By D. Allan Kerr
I have to admit I was frustrated with U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte this campaign season.
For months the New Hampshire Republican attempted this awkward little balancing act of wanting to remain loyal to her party while condemning the more idiotic or hateful stands of the GOP’s presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump. She would vote for him over Hillary Clinton, she said, but she would not endorse him.
This culminated not so long ago in the utter embarrassment of Ayotte having to say she “misspoke” when she said she considered her party’s candidate a role model for her children.
I mean, I get it – Ayotte’s in a tight spot. In her bid for re-election she’s being challenged by Maggie Hassan, a popular two-term governor of New Hampshire, and the race is about as close as you can get. No doubt she feels she needs the vote of every Republican she can bring to the polls, but she also needs the vote of folks turned off by the idiocy of Trump.
So she tried to have it both ways, sometimes twisting herself into a political pretzel. But finally, she just couldn’t stomach it anymore. With the release of Trump’s “hot mic” 2005 Access Hollywood appearance, Ayotte finally declared she could not bring herself to vote for this man for President of the United States.
And in doing so, she showed the iron backbone I’ve been waiting to see from her.
She said she made her decision as “a mom and an American first,” but she is much more than that. She is also the former attorney general of New Hampshire, the first woman in the state’s history to hold that post.
So when that video was released to the public, Kelly Ayotte heard her party’s nominee brag about committing sexual assault and getting away with it because he was such a big celebrity. As a woman, as a mother to a 12-year-old daughter, as a U.S. senator and previously the top law enforcement official in her home state, how could Ayotte NOT withdraw her support?
Trump apparently claimed during last Sunday’s debate that he never actually grabbed women by the crotch the way he claimed on tape – I can’t be sure because his rants sometimes meander way off target before they circle back to the merely nonsensical. Which means, at best, in 2005 the 59-year-old Trump lied about grabbing women by the crotch so TV host Billy Bush would think he was cool (see last weekend’s dead-on SNL skit on the subject.)
At any rate, Ayotte’s decision was validated the following night at this same debate, when Trump seemed less a presidential candidate than some drunk uncle who had wandered onto the stage to embarrass the family yet again.
(And memo to TV news folks – can someone get to the bottom of Donald’s damn sniffling? Or at least hand him a tissue?)
The odds are pretty good that Trump will now try to target Ayotte for calling him out. He already claimed earlier this year – after she failed to prove herself a Chris Christie-type water carrier – that she was “weak” and not a “fighter.”
I will guarantee – GUARANTEE – Trump knew even less about Ayotte than he does about most things when he made those comments. But here’s one thing I know – New Hampshire voters don’t need a slimy artful-draft-dodging New York City used car salesman to tell them about strong fighters.
I first became aware of Ayotte as a newspaper reporter covering a murder trial in 1999, in which she successfully prosecuted a conviction of Ed Pehowic in what I believe might have been her first murder case. She was an assistant attorney general at the time.
Trump was running the Miss Universe pageant.
Ayotte later prosecuted the teenagers charged in the horrific 2001 high-profile slayings of Dartmouth College professors Half and Susanne Zantop, as well as the 2006 capital murder of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs. She served as chief of the state’s homicide unit before becoming Attorney General in 2004.
That’s right about the time Trump was starting his very important TV show, “The Apprentice.”
Ayotte now sits on the Senate’s powerful Armed Services Committee and chairs its subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. She’s been a tenacious defender of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Former presidential contender John Kasich learned this last year after he told reporters outside the shipyard gate that the Base Realignment and Closure process keeps workers “on their toes.”
“Any suggestion that a BRAC round is needed to improve performance or efficiency at the shipyard suggests a lack of understanding regarding the character, quality, and performance of the workers there,” Ayotte responded in an open letter to all presidential candidates visiting the state.
She’s also called out Trump on previous occasions, most notably when the Artful Draft Dodger attacked an American Gold Star Muslim family. As the wife of a former combat pilot in the Iraq War, she has a little insight to those issues.
Just this past Sunday she said taking a stand on Trump’s words and actions is “more important than winning any election.” If that’s not being a fighter I don’t know what is.
Make no mistake – what Ayotte’s doing right now takes a lot of guts. If you prefer Hassan’s politics and character, then by all means vote for Hassan. But don’t base your decision on whether or not Ayotte should sit in someone else’s pocket.
As for Trump, as much as he deplores political correctness he also benefits from it, because when people say he “lacks the temperament” to be Commander-In-Chief, that’s a politically correct way of saying he’s “batshit crazy.”
I mean, you can’t spend your adult life refusing to pay workers for jobs they’ve completed for you, and then claim to be a champion of the working class.
You can’t devote so much energy dodging the draft during your youth and then belittle heroes taken as prisoners of war while they were actually fighting for their country.
You can’t hold everyone who earns less money than you in utter contempt for the first 68 years of your life, and then tell them you are their voice when you want their vote.
You can’t call a 19-year-old girl “Miss Piggy” because you don’t think she’s skinny enough and “Miss Housekeeping” because she’s Latina, and then say no one respects women more than you.
You can’t pretend to be a Christian for political convenience and then behave in the most un-Christlike manner of any candidate in recent memory.
You can’t file bankruptcy four times (FOUR!), lose a billion dollars in one year (that we know of), start a bogus university teaching techniques about the real estate business right before the market collapses, and then try to tell people you’re a financial genius.
You can’t twist the truth on a daily basis to fit your own bizarre reality and then whine when people call out your lies.
You can’t insult your own supporters by claiming they are such mindless idiots they would vote for you even if you shot someone in broad daylight in the middle of Times Square.
And you can’t act like a douchebag to any person who doesn’t lick your boots and expect them to elect you President of the United States in 2016.
All of that explains why Donald Trump lost Kelly Ayotte’s vote, and a lot of other votes, come this November. It’s no one’s fault but his own.
(October 11, 2016)