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Apr 13, 2016 10:05 PM

Steinhauser: Ayotte describes Supreme meeting, Hassan slams senator

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – Sen. Kelly Ayotte says “I had a very cordial discussion with Judge Garland.”

New Hampshire’s Republican U.S. senator was describing her meeting Wednesday at her Capitol Hill office with Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

Ayotte and nearly all of her fellow GOP senators insist that the next president, rather than Obama, nominate a successor to the late conservative justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

Describing her conversation with Garland, Ayotte told NH1 News that “I explained to him clearly that I felt that this process should go forward after the people have spoken in November. We’re in the middle of a vigorous presidential election. Given the consequential nature of this position that will have an impact on the balance of the court for decades.”

As for Garland’s reaction, Ayotte said “I don’t think he was surprised about it at all.”

Asked by NH1 News if she’s concerned that her stance means a potential President Trump or President Clinton would get to make the nomination, Ayotte said “I’m not going to presume what their vote will be. That is their right. And I think this is important that we wait to see what happens in November and we have the nomination and confirmation process go forward then.”

Hassan: Ayotte 'standing with the far right party leadership'

Ayotte’s being challenged as she runs for re-election by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan in one of the biggest Senate showdowns in the country.

Speaking with NH1 News on Wednesday, Hassan said Ayotte’s “had a chance to demonstrate independence here and she failed that test.”

Hassan charged that “her decision to refuse to do her job and refuse to support nominations so that the people of New Hampshire could find out more about Judge Garland and could communicate with her and Sen. Shaheen about what they think about this and then have Sen. Shaheen and Sen. Ayotte then exercise their judgement and their vote really speaks to who she stands with and what she stands for and she is standing with the far right party leadership, the national Republicans who tell her what to do, and she’s doing it.”

There have been some recent protests at Ayotte’s Granite State offices, both against and in support of the senator’s stance. But the real action’s come from third party groups, which have spent big bucks to run TV ads on New Hampshire airwaves in the Supreme Court battle. The Senate Majority PAC, the main super PAC backing Democratic Senate candidates, and End Citizens United, have run ads over the past two months. On the other side of the fight, the conservative group Judicial Crisis Network, has aired commercials in support of Ayotte.

“Senator Ayotte has shown great courage in standing strong against President Obama and Democrats’ attempts to bully the Senate into confirming another liberal judge who will hand the Left a five-vote majority on the Supreme Court for years to come,” said JCN chief counsel and policy director Carrie Severino, in a statement.

“We appreciate that she is willing to stand strong in the face of a relentless and dishonest campaign from President Obama and his liberal allies who will say anything to clinch a liberal majority on the Court,” she added.

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