of his presidential race in New Hampshire. I accepted. We spent days on a bus tour around New Hampshire, became closer, and I appreciated being able to speak on his behalf. When I have been in DC, I have contacted him to get together. I asked him for his endorsement, and he said yes.
Donald: Let’s talk about your relationship with the New Hampshire Republican party. What is your relationship with them, and have they landed on a candidate yet?
At the state party level, I have a very good relationship with the chair. The national GOP has not backed anyone, largely due to the President’s relationship with Cory Lewandowski, who had intended to run. Cory is a friend of mine. He talks straight and has a good grasp of the facts and is not afraid to share them. I’m a candidate now, and Cory has stepped aside. The NH Primary is going to be about 120,000 Republican voters, and I hope to carry the day with them.
Donald: What about your two competitors, how do they fare from a conservative perspective?
One candidate is a retired general who is a nice guy, but I think is trying to find his way in the process and is still formulating his position on key issues like abortion. The other candidate is a guy from Colorado, a lawyer who has built a successful law practice, and who owns a home in New Hampshire. He is spending a lot of money, but I think the people of New Hampshire, Republicans, learned a lesson when Scott Brown, and we have sort of been inoculated with respect to outsiders. The question is, why elect a guy from outside New Hampshire?
Donald: How is the strength of Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire today?
I think Jeanne can be beaten very easily. We polled the state and found that Jeanne has a 60% problematic reputation. She appears to be vulnerable, and there will be outside money coming in to help her. No one has pointed out her history and what she did to the electric industry and healthcare industry. As governor, she took New Hampshire from 26 companies writing insurance to have only two-and-one-half companies, and this was before Obamacare. We were getting 40-50% annual increases. The healthcare industry is terrible. I have a small company and providing health insurance means a $6,000 to $8,000 deductible. My position is not just that the federal government wants to control a large part of the economy represented by healthcare, but worse, they want to tell us how to live. Healthcare is a hook to tell us how to live our lives. What we saw happen under Obamacare resulted in extending the idea of trying to control our lives more.
Donald: Since we on the topic of healthcare, I’ll just blurt this out…are you one-hundred-percent pro-life, and if the answer is yes, what does that mean?
To me, it means life begins at conception. My position is not politically expedient, but I believe lie begins at conception and should not be sacrificed because of the circumstances giving rise to it, including rape. I’m pretty absolute in wanting to protect the innocent. It reflects who I am as a politician and as a religious person. I believe the sanctity of life extends through natural death. I’m on the Board of Directors of Euthanasia Prevention USA. The funding of Planned Parenthood continues in New Hampshire through the state, Governor Sununu, and it’s used to fund political issues and campaigns. It doesn’t surprise me. Government gains and buys its own constituency. This is a reason we need to strive to limit government, as a be-all and end-all to itself. There are a lot of groups out there that are non-profits but their sole source of income is government, taxpayers. Planned Parenthood campaigns and supports those politicians who give it money. Those we elect and those we hire in government should be public servants, and we’ve lost that. When a politician looks at a person on the street or in public, that person is their boss. Its the Democrat philosophy that we know better than you, we’re the experts, and people are offended at that…it’s actually the source of President Donald Trump’s success.
Donald: What’s the biggest political mistake you’ve ever made?
Not recognizing who Donald Trump was and what he would do, I was very concerned. I was a delegate to the national convention, and even there, I was concerned Donald Trump might default to a moderate or liberal. It really took me watching him in the office of President. The Democrats treated Donald Trump as a Republican, and it left him understanding his friends and allies and the strength of the public argument laid with Republicans.
Donald: Is New Hampshire purple, red, blue? Which direction is that arrow going?
It’s certainly not as red as it used to be. Years ago, in my district, if you were a Republican you would win. Now, you have to really work at it to win. New Hampshire is still a center-right state. There is a combination of an increasingly strong, non-republican libertarian bent. People agree much more with the Republican Party than not…on issues. So, the state is not lost. It’s a lot tougher, but a well-run Republican candidate can still run a race and win.
Donald: What do you wish you were better at, politically and personally?
Fundraising! I’d like to be more persuasive.
Donald: What is the one thing that you will never, ever compromise, even unto death?
I would never compromise my religious faith. What it means to be a believing person in the public square. We’re only here as a part of our journey. I couldn’t live with myself if I compromised that part of who I am. I’m a Catholic, and my beliefs come from that source, ultimately from God. The First Amendment and the thoughts that went into it was an effort to protect religion from the state, not to protect the state from religion.
Donald: What’s your position on taxation, self-reliance and personal property rights?
I brought my family up to New Hampshire from Boston where I had a law practice because I wanted my family to be in a more family-friendly area. Someone asked me to run for the local school board. So, I did, and I won. And in short order people started calling me that conservative guy because I questioned why some expenditures were allowed to go through. People would say, “It’s only $5,000,” but my thinking it was someone’s money. It’s not the government’s property or money, it’s someone else’s money. We should not turn over our sovereign lives to the government. America’s government is supposed to be limited. The government wants to grow, people think we can do more and better by using the government. With the federal government, we have to understand the genius of the Founders, they gave us a limited government with checks and balances, and that’s what we have to protect. We need to return to that balance becaue in that balance lies liberty.
Donald: Do you think America today is a sovereign nation?
I think we are, unfortunately, because of the decay of our governing institutions, I tend to think we are a country being acted upon by other countries. Immigration is not something that is always bad, but it should be something that we benefit from…something that adds to our country. My dad’s parents were from Ireland. When his mother spoke in Irish, and kids were around, his father would insist that English be spoken.
Donald: If you are in the US Senate and legislation comes up to repeal Roe v. Wade and ban abortion, will you support that legislation?
I would welcome it…and probably sponsor it.
Donald: How many kids do you have?
Donald: What’s your favorite color?
Donald: What was the make and model of the first car you ever owned?
It was a 1963 Mercury Comet.
Donald: What’s the best book you’ve ever read in your life?
The book I most enjoyed was Blake’s biography of Benjamin Disraeli. He became Prime Minister.
Donald: What’s the one food you can’t resist and always want?
I would be sorely missing out if I couldn’t have a good steak once in a while.
Donald: What time do you wake up in the morning?
Usually, six or six-thirty.
Donald: What was your first job, and how old were you?
My very first job was working on a vegetable farm. I was about 13 years old. I picked tomatoes, strawberries…and then I went to work at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Donald: What’s the best place to vacation in New Hampshire?
One of my favorite places is in the North Conway area, it’s beautiful. Since I like to fish, I like to go up to the Connecticut Lakes, which are the headwaters of the Connecticut River.
Donald: Excluding Donald Trump, who in your opinion was the best President ever?
Donald: Who is your favorite news commentator, and why?
I like Ben Shapiro, actually. He’s a smart guy, courageous, he has a good grasp of the issues, and a well-developed way of expressing things. He doesn’t care how you feel about facts.
Donald: If you could only eliminate one national problem today, which problem would you eliminate?
The lack of morality in our society. John Adams said that the American experiment only works if we are moral people. So much would fall into place if we maintained our ethics and morality.
This is the final comment from Bill O’Brien to me:
“I went through the iVoteAmerica website. I think your efforts are just great. We need people out there reminding us of who we are as Americans, and that we can’t walk away from our foundations or all is lost. It’s not the natural state of man to live in liberty and freedom, we ought to be very protective of what we have and very careful.” – Bill O’Brien
Bill O’Brien Campaign Website
Donate to Bill O’Brien for US Senate – New Hampshire
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