Can one comment cost the GOP the Senate majority?
The GOP has recently gained momentum in its race to keep the majority in the Senate, but a slip of the tongue from incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) could bring everything down.
During her debate with her opponent Gov. Maggie Hassan, Ayotte told the moderator she considers GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump a role model:
“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,” she said awkwardly.
Democrats wasted no time jumping on her comments and using it to their advantage. It may just work
The Hill reported:
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a digital ad Tuesday that simply contains unedited footage of the moment, while liberal star Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) issued a stream of tweets ripping Ayotte.
“Think about it: @realDonaldTrump calls Latinos rapists, African Americans thugs, & women fat pigs, & Kelly Ayotte thinks he’s a role model,” Warren wrote in one of the tweets.
“You can’t walk this back. … [You] can’t support @realDonaldTrump’s agenda, say you’re voting for him, then pretend to shake your finger,” she added in another message.
Hassan scheduled a press call on Tuesday about the comment. She then released a web ad “featuring Ayotte’s response and juxtaposing it with Trump comments imitating a handicapped reporter, referring to a woman’s ‘fat, ugly face’ and describing Fox News’ Megyn Kelly as having ‘blood coming out of her wherever.'”
Ayotte attempted to walk back her answer:
“I misspoke tonight,” Ms. Ayotte said in a statement several hours later. “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.”
Pollster’s analyzed Ayotte’s comments, but said her debate answer and the retreat damaged her chances:
“I assume this question we’re going to hear a lot more of in Senate debates, and Kelly Ayotte created the textbook on how not to answer,” said Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin.
Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said it was “the unqualified nature of it and her tone” that made Ayotte’s comment truly damaging. “It’s like, ‘What are you talking about, sister?'” she said.
Of course the media jumped on the other GOP senate candidates fighting for their political life:
“The simple answer is no” and neither is Clinton, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who’s not endorsed Trump, told reporters in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “Let’s just say the vulgarity and gratuitous insults of people. This is not exactly the way I encourage my kids to behave.”
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., also facing re-election, stopped short of labeling Trump a role model. Blunt “believes Missourians should choose their own role models,” said campaign spokesman Burson Snyder.
And Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said, “I, like many Americans, take issue with some of the rhetoric and actions that have come from both him and Hillary Clinton, and neither are people I’d hold up as exemplary role models.”
GOP strategist told RealClearPolitics that these senate candidates must distance themselves as far away from Trump as they can. This is why only a week ago the GOP gained more confidence that it could maintain its majority since Republicans noticed that voters have separated the Senate candidates from Trump. All the optimism led the Senate Leadership Fund to move more money into these senate campaigns, including Ayotte.
That was last week. New polls show:
In Pennsylvania, a poll released Tuesday from Monmouth University found GOP Sen. Pat Toomey and Democrat Katie McGinty tied at 46 percent despite a 10-point lead in the state for Clinton over Trump.
A separate poll released Tuesday by Franklin & Marshall showed Toomey trailing McGinty by 6 points and Trump trailing Clinton by 9 points.
In North Carolina, GOP Sen. Richard Burr has not managed to pull ahead of former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D), frustrating Republicans in Washington who wonder if he’s working as hard as he can.
An Elon University poll published Tuesday showed Clinton opening up a 6-point lead over Trump in North Carolina after a survey from two weeks ago showed them in a dead heat. Tuesday’s poll also showed Burr and Ross tied at 43 percent.
The Democrats only need to gain five seats in the Senate to regain majority, four if Hillary wins.DONATE
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