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Jan 19, 2015 8:59 AM

Kevin Landrigan: Unlike Democratic peers, Ayotte embraces town hall forums


GOFFSTOWN - To play it safe politicians, the town hall style forum is too much of a high wire act. Voters can show up and ask you any question they want and they may just know more than you do about the subject.

"I plan on doing town halls whether it's an election year or not an election year," Ayotte said. "I think people need to hear from me directly. If they want to come to a town hall, meet me in person, ask me their question. I plan on doing that."

"I think it's important part of people understanding what I am doing in Washington."

Town hall forums are indeed the ultimate in risk-reward politics in New Hampshire.

Every presidential candidate intent on winning the first in the nation primary has to have them. Trouble is New Hampshire voters are not only informed, they don't back down.

"These are really good exercises in democracy,'' Ayotte observed.

In Goffstown, Mike Harrington challenged Ayotte to give a report card so the 2015 version is not the do-nothing Congress.

"What are the top three issues i should look at three months from now or in the next several months and say you accomplished this, this and that and that was the success of the next Congress?'' Harrington asked.

Ayotte said passing a budget and bailing out a broke highway fund are important but stripping away the power to stifle senate debate would do even more.

"And by the way not operating the Senate overall as it has been operated, members of both sides of the aisle being able to amend bills and debate them, that to me overrides everything too,'' Ayotte said.

The Nashua Republican also says she's skeptical there's $60 billion out there to pay for President Obama's plan of free community college tuition for all.

These events allow any member of Congress to mix pleasure with business and Ayotte got plenty of joy giving an overdue Bronze Star to retired Air Force Major Jim Lukeman, a Vietnam veteran.

As she ticks through the issues, immigration, health care, the keystone pipeline, the budget, you still can't help but think about 2016, a possible clash of the titans with a popular Gov. Maggie Hassan.


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