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Apr 12, 2016 5:54 PM

Steinhauser: Ayotte tells NH1 News 'White House reached out to have me meet with' SCOTUS nominee

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – Sen. Kelly Ayotte tells NH1 News that “I look forward to meeting with him and talking with him.”

New Hampshire’s Republican senator is talking about federals appeals court judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Ayotte meets Wednesday with Garland at her Senate office on Capitol Hill.

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

Ayotte told NH1 News on Tuesday that “the American people should have a say in this important nomination and confirmation process by who they elect in November. We have a divided court and this is very important in terms of impact on the country for decades.”

Asked by NH1 News why she’s meeting with Garland just to inform him in person that she won’t consider his nomination, Ayotte said “I’m certainly going to meet with him out of courtesy and respect and certainly the White House reached out to have me meet with him and I indicated I certainly would be glad to do that.”

The White House reached out to the senator after Ayotte said in interviews with NH1 News and WMUR on March 16, the day Obama made his nomination public, that she would be willing to meet with Garland.

New Hampshire’s former attorney general’s being challenged as she runs for re-election by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan in one of the most high profile, expensive and negative U.S. Senate showdowns in the country.

Ayotte’s been criticized by Hassan, who recently told NH1 News that “Sen. Ayotte is not doing her job.”

“There's nothing in the constitution that says you're supposed to wait until the next president is elected to do your job,” the governor added.

And New Hampshire’s senior senator, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, recently held a news conference outside the federal courthouse in Concord to say that “the idea that we should not do this in an election year is something that’s just been made up for partisan reasons.”

There have been some recent protests at the senator’s Granite State offices, both against and in support of Ayotte’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.

First on NH1 News: End Citizens United launches new ads in Ayotte-Hassan Supreme Battle

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