N.H. Sen. Ayotte Drops Trump Support After Tape Of Him Speaking Crudely About Women Surfaces

In this file photo, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte appears at an event in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Jim Cole/AP)
In this file photo, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte appears at an event in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Jim Cole/AP)

Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire, has walked back her support for her party's presidential candidate after a recording surfaced of Donald Trump bragging about groping women.

In the 2005 recording, released Friday evening, the GOP presidential nominee uses crude language to talk about how he makes moves on women. At one point on the tape, he says "I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything." After denouncement from Republican leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Trump released a short video statement Friday night apologizing, saying "anyone who knows me, knows these words don't reflect who I am."

Ayotte, who is in a closely watched Senate race against New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, had tried to walk the line of supporting Trump without officially endorsing him.

After the tape was released Friday night, Hassan again called out Ayotte for not denouncing Trump.

"These vile comments from Donald Trump cannot be excused. It is beyond comprehension how Senator Ayotte could continue to support this man for the highest office in the land, let alone call him a role model," Hassan said in a statement.

On Saturday morning, Ayotte released a statement saying she would instead be writing in Mike Pence, the GOP's vice presidential candidate, for president.

In WBUR's latest poll, released on Sept. 30, Hassan narrowly lead incumbent Ayotte. About 48 percent of likely voters supported Hassan while 46 percent supported Ayotte. That poll also showed Hassan's favorable/unfavorable numbers (49 percent/38 percent) were better than Ayotte's (45 percent/43 percent).

Republican Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, denounced Trump on Twitter, saying his words "corrupt America's face to the world."

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren expressed her outrage over the recorded comments, asking Trump, "Were you lying or was sexual assault part of your action every day?" She also took the opportunity to call on Republicans in Congress to stop endorsing the candidate.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat, expressed concern that people were supporting Trump in light of the content on the tape.


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Amy Gorel Senior Editor
Amy Gorel is a senior editor of digital news at WBUR.



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