U..S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, on Saturday said she no longer supports Republican Donald Trump and instead will write in vice president nominee Mike Pence as her choice for president.
She issued a statement disavowing Trump after Friday’s revelation of a 2005 audio in which he makes lewd and vulgar comments about women.
Her statement said in full:
"I wanted to be able to support my party’s nominee, chosen by the people, because I feel strongly that we need a change in direction for our country. However, I’m a mom and an American first, and I cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women. I will not be voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and instead will be writing in Governor Pence for president on Election Day."
Her Democratic opponent in the race for the U.S. Senate, Gov. Maggie Hassan, in a subsequent statement said Ayotte’s decision not to vote for Trump was a political calculation.
Hassan’s statement said in full:
“Kelly Ayotte today simply reinforced that everything she does is based on cold, political calculations about what is in her personal best interest. After spending 24 hours running the political math, Ayotte has made a decision that is a transparent, craven attempt at political self-preservation. For months, Kelly Ayotte stood by Trump as he demeaned women, minorities, people with disabilities, Gold Star families, and was deemed a danger to our national security, even going so far as saying he should 'absolutely' be a role model for children. What Kelly Ayotte doesn’t seem to understand is the chance to show courage has long past, and her hollow words today reveal as much about her own character as they do Donald Trump's. Her words are far too little and far too late.”
More and more Republican politicians are retreating from Trump and voicing support for Pence, who is the governor of Indiana, in the wake of the release of the audio -- an open mic recording of a conversation between Trump and Access Hollywood host Billy Bush during a visit to the set of a soap opera in 2005.
With Trump’s emergence as the Republican nominee for president, Ayotte refused to endorse Trump, but said she intended to vote for him.
During a debate with Hassan earlier this week before Friday’s revelations, said she “absolutely” regarded Trump as a role model, despite some well-documented behavior by Trump of demeaning women and minorities. She later backtracked, saying she found neither Trump nor Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as satisfactory role models.