My guests today include New Hampshire’s Senator Kelly Ayotte, who is on the Veep short list and who was campaigning with Mit Romney today. We will talk about whether or not Romney would have authorized the raid on bin Laden’s compound which Team Obama wants to raise questions about.
I’ll also be joined by Tom Cotton , the extraordinary candidate for an open House seat in Arkansas which will go into the red column if Tom Cotton is the nominee. Cotton needs your help and you can give it here.
The transcript of the Ayotte interview will be here later, including her answer to the inevitable Veep question:
HH: What kind of campaign is ahead? Well, the Guardian reports today that Barack Obama’s making the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death a campaign issue, suggesting that his rival, Mitt Romney, lacks the guts to have ordered the raid that killed the al Qaeda leader. Joining me now to discuss this, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kelly Ayotte, Senator from New Hampshire. Senator, welcome back, good to have you.
KA: Hey, thanks, Hugh. Good to be with you.
HH: Tell me, what do you make of this attack that Governor Romney wouldn’t have had the guts to go after bin Laden.
KA: I think it’s ridiculous. And it’s very unfortunate that the President used what has been a unifying event as something now in a campaign ad, when you think about it. And I was with Governor Romney today, and you know, basically I would say that any president would have gone after Osama bin Laden, and given the facts, and given what he did to our country, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Mitt Romney would have went after him. And he’s very strong on foreign policy. I think the unfortunate thing is I think the President’s trying to distract us from the rest of his record, not only on the economy and the $5 trillion dollars of debt he’s added to us, but also thinking about his foreign policy, which in my view, he’s been very weak. It started with the apology tour around the world for America, which is not the approach that Governor Romney will take as president. [# More #]
HH: Senator, in the Obama ad, it closed with a question on the screen. The Guardian, again, this is what goes around the world, The Guardian quotes this question, which path would Mitt Romney have taken? Senator Ayotte, what do you think? Would Mitt Romney have in no doubt, any doubt in your mind that he would have made the same decision that President Obama made?
KA: No doubt, no doubt. Mitt Romney is ready to lead this country. He’s very strong on foreign policy. As you mentioned, I serve on the Senate Armed Services committee. This is an important issue to me and my family. My husband served in the military, and I know that Mitt Romney, if he were president, will be a very, very, would have been strong on Osama bin Laden and would have ordered the raid. But not only that, he will be a strong commander-in-chief. Let’s think about where we are with our Department of Defense right now. I mean, the President is, he’s done nothing in terms of showing leadership on draconian cuts that are coming in January, that his own secretary of Defense has said will undermine our national security for generations. And Mitt Romney’s not going to let that happen to our national security.
HH: Senator, today there were sort of dueling narratives. Over at the New York Times, they tell us peace is breaking out with Iran, not to worry. Over at the Wall Street Journal, Matt Bradley files a story, and I’ll be talking with Matt Bradley from Cairo later in the program, about the Islamist rise in Egypt, and the fact that the Egyptian military has basically thrown in the towel on another key point. So either the world is getting much more dangerous, or peace is breaking out. What do you think? What does Governor Romney think?
KA: The world is still a very, very dangerous place. And you don’t have to take my word or Mitt Romney’s word about it. I’ve asked our military leaders on the times they’ve been before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and they have told me time and time again that the risks have not diminished around the world. We have Iran still trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability, which will change the nature of the Middle East, we’ll have an arms race there, and obviously will be very dangerous to our own security, and that of our great ally, Israel. We also with the Arab Spring, there’s great uncertainty. And let’s not forget the massacre that’s occurring in Syria right now that the President has really been absent from when you think about it, and is really right now trying to defer to the U.N, and Assad continues to kill his people.
HH: Senator, you’re also on the Budget Committee and the Commerce Committee and the Small Business Committee. These are all committees concerned with the economy of the United States. The Fed came out, I talked about this in the first segment of the show, with revised estimates of growth next year and the year after, and it’s very bleak. It’s very bleak. We should be booming. We’re going backwards. Is that getting through to your colleagues on the other side of the aisle in the Senate?
