Hassan pounces on Ayotte’s Trump response
By Evan Lips | October 4, 2016, 16:08 EDT
HENNIKER, N.H. — Gov. Maggie Hassan’s tireless efforts to tie Sen. Kelly Ayotte to firebrand Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received an enormous assist during Monday’s debate, after Ayotte was asked about whether she would tell children to look up to Trump as a role model.
“I think that certainly, there are many role models that we have, and I believe he can serve as president, and so I would absolutely do that,” Ayotte said.
This one may have legs: Sen. Kelly Ayotte says in NH debate that Trump would “absolutely” be a role model for kids https://t.co/MRZd48kXgN
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) October 4, 2016
Within minutes, Hassan’s camp fired off a press release ripping Ayotte’s answer as “cringe-worthy.”
“Ayotte has tried to have it both ways all cycle with her tortured ‘support but not endorse’ position, but tonight she fully embraced the worst of Trump,” Hassan’s campaign added in its statement.
Hassan’s campaign later compiled a collection of Twitter reactions to Ayotte’s Trump quote. The collection was predictably a mix of shock and outrage, with Hassan’s campaign introducing readers of the compilation via the title, “Ayotte says Trump ‘Absolutely’ a role model, absolutely breaks the Internet.”
Ayotte responded by releasing a statement of her own in which the Granite State incumbent claimed she misspoke:
My statement on tonight’s debate: pic.twitter.com/BxNE0NQn6m
— Kelly Ayotte (@KellyAyotte) October 4, 2016
Ayotte also chastised Hassan for remaining “in lockstep” with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and adding that she has “stood up” to Trump on “multiple occasions.”
The debate came on the heels of an odd weekend for Ayotte, one which saw her campaign distribute condoms on Saturday to students at the University of New Hampshire, catching the ire of Planned Parenthood supporters:
— Ben Halle (@bhalle87) October 1, 2016
A Twitter beef later ensued, with Hassan’s campaign alleging that Ayotte’s own digital director admitted the handouts were a “campaign tactic.”
— Thomas Reiker (@ReikerRant) October 3, 2016
As word spread of the condom giveaway, Hassan’s campaign proceeded to gather statements from various major players representing the abortion industry, including Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards.
“A free condom is not a substitute for the care that 13,000 New Hampshire patients receive at Planned Parenthood health centers – which Kelly Ayotte voted to defund six times,” Richards said in a prepared statement. “Kelly Ayotte is making a desperate attempt to cover up her long record of attacking reproductive health care – which includes her six votes to defund Planned Parenthood, a half-baked proposal that would make birth control more expensive for millions of women, and attempts to repeal the benefit that gave over 55 million women access to no-copay birth control.”
The next debate between Ayotte and Hassan is scheduled for Oct. 14. According to the latest Real Clear Politics poll averages, Ayotte is maintaining a little more than a 1.5-point lead, well within the margin of error.