Steinhauser-First on NH1 News: Ayotte says she'll 'vote for' but not 'endorse' Trump
CONCORD – Sen. Kelly Ayotte says she’ll vote for “our Republican nominee” but that she doesn’t “intend to endorse anyone” in the race for the White House.
Asked by NH1 News if she’ll support or endorse Donald Trump, Ayotte said “I think each person will make their own decision. I’ve said that I’m going to vote for our Republican nominee. But I don’t intend to endorse anyone in this race. I’m running for re-election and I’m really focusing on serving the people of New Hampshire and the work that I do for them.”
The senator’s answer on Monday was her first public comment regarding Trump since he last week became the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, following his convincing victory in the Indiana primary and the moves by rival candidates Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to end their bids for the Republican nomination.
In interviews with NH1 News and other news organizations over the past few months, New Hampshire’s Republican U.S. senator has appeared to keep her distance from Trump. For example, Ayotte told NH1 News in Derry in March that “I plan to support the Republican nominee however I’m going to watch to see how this process plays out.”
A few weeks later in Nashua, she said “I intend to support the Republican nominee but we’ll see how this plays out.”
Ayotte spoke with NH1 News following the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Hope for New Hampshire Recovery center in Concord. As she runs for re-election this year she’s being challenged by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan in one of the nation’s most high profile, expensive and negative Senate races.
Fight over absentee rate
Last week the Ayotte campaign highlighted an article in the New Hampshire Union Leader that reported that the governor spent half of the month of April outside the Granite State. Asked about her challenger’s absentee rate, the senator said “the governor is the chief executive of the state and she said she was going to be focused on that job even though she was running for Senate. So I think that’s really an important issue.”
Last week Hassan defended her travel schedule, saying “I was in state for many of the days that they’re talking about and I was also generally within New England. I think is pretty hypocritical of Sen. Ayotte who has refused to be transparent about her own travel schedule.”
With Congress on break last week, Ayotte had no public schedule from Monday afternoon until Saturday. Asked where she was, the senator on Monday told NH1 News “I had a number of private events for my campaign.”
Hassan travels to New York City Monday, to team up with Vice President Biden for a fundraiser. Asked about the campaign event, Hassan told NH1 News last week that “I am so proud and glad to have the support of Vice President Biden, who has been a champion for working families for his entire career and I’m looking forward to seeing him.”
A source with knowledge of the event in Manhattan told NH1 News that the bulk of the proceeds from the fundraiser will go to Hassan’s Senate campaign, with the remaining dollars headed to the New Hampshire Democratic Party.