KA: I think unfortunately, it’s not fully getting through. And like I told you, Hugh, I did an event with Mitt Romney today in New Hampshire. One of the things I’ve heard from my businesses in New Hampshire, or small businesses, and we’re seeing it across the country, is the people that this president has put in charge of the executive branch, they’re out of touch, and he’s given them the power to destroy jobs. Today, we were talking about in terms of regulations that are going to make fishermen in New Hampshire extinct. But think about what they tried to do the other day with family farms. They had to back off that, but the NLRB, we can go on and on about the regulations that are making our economy worse. And then also, we have the highest corporate tax rate in the word, so we’re not competitive. And this president wants to increase taxes on businesses. So I don’t think it’s getting through, and those growth numbers tell us that we’d better create a better climate, make us more competitive, and also, continue to get, we’ve got to get our fiscal house in order.
HH: After the break, I’m going to talk with Tom Cotton, a candidate down in Arkansas, a veteran of the 101st, Harvard lawyer, Harvard undergrad who left law school and went into the Army. And he was also a family farm kid, and he’s going to talk about those regulations you just referenced. But I don’t know about the fishing regulations you’re talking about, and I assume that those are vital to New Hampshire.
KA: Well, they are. I mean, we’ve got commercial fishermen, and some have, it’s a great family tradition. Some families have fished for generations, and regulations coming out of NOAA, I serve on the Commerce Committee, are basically going to put our fishermen out of business. And the administration’s attitude, of the people that they’ve put in charge, they don’t work with the industry. They don’t work, in this instance. The fishermen just want someone who is going to work with them, because they want to sustain our fishing stock. Instead, they just impose these, it’s called catch shares or quotas that are totally unrealistic, and are going to put them out of business.
HH: I’m talking with United States Senator Kelly Ayotte from the great state of New Hampshire. In terms of the impact of Obama, the president’s administration on New Hampshire, can New Hampshire get into the Republican column in the fall, Senator?
KA: Yes, I really believe. You know, our state, Hugh, is truly a swing state. The president was able to win New Hampshire by nine points in 2008. but I ran for the United States Senate in 2010, and I beat my Democratic opponent by 22 points. So our state is, they have 40%, the largest voting bloc, are independents, and that’s 40%, 30% to both parties. And I really think that Mitt Romney is going to win New Hampshire, because people are focused on the fiscal state of the country, the debt that this president has racked up. My constituents don’t like that. And also, getting our economy moving…and let’s not forget he governed in neighboring Massachusetts. People in New Hampshire know that that’s not easy to govern in Massachusetts, and he was able to do that successfully.
HH: I’m urging everyone to go over to Hughhewitt.com to the Act Right list and contribute to Mitt Romney, because small donors matter a lot, as I’m sure you’d be the first to attest to.
KA: They make a huge difference, small donors. I mean, just having that support behind you across the country is what we need to make sure that Mitt Romney’s our next president, because we can’t take four more years of this president, with what will happen to our economy. And then let’s just think about the debt. We’ve already added $5 trillion dollars to the debt since he’s been in office, and we’ve got $15 trillion dollars more, and he wants to spend more, Hugh.
HH: Let me ask you, Senator, before we lose you, and I hope people go the Act Right list at Hughhewitt.com and contribute, the ABC is reporting this is your tryout for the vice presidency today. Does it feel like an audition?
KA: No. (laughing) I campaigned with Mitt many times when he was running in the primaries, so I’ve gotten to know him, have great respect for him. I know he will pick who he feels is the best person to serve. My only focus right now is two things. Serving the people of New Hampshire in the Senate, and making sure that we get Mitt Romney elected president so he can turn this country around.
HH: If he asks, would you say yes?
KA: (laughing) Well, you know, I don’t think that’s going to happen, Hugh, so I’m not worried about that. I’m really just focusing on serving in the Senate.
HH: Senator Kelly Ayotte, always a pleasure, thank you, Senator.
End of interview.