CONCORD, N.H. — Was it only a matter of time before Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s recent comments about Donald Trump became fodder for television ads? Absolutely.
Ayotte, a Republican seeking a second term in New Hampshire, said during a debate Monday that she “absolutely” would tell a child to aspire to be like Trump, though she later said she misspoke. Her Democratic rival, Gov. Maggie Hassan, pounced with an online ad the next day, and on Thursday, released a television version juxtaposing footage of Ayotte’s remarks with demeaning comments Trump has made about women and people with disabilities.
Ayotte, meanwhile, released her own ad Wednesday alluding to the dustup and highlighting her bipartisan work in Washington.
“Let’s be honest, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are far from perfect, and I’m not perfect either,” she says. “I’ve been called a problem solver by independent groups, and ranked as one of the most bipartisan senators … because whether I’m working with Republicans, Democrats, or independents, I’m standing up for New Hampshire.”
Hassan’s ad will begin airing in New Hampshire on Friday. Ayotte’s ad began running Thursday in New Hampshire and on Boston cable stations as part of the campaign’s fall ad buy, which includes $7 million on television ads and $2 million on digital advertising.
Ayotte has said she will vote for Trump, but doesn’t endorse him. Hassan’s spokesman, Aaron Jacobs, called Ayotte’s ad a “panicked, clumsy attempt to distract Granite Staters from her revealing moment of political calculation.”
With the GOP’s 54-46 Senate control at stake in November, Ayotte is among a half dozen Republicans in competitive campaigns or running in swing states that will help determine whether Trump or Hillary Clinton take the White House.