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Sen. Ayotte says she 'misspoke' when she said Trump would be a role model for kids

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Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said she “misspoke” Monday when she said during a debate that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would be a role model for her children.

“I misspoke tonight,” Ayotte said in a statement. “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 them as role models for my kids.”

During the debate against her Democratic challenger, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, in Henniker, N.H., Ayotte was asked if she would point to Trump as a role model and whether she would tell kids to “be like Donald Trump.”

“I think that certainly there are many role models that we have,” Ayotte replied. “And I believe that he can serve as president, so absolutely I would do that.”

Ayotte was pressed by the moderator how she could see the outspoken real estate mogul as a role model without endorsing him.

“I’ve had some disagreements with him, and I’ve been quite clear about those disagreements,” Ayotte replied.

During the campaign, Ayotte has struck an awkward position when it comes to Trump: She says she will vote for him but insists that decision does not count as an endorsement.

After Ayotte and fellow Republicans Paul Ryan and John McCain criticized Trump earlier this year, Trump refused to support them for re-election. Under pressure, the Republican nominee relented and endorsed all three in August.

After Trump’s endorsement, Ayotte reiterated to CNN that she would vote for him but not endorse his campaign.

“While he has my vote, he doesn’t have my endorsement,” she said. “There’s actually a big distinction. An endorsement is one where I’m out campaigning with someone. I’m going to continue to focus, really, on my race.”

Recent polls show Ayotte and Hassan locked in a tight battle in the Granite State — one of a number of races across the country that will determine control of the Senate.

According to a WBUR survey conducted late last month, Hassan holds a 2-point lead (48 percent to 46 percent) over Ayotte among likely New Hampshire voters. But a Monmouth University poll released the week before showed Ayotte with a 2-point advantage.

Hassan is hoping to use Ayotte’s debate stumble to her advantage. On Tuesday, her campaign released an ad seizing on the senator’s “absolutely” answer.

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