Ayotte pushes back on abortion, denies NH has a ban

Jul. 25—CONCORD — A day after entering the race, Republican candidate for governor and ex-U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte pushed back Tuesday against criticism of her record on abortion rights, insisting it is a "falsehood" to claim there was a ban on the procedure in New Hampshire.

During an appearance on the Good Morning New Hampshire radio talk show program with Jack Heath, Ayotte said her Democratic opponents, Cinde Warmington of Concord and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, would harp on reproductive rights because their policies would lead to high taxes and more crime that voters would reject.

"They love to spread misleading falsehoods; there is no abortion ban in New Hampshire," Ayotte said. "Our current law aligns us with the majority of states restricting late-term abortions."

Warmington said it is Ayotte who is trying to mislead voters

"Kelly Ayotte is complicit in taking away women's rights in New Hampshire and is now lying about it. New Hampshire Republicans passed into law an extreme abortion ban two years ago that is deeply unpopular among Granite Staters across party lines," Warmington said.

"But Kelly Ayotte supports this ban. She also supported overturning Roe v. Wade and then helped the Trump White House place a justice on the Supreme Court who did just that."

Ayotte acted as a chief adviser to Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and helped him win confirmation to the nation's high court, where he joined the majority in the so-called Hobbs decision that overturned Roe vs. Wade.

In her own statement Monday, Craig said Ayotte has a long history of opposing abortion rights.

"Ayotte has spent the last six years profiting off her votes to defund Planned Parenthood and strip reproductive rights by taking high-paying corporate lobbying jobs," Craig said.

"Granite Staters deserve a governor who will fight for them, not serve the MAGA extremists and reward corporate special interests."

Ayotte campaign spokesman John Corbett said New Hampshire's restrictions with exceptions after six months are in line with what Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut have and supported by a super-majority of New Hampshire voters.

"The Democrats should stop lying and misleading the women of New Hampshire," Corbett said.

"Like most people in New Hampshire, Kelly agrees with current law, which aligns us with a majority of states in addressing abortion after six months of pregnancy."

As AG, defended parental notification before U.S. Supreme Court

As attorney general, Ayotte defended before the high court the state's abortion parental notification law.

After Democrats took the majority in the Legislature, they repealed the law in 2007.

Some social conservatives criticized Ayotte after a federal judge ended up determining Planned Parenthood challenging that law was the "prevailing party" and entitled to taxpayer payment of its legal fees.

A short time after Ayotte entered the race, Planned Parenthood's New Hampshire Action Fund released a timeline of her views on the issue.

Gov. Chris Sununu has agreed with Ayotte that the national and state Democratic parties spent millions of dollars in 2022 to falsely brand the abortion restriction law he signed as being out of the political mainstream.

These attacks helped U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and Reps. Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster, all D-NH, coast to comfortable wins over GOP opponents who, they all claimed, were in support of a national abortion ban.

But Democratic Party operatives produced an audio of Sununu using the term in a May 2022 interview that he did with "The Three Martini" podcast.

"Look, I am the first governor in 40 years to sign an abortion ban. Republican governors before me never signed on that," Sununu said.

"I have done more on the pro-life issue, if you will, than anyone."

Ayotte also went on the offense Tuesday with her criticism of Craig's tenure as mayor, saying the state's largest city has been a "revolving door" for criminals and that the problem of homelessness got much worse while she was in office.

"Look at what has happened in Manchester," Ayotte said.

"I want to make sure we support our law enforcement and end the revolving door of criminals that we have seen...Look at the homelessness, the violent crimes coming out of Manchester. Her record is definitely not one in my view that should become governor of this state."

Craig accused Ayotte of working for corporate interests that made the housing crisis worse.

"Kelly Ayotte is decrying the problems that she has made millions of dollars helping create. She serves on the board of a company that is profiting from buying up affordable housing units and evicting residents across the country," Craig said.

"In Manchester, we're working every day to help solve the challenges caused by greedy corporations and shadow lobbyists like Kelly Ayotte. We're adding hundreds of affordable housing units, and we've created thousands of new family-sustaining jobs. I've worked closely with law enforcement to make Manchester a safer place to live. We now have the largest police complement in city history and together we've lowered violent crime by 38%.

While Ayotte declined to support Donald Trump for president in 2016, she has vowed to support whoever wins the Republican nomination in 2024.

klandrigan@unionleader.com