Kelly Ayotte has been trying to have it both ways for months now, saying she'll vote for Trump but won't endorse him. This sort of mealy-mouthed non-endorsement of the Republican nominee has done her no favors though, and as Trump's popularity in the state declines so has her chances of remaining in the U.S. Senate. A recent poll had Trump down 15 to Hillary Clinton, in what's reputed to be a swing state.
Ayotte says there's a difference between voting for someone and endorsing them.
"There's actually a big distinction: Everyone gets a vote, I do too," Ayotte said. "And an endorsement is when you are campaigning with someone."
Ayotte said the situation differs from 2012 when she was barnstorming the state with Mitt Romney -- something she won't do for Trump when he comes to the Granite State.
"While he has my vote he doesn't have my endorsement," Ayotte said of Trump. "I'm going to continue to focus on my race and getting out to people what I have done and getting results for people in New Hampshire."
Hassan, sensing an opening, fired back.
"I think people should hear that statement for what it is: She is trying have it both ways," Hassan said. "What you see the senator doing is saying she will put her party before the national security and safety of our country. I think that is inexcusable."
Nate Silver's 538 website noted this phenomenon today, that Trump has pulled Republican senate candidates down an average of 4% in recent weeks as his own polls decline.
Among the eight states, the most precipitous drop for both Trump and the GOP Senate candidate happened in New Hampshire, where Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte had led in most polls before the conventions. Since then, she has trailed in all four polls of the state that have been released. MassINC pollster Steve Koczela, who conducted one of the surveys in the New Hampshire average, had told me that Ayotte’s troubles are at least partially because of “how closely tied the Ayotte and Trump vote are” and that he saw that “as evidence that Trump is hurting her.”
If she loses in November, which seems likely at this point, Ayotte might wish she hadn't played so cute with her support for Donald Trump, and instead regret that she hadn't forcefully denounced Trump, as another north eastern Republican Susan Colllins has done, called Trump "dangerous" in a scathing op-ed recently. And no, Collins won't be voting for Trump either. Apparently she's smarter than Kelly Ayotte.