Ayotte: Trump comments 'inappropriate and offensive'
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Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyottePoll: New Hampshire Senate race tight Biden likely to tap Robert Califf to return as FDA head Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  MORE (R-N.H.) quickly lambasted lewd comments Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE made about women in 2005, but didn't indicate that she will drop her support for the GOP presidential nominee. 

"His comments are totally inappropriate and offensive," Ayotte said in a statement.
The Washington Post published audio of the businessman making explicit comments about trying to have sex with women, which were caught on a hot mic in 2005. Trump issued a half-apology, saying the comments were private "locker-room banter" and "I apologize if anyone was offended." 
Ayotte has said repeatedly that while she is supporting Trump, she will not endorse him and will call him out when they disagree. 
But the latest Trump controversy comes after Ayotte stumbled this week after trying to walk a political tightrope for months on her support for the GOP nominee. 
After saying she would "absolutely" call Trump a role model during a debate against Gov. Maggie Hassan, her Democratic opponent, she backtracked saying that she "misspoke" and believes neither Trump nor Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonI voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 Neera Tanden tapped as White House staff secretary Meghan McCain: 'SNL' parodies made me feel like 'laughing stock of the country' MORE are role models. 
Former GOP candidate Jeb Bush, who has refused to support the nominee, also weighed in on Twitter, writing: "As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump's reprehensible comments degrading women."
Democrats were quick to seize on Trump's comments Friday. Hassan knocked Ayotte questioning why she would continue to support her party's nominee. 
“These vile comments from Donald Trump cannot be excused. It is beyond comprehension how Senator Ayotte could continue to support this man for the highest office in the land, let alone call him a role model," she said in a statement. 

Meira Bernstein, a spokeswoman for Hassan, said Ayotte's statement coupled with her continued support for Trump is "pathetic and wrong." 


“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," she said. 

GOP incumbents have tried to walk a fine line on Trump as they defend 24 Senate seats: keeping distance from his streak of controversies while also refusing to cut ties completely and risk alienating a conservative base that they'll need to win reelection. 

Ayotte and Hassan are in a tight battle in the Granite State. The GOP incumbent is leading Hassan by less than 3 percentage points, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polling in the race.

- This story was updated at 7:22 p.m.