Trump Casts a Large Shadow in New Hampshire GOP Primary for Governor

Trump Casts a Large Shadow in New Hampshire GOP Primary for Governor
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference held at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 8, 2024. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Gomez

Former President Donald Trump’s coveted endorsement could make the difference in the New Hampshire Republican primary for governor as the two candidates in the race trade blows in what has become a tense competition—with one declining to say whom they voted for in the presidential primary.

Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and state Sen. Chuck Morse (R-N.H.) are in the running to replace Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

Mr. Morse is an avid Trump supporter who endorsed the former president when he launched his first presidential campaign in 2016, but Ms. Ayotte was hesitant to do so and retracted her endorsement after the leak of an Access Hollywood tape of President Trump, then a candidate, making sexual comments about women.

“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,” Ms. Ayotte said in a statement at the time. “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.”

She went on to write in the name of former Vice President Mike Pence in 2016.

However, the former senator seems to have changed her stance and said recently she would support President Trump if he was the nominee.

“I think Joe Biden has been a disaster and I’ll support our Republican nominee for president,” she told WMUR.

Ayotte’s Background

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, Ms. Ayotte lost her reelection bid in 2016 to Democrat Maggie Hassan. Since then she has turned her focus to becoming governor of the Granite State, launching a gubernatorial bid in July 2023.

President Trump’s supporters have not forgotten the former senator’s retraction of her 2016 endorsement, and political operatives believe it will hurt her in the race for the governor’s mansion, regardless of her recent gesture.

“Kelly Ayotte spent the entire year of 2016 yo-yoing between criticizing and embracing Donald Trump. Now she’s running the same failed playbook in 2024, refusing to even say who she voted for in the primary,” political strategist Jared Leopold told The Epoch Times. “Waffling on Trump makes Ayotte look like the career politician that she is, and it opens up a major line of attack in the increasingly nasty Republican gubernatorial primary.”

Her opponent pressed Ms. Ayotte to disclose whom she voted for in the 2024 presidential primary.

“I certainly believe that the voters are asking where [Ms. Ayotte] stands and I’ve made it pretty clear where I stand, I am proud to support the president,” Mr. Morse told The Epoch Times.

Ms. Ayotte has not publicly announced whom she voted for in the presidential primary.

“I think what the president did in 2016 is that he appealed to the working person in New Hampshire and they got pretty attracted to him because he was basically saying he was going to do something—he wasn’t going to go down the mainstream lane of politics and he actually proved to do that,” Mr. Morse said.

Mr. Morse said he has appeared with President Trump at several rallies in New Hampshire but he hasn’t asked for his endorsement yet.

“I certainly don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want the president’s endorsement,” he said.

Controversial Support for COVID Vaccine

Another problem spot for Ms. Ayotte among Trump supporters may be her support for COVID vaccines.
“I am pro-vaccine and I think we as a state did a great job,” Ms. Ayotte said at a Republican rally in New Hampshire in 2021, Foster’s Daily Democrat reported.

Ms. Ayotte also co-chaired the CSIS Global Health Policy Center’s Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security—an organization funded by Bill Gates—which recommended the need to combat anti-vaccine sentiment through government intervention.

“The rapid spread of misinformation and disinformation has weakened public trust and confidence in science and public health institutions. … The Commission will strive to illuminate these trends, assess their implications for global health security, and identify what new U.S. policies, capacities, and programs are required,” the commission posted on its website.

Another section on the commission’s website is titled “Building a New Order” and details the commission’s plans to recommend “steps that the United States should take to rebuild a more effective and responsive ‘international order,’ both politically and operationally.”

Ms. Ayotte, as co-chair of the commission, called for Congress to “press for the U.S. Government to intensify and scale up its work to strengthen vaccine confidence, trust and demand,” in the face of “rising vaccine hesitancy.”

The Epoch Times reached out to Ms. Ayotte’s campaign for comment.

Joe Gomez is an award-winning journalist who has worked across the globe for several major networks including: CBS, CNN, FOX News, and most recently NBC News Radio as a national correspondent based out of Washington. He has covered major disasters and worked as an investigative reporter in many danger zones.
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