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Aug 11, 2016 5:55 PM

In NH1 News interview, Ayotte responds to national security criticism by Hassan

NH1 News Political Director

PORTSMOUTH – Sen. Kelly Ayotte says Gov. Maggie Hassan supports White House policies that make the United States “less safe.”

New Hampshire’s Republican U.S. senator made her comments in an interview with NH1 News on Thursday, one day after Hassan, Ayotte’s Democratic challenger in the state’s blockbuster Senate race, criticized her.

After spelling out her national security proposals at a speech at the American Legion Sweeney Post in Manchester, Hassan took aim at Ayotte as she answered a question from NH1 News.

Hassan highlighted that she’s stood up to her political party over key national security issues, and said that “is at definite odds with what Sen. Ayotte has done. She has been right with her political party putting the political party and its backers interests well before our national security.”

“She has put her party before her state and her country when it comes to national security and that’s a distinction that I will continue to draw in this race,” Hassan added.

WATCH/READ: Hassan targets Trump, Ayotte, as she spells out national security agenda

Speaking with NH1 News after holding a roundtable discussion at Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth on Friday, Ayotte responded to the governor.

“I was glad that she sees some of the ideas that I’ve long been working on in the Senate including improving the vetting of the refugees coming to our country. It’s unfortunate that her party has blocked legislation that would do that. But she continues to support the flawed Iran agreement where you have Iran testing ballistic missiles,” Ayotte said.

“I serve on the Armed Services Committee. My husband’s a combat veteran. I work every single day to keep the country safe. And unfortunately the policies that she’s (Hassan) been supporting under this administration, and continues to support, like the flawed Iran deal, make us less safe,” the senator added.

National security is a top issue in the blockbuster Senate race between Ayotte and Hassan. The Republican incumbent, who also sits on the Homeland Security committees, has questioned Hassan’s experience and understanding of national security issues.

READ: Ayotte tells NH1 News difference of opinion on Trump doesn't complicate Romney fundraiser

Ayotte claims success on detainee report

Ayotte also touted her success in forcing the Pentagon to release a comprehensive and unclassified report about the detainees held at the U.S. prison facility at Guantanamo Bay on the island of Cuba.

Wednesday, Ayotte circulated the report that she first requested in the fiscal 2016 defense policy bill. She also applied pressure by putting a procedural hold on confirming the nomination of the Pentagon’s general counsel.

Ayotte told NH1 News that “unfortunately a significant amount of resistance” came from the Pentagon and from the administration.

Ayotte said that the new report puts “forth information without revealing sources and methods that the American people can know who’s being held at Guantanamo, what are their terrorist backgrounds, because we’ve seen unfortunately that many of these terrorists are being released and we know that 30% of them are suspected or confirmed of reengaging in terrorism.”

Ayotte’s long been a vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s goal of closing the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay. And she charged that the administration’s been anything but transparent when it comes to the detainees.

“The fact that we’re this far into his presidency and we finally get this report and only because I literally had to get a law passed and then they didn’t comply with the law and then I had to hold a significant nominee to get them to put forward. But now it’s out there and it’s important, so unfortunately on this issue they’ve not been transparent,” Ayotte added.

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