Apr 19, 2016 4:10 AM

Steinhauser: Initial 2016 Senate ad by Planned Parenthood arm slams Ayotte

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – If you need more proof that the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire between Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte and her Democratic challenger Gov. Maggie Hassan is the blockbuster battle of the 2016 cycle so far, here it is: NH1 News has learned that Ayotte’s the target of the first Senate TV commercial this cycle by a political wing of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood Votes will launch an ad on Tuesday that hits Ayotte for what the group calls her “abysmal record on women’s health.” The spot also criticizes Ayotte for standing in lockstep with nearly every other Senate Republican in insisting that the next president rather than President Barack Obama nominate a successor to the late Supreme Court associate justice Antonin Scalia.

“For months, Senator Kelly Ayotte has followed party bosses, refusing to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. For years, Ayotte has waited for an opportunity to push for someone to end access to safe, legal abortion and overturn Roe v. Wade,” says the narrator in the spot.

The commercial then uses a clip from Ayotte from the 2010 GOP primary, when she was first running for the Senate. “Well, I certainly think that Roe should be overturned but I think that has to be done at the United States Supreme Court,” Ayotte says.

The narrator in the ad then says “for New Hampshire women, the consequences of letting Kelly Ayotte play politics with the Constitution could last a lifetime.”

The group, an independent expenditure political committee and a wing of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, says it’s going to spend nearly $400,000 to run the spot on New Hampshire television, including WBIN-TV, starting Tuesday through May 2.

While Planned Parenthood Votes previously ran ads in 2016 presidential primaries, this is the committee’s first time going on air in a Senate race this cycle.

The new ad buy is the latest example of outside groups pouring big bucks into New Hampshire's Senate race, which is one of the most high profile, expensive and negative Senate showdowns in the country.

Ayotte's campaign responded to the new ad in a statement to NH1 News on Tuesday morning.

“As her Washington allies dump $400,000 more in dark money to support Governor Hassan’s negative campaign, it’s clear why Hassan refused to sign the same People’s Pledge that Jeanne Shaheen agreed to,” said Kelly for NH campaign manager Jon Kohan. “Kelly’s long record of standing up for New Hampshire women and families is clear and she cares deeply about ensuring all women have access to health services."

Women's healthcare key issue in race

Ayotte’s voting record on women’s reproductive rights has never been far from the spotlight as she run’s for re-election. In an interview with NH1 News hours after she launched her campaign last October, Hassan said “Sen. Ayotte’s stand against planned parenthood, she voted to defund planned parenthood. That’s deeply, deeply, concerning.”

Days later, the conservative third-party group One Nation launched a seven-figure ad buy in the Granite State defending Ayotte’s record on women’s healthcare.

In their spot, a female narrator said that “almost every day in New Hampshire a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. To find a cure, Sen. Kelly Ayotte is working with senators of both parties to expand breast cancer research and protect annual mammogram screenings for women. Sen. Kelly Ayotte is doing more for women’s health, fighting for over the counter contraception, insuring safe and better options.”

But Deirdre Schifeling disagrees. The executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes said “Kelly Ayotte may try to paint herself as pro-woman, but her record tells a very different story. Every chance she’s gotten she’s voted to ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood and cut women off from essential health care like birth control and breast and cervical cancer screenings. She has been advocating for years to ban women’s access to safe, legal abortion, and it’s clear she now sees her chance in the Supreme Court process.”

And Jennifer Frizzell, vice president of the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, added that “Ayotte’s latest obstruction in refusing to even consider the President’s Supreme Court nominee will have real life consequences for New Hampshire women and could jeopardize access to safe and legal abortion for women across this country for generations to come.”

Ayotte was one of 53 senators to vote in early August to defund Planned Parenthood. But a month later she criticized a high profile effort by some fellow Republican senators, including presidential candidate Ted Cruz of Texas, who attempted to tie the defunding of Planned Parenthood to a government spending bill.

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