NH Now: Ayotte Files and Focuses on Foreign Policy as Race Against Hassan Intensifies

Ayotte Files and Focuses on Foreign Policy as Race Against Hassan Intensifies
By Chris Ryan

Concord, NH- A lot has changed for Kelly Ayotte in the last six years.

When she stepped into Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s office in June of 2010 she was filing to put her name on the ballot for the first time. The crowd was much smaller and opposition forces weren’t there to taunt her at every move.

It signals how her stock has risen from Former State Attorney General to a US Senator that the Sunday morning talk shows are looking to book when they need someone to talk foreign policy and national security.

“I thought to myself, the crowd is a little bit bigger than the first time I filed,” said Ayotte on WKXL Thursday.

Ayotte has a target on her back this election and there’s quite a crowd building to try to stop her from regaining her U.S. Senate seat.

Democratic forces view her as vulnerable and plan to allocate millions of dollars to encourage Granite Staters to think about dismissing their freshman Senator. Her most significant opponent is popular Governor Maggie Hassan. But, Ayotte is also facing challenges from inside her own fractured party. Former State Senator Jim Rubens decided to primary her and libertarian activist Aaron Day has decided to mount an independent campaign. Both candidacies will likely amount to a blip on the radar. But, they’re not particularly helpful to the incumbent.

Rubens has been going around to GOP gatherings and doing interviews bashing Ayotte’s character and stances on things such as immigration reform and foreign policy, and Day could potentially cut into tea party support in the general election. A Presidential year election in which Democratic turnout is likely to be higher than GOP turnout if ’08 and ’12 serve as indicators.

Ayotte says that she’s not worried about the external dynamics that may pre-determine her fate. She’s going to focus on her record and she clearly sees foreign policy as a strength often highlighting her seats on the Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees.

“The fundamental purpose of our government is to keep us safe and secure,” said Ayotte. “If we don’t really focus on our intelligence we know too well that these attacks can come here.”

Ayotte told me that ISIS attacking the U.S. is, “Something that I worry about everyday.”

But, is that what NH voters are worried about everyday?

I think it’s certainly on folks minds, but economic conditions and wage stagnation is at the forefront of their thought process.

The US Senate race will be tame as compared to the Presidential race, but by NH standards this race will be ugly. Far more contentious than Shaheen-Brown in ’14.

However, whichever candidate is able to articulate the best vision for our future, has real ideas to address our problems and is relatable to the average voter will win out.