Kelly Ayotte endorses Donald Trump amidst bipartisan criticism for political about-face

Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte talks to reporters Tuesday Oct. 4, 2016 in Hudson, N.H. telling them she “misspoke” when she said Donald Trump is a role model for children during a live televised debate. She later withdrew her support for the former president, citing his boasting of sexually assaulting women. She endorsed Trump's 2024 nomination today. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

By Colin Booth

March 6, 2024

Leading Republican candidate for New Hampshire Governor Kelly Ayotte endorsed Donald Trump on Wednesday and was swiftly accused of rank hypocrisy by both Republicans and Democrats for turning on a position that defined her failed 2016 reelection campaign for Senate.

Ayotte called Donald Trump a “role model” on October 4, 2016. Five days later, she reversed course, saying she would not vote for Trump in the 2016 election, asserting that language he used in the now-infamous Access Hollywood tapes describing his sexual assault of women was disqualifying, and wanted her daughter to know “where I stood.” 

“That is more important to me than winning any election,” she said at the time.

Now, after Trump has been found liable for sexual abuse and indicted on an additional 91 criminal charges, Ayotte is reversing course again, endorsing Trump today.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley was unsparing in his appraisal of Ayotte’s decision to once again back the former president.

“With this endorsement of Trump, Ayotte has shown herself to have a void where any authenticity or credibility should exist. This humiliating political maneuver rightly gives Granite Staters reason to wonder if they could ever trust Ayotte to work in anyone’s interest but her own.”

“The answer to that, of course, is no,” said Buckley.

Blowback to her announcement was fierce and bipartisan, with her opponent Chuck Morse’s campaign manager Maya Harvey accusing the candidate of flip flopping. 

“Granite Staters are suddenly supposed to trust that you won’t turn your back on the same Republican nominee you publicly attacked and refused to vote for?” she said.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: DGA dating show spoof attacks Ayotte, Morse over anti-abortion records

Both leading Democratic candidates for Governor joined in, raking Ayotte over the coals for her willingness to completely reverse course on women’s issues she once said were at the core of her identity as a political leader.

“With her endorsement today, Kelly has made it clear she intends to vote for a twice impeached, criminally indicted, disgraced former President who bragged about assaulting women and supports a dangerous national abortion ban,” said Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington. “Kelly knew Trump was wrong in 2016 when she wrote in Mike Pence’s name, but now after four indictments, 91 criminal charges, three anti-abortion Supreme Court justices, and one violent attempt to overturn an election, she is all in for Donald Trump.”

“Kelly Ayotte didn’t have the spine to stand up to Donald Trump in 2016, going as far as to say a man who brags about sexually assaulting women is a good role model for our kids before weakly walking it all back,”said former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig. “Now Kelly Ayotte and Chuck Morse are giving Donald Trump exactly what he wants; two candidates who are falling in line behind his dangerous agenda that threatens New Hampshire families, reproductive freedom, and our democracy.

Many local and national groups joined in the chorus, hammering Ayotte for backtracking on her supposed values.

AmplifyNH, a leading New Hampshire political advocacy group, said Ayotte’s endorsement of the former president created a perpetual credibility gap between what she says and her actions.

“Kelly Ayotte will say anything, change any position, sell out anyone and then try to hide from any accountability at every opportunity – don’t take our word for it, take Kelly Ayotte’s,” said Amplify NH Executive Director Ryan Mahoney. “When Donald Trump says he will enact more abortion bans or overturn the election results, history has proven Kelly Ayotte will be ready to help him, no matter the consequences for Granite Staters.” 

Deputy Communications Director of the Democratic Governors Association Izzi Levy went into Ayotte’s record of supporting abortion bans at the federal level, an issue that has been salient in New Hampshire elections following Gov. Chris Sununu’s decision to sign an abortion ban in 2021.

“No matter how many times Ayotte changes her position on Trump, they share a common goal: to eliminate access to abortion in New Hampshire and beyond. She’s too extreme for New Hampshire, and Granite Staters won’t soon forget that Trump and Ayotte have worked hand-in-hand to dismantle reproductive rights and attack freedom.”

Monica Venzke, a spokesperson with American Bridge 21st Century, a national research and rapid response organization devoting significant resources to the New Hampshire governor’s race, said Ayotte’s endorsement signaled desperation to get the former president to return the favor.

“It’s clear that Kelly Ayotte knows that there is no longer a benefit in pretending that she isn’t just as extreme MAGA and far-right as Chuck Morse and Donald Trump. She’s coming back to Donald Trump, tail between her legs, hoping to get back into his good graces enough to secure an endorsement.”

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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