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Oct 31, 2016 5:55 PM

Ayotte, Hassan, talk 1-on-1 with NH1 News about Clinton emails, controversial contributions

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – Sen. Kelly Ayotte is calling out Gov. Maggie Hassan for not calling out Hillary Clinton.

New Hampshire’s Republican U.S. senator made her comments in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News on Monday, as the FBI formally began investigating emails that could be related to the private server the Democratic presidential nominee used during her years as secretary of state. The news on Friday that the FBI would be re-opening their investigation rocked the race for the White House, with GOP nominee Donald Trump cheering the announcement, and the Clinton campaign blasting the move.

Ayotte, who’s long argued that Hassan would be a rubber stamp in the Senate for a President Clinton, took aim at her Democratic challenger.

“I think that Gov. Hassan really has not called out Sec. Clinton on this issue. I mean even before with the private email server and the classified information that could have jeopardized our national security, Gov. Hassan did not make clear, she called it a mistake, but it’s more than a mistake it’s about our national security,” Ayotte told NH1 News.

“So I think with the most recent revelations, again Gov. Hassan has been apologetic about it, and she should be clear. This is a very important issue in terms of our security and it needs to be fully investigated,” Ayotte added.

NH1 News spoke with Ayotte in Concord, in front of her new campaign bus.

About an hour later NH1 News talked with Hassan following a canvass kick off with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, and State Sens. Donna Soucy and Lou D’Alessandro at the state party’s coordinated office in Manchester.

“I think the American people and Granite Staters need for information from (FBI) Director (James) Comey. Look, this has been an issue that’s been investigated exhaustively. Hillary Clinton has said that she made a mistake in the way that she handled her emails and has apologized for it and I think that that’s appropriate,” Hassan said.

But the governor added that “what’s on the line in this Senate election is whether we’re going to have in Sen. Ayotte a senator who puts corporate special interests first.”

Campaign contributions

Hassan spoke with NH1 News one day after the governor said she would return campaign contributions from the Thorton Law Firm in Massachusetts.

The firm donated nearly $1.6 million to numerous Democratic candidates and committees from 2010-2014. That includes $38,000 to Hassan’s current campaign for the Senate and $13,000 to her 2014 gubernatorial re-election campaign.

The Boston Globe reported over the weekend that lawyers at the firm received bonuses equal to the amount of their political contributions. Reimbursing people for such donations is generally considered illegal.

“We obviously had no idea about the internal workings of this law firm which is what that story is about. But we have gone ahead and are in the process of returning all the contributions and I assume that the other candidates that the story profiled, Republican and Democrats, also had no idea about the internal workings of the firm and assume their assessing what they should to as well,” Hassan told NH1 News.

In the past, Ayotte’s also returned political contributions later deemed controversial. Asked about the news about Hassan, the senator said “I appreciate that Gov. Hassan has returned the most recent contributions. I’ve done the same. Whenever any issues have been raised about contributions I’ve returned them.”

Who gets to drive bus

With eight days to go until Election Day, polls suggest the race between the two candidates remains all knotted up.

Asked what will make the difference in the final week, Hassan said “what I’ll continue to do for the next eight day is to make the case to the people of New Hampshire about our potential of building a brighter stronger Granite State where everyone has a chance to get ahead and stay ahead.”

It was a similar message from Ayotte, who told NH1 News the key is “really getting out and shaking the hands of New Hampshire voters, out there talking to the people about what’s on their minds and we’re going to be driving in this bus throughout this state and I look forward to meeting people in person and really earning their support.”

WATCH: The NH1 News general election debates for U.S. Senate, the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts, and Governor

Asked if she gets to drive her new campaign bus, Ayotte joked “they don’t trust me driving the bus. I’ll be riding the bus but someone who has more training will be driving this bus, because it’s pretty big getting through narrow places.”

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