Oct 7, 2016 11:13 PM
NH1 News Political Director
CONCORD – Extremely lewd comments by Donald Trump regarding his attempts to have sex with women from a decade ago that are rocking the race for the White House are also front and center in New Hampshire’s blockbuster U.S. Senate race.
Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte called the GOP nominee’s comments “totally inappropriate and offensive,” while her Democratic challenger Gov. Maggie Hassan termed Trump’s language as “vile” and said Ayotte’s response to them was “pathetic and wrong.”
The Washington Post first published the video on Wednesday afternoon. It captured Trump on an open microphone in 2005 using extremely offensive language when discussing trying to have sex with women. Trump made the comments to Billy Bush, who was a host for Access Hollywood at the time.
The video quickly sparked outrage not only among Democrats but also among many Republicans.
Trump apologized for the comments in a statement, but tried to shift the spotlight to former President Bill Clinton.
“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course - not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended,” he wrote.
Early Saturday morning Trump put out a video, saying "I've said and done things I regret," he said. "Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize."
"I pledge to be a better man tomorrow," he added.
But Trump also tried to turn the tables in the video and once again attack the Clintons, saying “Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”
Ayotte, Hassan reaction
Ayotte, who’s tried to keep her distance from Trump for months and who’s said she’ll vote for the GOP nominee but won’t endorse him, said in a statement provided to NH1 News “his comments are totally inappropriate and offensive.”
Hassan also putting out a statement, saying “it’s unfathomable and utterly inexcusable that Kelly Ayotte could hear these vile Trump comments, bragging about sexual assault, and not immediately disavow his candidacy for President. Merely calling Trump's comments 'inappropriate' while continuing to support him to lead the free world is pathetic and wrong."
Following a rally at Nashua Community College where Hassan teamed up with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Hassan told NH1 News that Ayotte “can try to distance herself all she wants from Donald Trump, but the fact of the matter is when you vote for somebody you are voting to put them in office. The highest office in our land, the leader of the free world, the most important voice in the globe, the person who represents all Americans to the rest of the world, and that’s the person that she thinks should be a role model? It’s appalling.”
The “role model” comment refers to a major controversy from earlier this week in the Senate race.
On Monday evening, in the first televised debate between the two candidates, Ayotte was asked if she would point children towards the GOP presidential nominee as a role model. Ayotte, who’s kept her distance from Trump and has repeatedly said for months that she’ll vote for him but is not endorsing him, answered “I would tell a child to absolutely aspire to be their best and aspire to be president.”
Asked again by the panelist, WKXL radio host Chris Ryan, if she specifically would point to Trump as a role model, Ayotte answered “I think that certainly there many role models that we have and I believe he can serve as president and so absolutely I would do that.”
The Hassan campaign, state and national Democrats, and pro-Democratic outside groups quickly attacked Ayotte over saying “absolutely.” On Tuesday morning the Hassan campaign released a web video that showcased the now infamous clip and highlighted some of Trump’s low-lights over the past couple of weeks.
And in a statement, Hassan said that Ayotte’s words speak “for itself and was a revealing moment that she cannot take back."
Hours after the debate Ayotte released a statement saying she misspoke.
The next day, speaking to NH1 News and a other news organizations, Ayotte said “I misspoke and certainly I hope that all of our children aspire to run for president but I would not hold out either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as good examples and I wouldn’t hold them out as examples of role models for my children.”
Asked by NH1 News on Tuesday if she’s comfortable voting for Trump as President even if she doesn’t consider him a role model for children, Ayotte said “just like voters here in New Hampshire, in this election there really are two choices of who could potentially become president. I’ve said that I plan to vote for him but I’ve had disagreements with him on a multitude of issues.
And asked by NH1 News if it’s frustrating to answer repeated questions about Trump, Ayotte answered “I have to tell you, you all like to ask these questions much than average voters do. And the people of New Hampshire want to know what are we going to do to get done on our heroin epidemic, on good jobs, on our national security challenges that are facing our state. But I have a lot of confidence that the people of New Hampshire are going to look at who’s the best person to serve as their voice in the Senate and who will stand up for them no matter who’s in the Oval Office.”
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