The Republican presidential race is heating up over two years before the election. One name is being raised over and over by all sides of the party: Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.
The usual names that have been trotted out include Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana and many more.
But the conservative chatter is Kelly Ayotte.
Influenential Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol gives his glowing endorsement, “Her prospects are good. Why not Pence-Ayotte or Walker-Ayotte?. Defense and foreign policy will be a big issue, and she's a leader on that. And since she’s already on the vice presidential short list, she might want to look at running for the top job.”
A stunning endorsement from one of Washington’s biggest power brokers.
Steve Schmitt, Sen. John McCain’s campaign manager in his 2008 presidential bid said, “Compared to some of the other prospective candidates, Ayotte’s resume stacks up. Ayotte, who is also up for reelection in 2016, came into the senate at the same time as Paul and Rubio and has two years more experience as a legislator than Cruz. Other GOP senators vying for national office all have huge flaws whereas Ayotte does not."
He added, “There are fundamental questions around their electability and around Paul’s ability on some issues to navigate himself toward the majority opinion of the GOP. Cruz is toxic and has no chance of national electability. Rubio damaged himself during the immigration debate,” he said. “The reality for Republicans is that it couldn’t possibly be more open.”
Moreover, Ayotte could be the instrumental addition to a Republican ticket to counteract Hillary Clinton’s “first woman” rhetoric. The New Hampshire senator is free of scandal that has left the party vulnerable to the accusation that they are not savvy at courting the women’s vote.
Schmitt agrees with Kristol that “The best way in a year when the field is as open as it is, the best way to be picked as vice president it to mount a presidential campaign. Show you can navigate that, sharpen your skills, and see how far you can go in that process. Kelly Ayotte has every potential to be able to do those things, but as of yet she has not yet been tested on the national stage.”
The big money on the left understands her potential. In fact, Mitt Romney’s campaign considered Ayotte for the ticket before choosing Rep. Paul Ryan. The thinking was Ryan would be a better geographical balance in Wisconsin, rather than New Hampshire.
Kristol noted, “One of the things that will happen next year, you might get a bit of a generational change, that’s when you have Rubio, Ayotte, Arkansas Senate candidate Tom Cotton, and Alaska Senate candidate Dan Sullivan emerging”
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