Vulnerable Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said Donald Trump was “absolutely” a role model for children during a Monday debate before promptly retracting her comment.
“I misspoke tonight,” Ayotte said in a statement sent out shortly after the debate at New England College wrapped. “While I would hope all of our children would aspire to be president, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have set a good example and I wouldn’t hold up either of the, as a role models for my kids.”
The statement represented a complete 180 from Ayotte’s initial comments during Monday’s face-off against two-term Gov. Maggie Hassan.
A panelist asked Ayotte if she would point to Trump as a “role model” for children.
Ayotte first avoided the question, saying all children should aspire to serve in the White House.
Pressed to answer specifically if she would tell kids to behave like this Republican nominee, Ayotte fumbled.
“I think that certainly there are many role models that we have and, um, I believe that he can serve as president and so absolutely I can do that,” she said, as Hassan looked on incredulously.
The Democratic governor has tried to pin her Republican opponent over her stance on Trump throughout the close race.
Ayotte has maintained she would support Trump as her party’s nominee, but vocally criticized him over his attacks on the “Mexican” heritage of an Indiana-born federal judge and against a Gold Star family. She has insisted there is a significant difference between voting for and endorsing the real estate mogul.
Ayotte and Hassan are currently neck-and-neck in the polls. According to TPM’s PollTracker Average, the Granite State senator currently holds a slight lead of 48.3 percent to Hassan’s 46.9 percent.