You seem like a very nice lady," said Meredith resident Donald Ewing, who went on to say he really didn't think she answered some of his questions, including where she would cut the federal budget and why she could not identify with any sitting senators about her political philosophy.
Laconia Citizen: Ayotte avoids getting too specific in talk to Belknap GOP gathering
Gail Ober 9/10/09
Former New Hampshire Attorney General and U.S. Senate hopeful Kelly Ayotte said her top priorities would be national security and reducing the federal budget, but was short on specifics in her speech to local Republicans at their monthly meeting Wednesday night.
After a 10-minute speech at the Shang Hai Restaurant, she fielded a number of questions from some of the 30 people who attended, but balked at providing many direct answers from a variety of questions that varied from her stand on states' rights, to whether her political philosophy was closer to that of Maine Republican Olympia Snowe or South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint.
"I can't identify with one person, but I would listen to the people of New Hampshire," Ayotte said, saying she had dealt with "tough cases and tough situations" and has never turned away from a fight.
In her opening remarks, Ayotte gave her family's history and took direct aim at 2nd District Congressman Paul Hodes, the only Democratic candidate so far to announce his intent to run for the Senate after Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., announced he will not seek another term.
Accusing Hodes of dodging public meetings about his support for a public option in the health-care debate, Ayotte said she "would openly meet with people and discuss the issues."
"I can beat him," she said, adding that she has been under "daily attack" from the Democrats because they are "afraid of her candidacy.
"Paul Hodes votes consistently with [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi," Ayotte said. "They are spending our money by the trillions."
A Hodes spokesman said the congressman has been meeting with people and holding forums all over the state.
"He has been providing substantive and constructive ideas," said Mark Bergmann, who added that Hodes has been working on health care for three years and not three months. "We hope Mrs. Ayotte will also come up with some specifics."
In response to a media question, Ayotte said she was not ready to support the privatization of Medicare, but used the question to say that the problems and excesses in the current system are why she doesn't support expanding the government's role in health care.
She said tort reform, allowing people to cross state lines to purchase insurance and flexibility are the keys to health-care reform.
She said she would work within existing laws to secure the nation's borders, adding enforcing current immigration and employment statutes would be a good place to start. Acknowledging a drug smuggling problem on the Canadian border, she said the U.S. and Canada have a long history of cooperative law enforcement.
Ayotte said she does not support the addition of czars to President Barack Obama's advice team, saying she believes it's an attempt to circumvent the cabinet nomination process.
She said she would restrict any ability of czars to spend any money and believes Obama's czars should go through a Senate confirmation.
"You seem like a very nice lady," said Meredith resident Donald Ewing, who went on to say he really didn't think she answered some of his questions, including where she would cut the federal budget and why she could not identify with any sitting senators about her political philosophy.
The one person Ayotte never mentioned was Manchester attorney Ovide Lamontagne, who has also expressed an interest in the open seat.
Lamontagne is scheduled to speak at the next monthly meeting on Oct. 14, also at the Shang Hai.