Senate races

Ayotte stumbles when asked if Trump is role model for children

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said she would “absolutely” point to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as a role model for children but still declined to endorse him for president in an awkward answer to a debate question Monday night.

{mosads}During the second debate of 2016 in the critical New Hampshire Senate race, Ayotte, who faces a tough challenge from New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), was asked whether she sees Trump as a role model.

“Well, I think that certainly there are many role models that we have, and I believe he can serve as president, and so absolutely I would do that,” Ayotte said.

When asked why she still won’t endorse Trump outright, she reiterated that she differs with him on certain issues and then pivoted to hit Hassan for the governor’s support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Because I’ve had some disagreements with him, and I’ve been quite clear about those disagreements,” Ayotte said.

“And this is an area where Gov. 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?” 

Following the debate, Ayotte walked back her comment in a statement sent by the campaign, saying she “misspoke.” She said neither Trump nor Clinton are good role models for her own children. 

“I misspoke tonight. 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,” Ayotte said.

Ayotte, who is running for reelection in a state carried by President Obama in 2008 and 2012, has walked a fine line in her support of Trump.

She has repeatedly said she supports, but doesn’t endorse, the real estate mogul.

Ayotte and Hassan are in a tight battle in the Granite State, with recent polls showing the GOP senator with a slight edge within the margin of error. The race is likely to be pivotal in determining which party controls the Senate next year.

— Updated 10:54 p.m. 

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Kelly Ayotte

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