Ayotte will write-in Pence for president, Hassan labels her “Craven Kelly”
By Evan Lips | October 8, 2016, 13:39 EST
NASHUA, N.H. — Republican lawmakers facing reelection this fall are running for cover after the latest round of crude comments coming from GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, including incumbent U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who announced Saturday morning that the reality television star will not be getting her vote in November.
Ayotte said she plans instead to cast a write-in vote for Trump’s vice presidential running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence:
I will not vote for Donald Trump. Read my statement here: pic.twitter.com/F8zajgDZpg
— Kelly Ayotte (@KellyAyotte) October 8, 2016
The Nashua Republican made the announcement a day after a leaked tape obtained by the Washington Post showed Trump carrying on in an extremely lewd conversation about women. The video captured a “hot microphone” conversation between Trump and Billy Bush, who at the time was a personality on the “Access Hollywood” television show. Trump can be heard boasting about how his stardom allowed him to kiss and grope women without their apparent consent.
For Ayotte, who is engaged in a heated re-election campaign against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, the presence of Trump as the GOP’s presidential flagbearer has been a thorn in her side ever since the real estate mogul emerged from the crowded primary field.
In early August Trump announced his endorsement of Ayotte, who had been walking a proverbial political tightrope regarding her support for Trump’s candidacy. In May Ayotte’s camp said she “plans to support the nominee” but stopped short of offering her full endorsement.
Hassan, whose campaign spent the bulk of the summer hammering Ayotte over any perceived connections between the incumbent and the firebrand Trump, pounced last Monday when during a televised debate Ayotte said she would tell children to look to Trump as a role model. Ayotte later said she misspoke.
Trump’s latest public relations black eye has resulted in Hassan furthering hammering her Republican opponent, describing Ayotte’s decision to write-in Pence as “transparent, craven attempt at political self-preservation.”
In a prepared statement, Hassan added that Ayotte on Saturday “simply reinforced that everything she does is based on cold, political calculations about what is in her personal best interest” and only arrived at her Pence decision “after spending 24 hours running the political math.”
“What Kelly Ayotte doesn’t seem to understand is the chance to show courage has long past, and her hollow words today reveal as much about her own character as they do Donald Trump’s,” Hassan stated. “Her words are far too little and far too late.”
Pence on Saturday said in a prepared statement that he was “offended” by Trump’s comments but also indicated he’s standing by the GOP nominee:
My statement below: pic.twitter.com/92VYEAxIcl
— Mike Pence (@mike_pence) October 8, 2016
On Saturday afternoon, Hassan’s camp unveiled a new attack slogan aimed at tying Ayotte to various instances in which Trump spoke crudely about his female foes:
The most recent poll results, released Thursday by Suffolk University in conjunction with the Boston Globe, shows Ayotte holding a 6-point lead, although a Real Clear Politics average of all polls shows Ayotte clinging to a scant 2.3-point lead.