NH Senate: Democrat Maggie Hassan hits Kelly Ayotte over Trump 'role model' gaffe


Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte stumbled badly in the New Hampshire Senate debate, claiming Donald Trump is a role model for children. Her Democratic opponent was quick to respond.

Kelly Ayotte is a "vote for Trump but won't endorse" Republican candidate. As Trump alienates more voters, her position becomes increasingly untenable.

This became painfully clear during Monday's debate with Democrat Maggie Hassan:

PANELIST: The president of the United States is an aspirational figure, one who is our role model, and an individual who stands for ideals on a world stage. Would you tell a child to aspire to be like Donald Trump?

AYOTTE: I would tell a child to absolutely aspire certainly to be their best and to be president and to seek to run for the presidency, absolutely.

PANELIST: But would you, again, to the question, would you tell them to be like Donald Trump? Would you point to him as a role model?

AYOTTE: I think that certainly, there are many role models that we have and I believe that he can serve as president, and so absolutely, I would do that.

The moderator then asked if Trump was a role model for children, "why won't you endorse him?"

Her response:

Because I’ve had some disagreements with him, and I’ve been quite clear about those disagreements, and this is an area where Governor Hassan has been lockstep with Hillary Clinton. Um, I haven’t heard major disagreements that she’s had with Sec. Clinton so who’s going to stand up on behalf of the people of New Hampshire?

Reaction was swift:

Ayotte's campaign then issued a "clarifying" statement:

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.

But it may be too late. Democrat Maggie Hassan's campaign quickly released this ad:

Ayotte has drawn national attention for this major gaffe, which is unusual considering the near-complete focus on the presidential candidates. A huge stumble.