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Jun 6, 2016 5:48 PM

Steinhauser: Hassan criticizes Ayotte as she files candidacy for US Senate

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan criticized Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s record on the war against terrorism and touted that “I will always speak out and disagree with my party as necessary.”

Hassan made her comments in the State House moments after filing her candidacy to run for the U.S. Senate against Ayotte.

The governor made the short walk from the Corner Office to the Secretary of State’s office surrounded by a loud crowd of very vocal supporters. Hassan then filed the necessary paperwork before taking questions from reporters.

Last week as she filed, Ayotte highlighted her years on the Senate Armed Services and Homeland Security committees when she touted that “I think there are significant differences not only between our understanding of those threats and what we need to do to address them but also I’m in a better position, I think, to deliver results for our men and women in uniform whether it’s at the Shipyard or whether it’s at Pease, and for our veterans.”

On Monday, Hassan said that “just in the last year or so, she (Ayotte) has voted to continue to allow known and suspected terrorists, including those on our no fly list, to purchase guns, so she could fulfill a campaign promise to the NRA. She signed onto a highly partisan letter to Iran that experts said undermined American foreign policy. And now she is supporting Donald Trump despite the judgement of national security and foreign policy experts that he poses a threat to our vital interests.”

“I will always speak out and disagree with my party as necessary, including on national security. But Kelly Ayotte has consistently put her party and her special interests before the people of New Hampshire and before our country’s security,” Hassan continued.

And Hassan highlighted that “I do not support the President’s proposal to close Guantanamo Bay. Any proposal has to address our vital interests and the proposal the President put out does not. So I support the continuation of the use Guantanamo Bay for terrorist detainees.”

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Responding to Hassan's comments, Ayotte campaign spokeswoman Liz Johnson told NH1 News "Kelly voted to strengthen background checks and encourage states to submit relevant mental health records into the system, increase prosecutions of those who try to buy guns illegally, and keep guns out of the hands of terrorists."

"Given Hassan's well-documented inexperience on national security, she's hardly in a position to launch attacks on these issues," Johnson added.

The battle between Ayotte and Hassan is one of the most high profile, expensive, and negative Senate races in the country. Ayotte also faces a longshot primary challenge by former state senator and 2014 U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rubens.

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