New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte is in the midst of a tough re-election fight. She faces Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan in one of the handful of remaining states that will ultimately decide which party controls the majority in 2017.
On Monday, Ayotte made a high-profile verbal gaffe — which her campaign later clarified — about whether or not Donald Trump should be considered a “role model.” As the New York Times reports:
Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire wanted to be clear late Monday: There are no role models in this year’s presidential race.
Earlier in the evening, Ms. Ayotte — a freshman Republican in a tight re-election race — seemed less sure on that point.
“I think that certainly there are many role models that we have, and I believe he can serve as president,” she said of Donald J. Trump during a debate with her Democratic challenger, Gov. Maggie Hassan.
That led to jeers on social media, and a bit of confusion — Ms. Ayotte has yet to officially endorse Mr. Trump, although she has said she would vote for him.
“I misspoke tonight,” Ms. Ayotte said in a statements several hours later. “While I would hope all of our children would aspire to be president, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have set a good example, and I wouldn’t hold up either of them as role models for my kids.”
Her attempt to walk back her debate comments did not quiet her Twitter critics.
“Trump just spent a week fat-shaming a woman and bragging about not paying taxes,” one wrote. “Kelly Ayotte calls him a role model.”
Obviously this is not good for Ayotte, but it’s possible that these comments could ricochet and catch other Republicans in the political crossfire. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) jumped quickly on the topic with a press release this morning targeting Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).
Does Mike Coffman agree that his standard-bearer – who spent the last week fat-shaming a Latina, discrediting the strength of veterans with PTSD, and late-night maniacal tweeting – should be a role model for our children?
“To be honest, we ruled out asking Congressman Coffman if Donald Trump is a role model for our children because the answer seemed too obvious. But, Kelly Ayotte has proven that there is no question too simple for Mike Coffman who is desperately trying to walk the line between Donald Trump supporters and the voters who are repelled by him.
“In upcoming debates, Coffman must answer the ‘Ayotte Question,’ which will be just one test of his judgement – or lack thereof,” said Tyler Law of the DCCC.
Coffman and Democrat Morgan Carroll face off in their first debate today (hosted by Univision, though it won’t air publicly until Saturday), and these are exactly the sort of questions that Coffman would really rather not discuss — unless you’re willing to listen to his weak song-and-dance about how he doesn’t love Trump but won’t say he isn’t supporting Trump…and nevermind about his spokesperson saying he would support the Republican nominee for President.
Unfortunately for Coffman, his past statements about the Presidential race are quite similar to the words that got Ayotte in trouble in the first place.
Here’s Ayotte from Monday:
“I’ve had some disagreements with him and I’ve been quite clear about those disagreements. This is an area where Governor Hassan has been lockstep with Secretary Clinton. I haven’t heard major disagreements that she’s had with Secretary Clinton, so who’s going to stand up on behalf of the people of New Hampshire?”
Now, here’s Coffman from earlier this year:
“I’ve made it clear where I disagree with Donald Trump. State Senator Morgan Carroll in in such lock step (sic) with Hillary Clinton that you’d think they were running mates.”
Talking about Trump in anything other than negative terms will not play well to Univision’s primarily-Hispanic audience in today’s debate. But Coffman remains reluctant to go full dismissal on the GOP nominee, so he’s in quite the quagmire.