Kelly Ayotte’s bad week just got a whole lot worse.
Ayotte, the Republican U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, made national headlines Monday when she said during a debate on necn that she believed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was “absolutely” a role model for children. She promptly walked back the statement, issuing a release hours after the debate ended saying that she “misspoke.”
Ayotte’s opponent in the hotly-contested Senate race – Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan – seized on the comment, putting out a new TV ad showing Ayotte’s “absolutely” statement followed by clips of Trump insulting people.
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Now, as news breaks about a 2005 conversation Trump had in which he made numerous misogynistic comments about women, Ayotte is facing another round of criticism.
Hassan and other New Hampshire Democrats are now calling on Ayotte to not only distance herself from Trump, but to say she won't vote for him, as some other Republicans have already done.
Ayotte said Friday that Trump’s comments are “totally inappropriate and offensive.” A New York Times story says she is facing “immense pressure” from other Republicans to disavow Trump and is said to be considering it.
But Hassan, who called Trump’s comments “vile” and “beyond comprehension,” said denouncing Trump now would be too little, too late.
“Kelly Ayotte has failed the test of leadership, character and judgment by passing up chance after chance to disavow Trump,” her campaign said in a statement. “What Ayotte doesn’t understand is that she’s long since missed her opportunity to show courage, and that any decision now will be seen for exactly what it is: a craven political calculation to try to save her seat.”
Ayotte attended a high school football game in southern New Hampshire on Friday night, but it wasn’t immediately known if she had any other public appearances this weekend.
Some New Hampshire Republicans are already joining national GOP figures like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney in condemning Trump’s remarks.
“Vile and vulgar comments against women should never be tolerated,” the New Hampshire College Republicans said on Twitter.
“Nor do they reflect the values of the NHGOP,” added Jennifer Horn, president of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee.
Joseph Sweeney, a Republican state representative and chairman of the New Hampshire Young Republicans, said this latest revelation about Trump has pushed him over the edge.
“I never thought I would be in a position where I cannot support my party’s nominee, but here we are. Welcome to 2016.”
He said he tried to move on from the issues he had with Trump, and even said recently that he was excited to support the Republican nominee in November. But all that has changed now.
“The comments made 11 years ago are disgusting, misguided, and too misogynistic for a late Friday night apology and pivot to patch everything up…,” he said on Facebook. “I look forward to supporting the other 400+ New Hampshire Republicans carrying our party’s banner going into November 8th, but I am not able to support our misguided and misogynistic Presidential nominee.”
Other New Hampshire Republicans, though, are still standing with Trump.
Al Baldasaro, a fervent Trump supporter who has traveled to many states to attend the candidate’s events, acknowledged in a tweet Saturday morning that Trump “isn’t perfect,” but said the candidate apologized for his locker room talk.
“We are not looking for a Pope to be president,” he said. “Just look at (Bill) Clinton.”