CONCORD - As Kelly Ayotte's conservative credentials continue to come under fire, the Republican senate candidate has yet to use the Sarah Palin endorsement her campaign fully embraced this summer. Recent polls have shown "true conservative" candidate Ovide Lamontagne surging, at a time when Ayotte is facing heat for her failed attempt to win an anti-choice court case, costing New Hampshire taxpayers $300,000. [Union Leader, 9/3/10; Nashua Telegraph, 9/3/10] Still, there's been no sign of Sarah Palin on the New Hampshire campaign trail.
Is Ayotte distancing herself from Palin now that it's become clear the former governor is no favorite in New Hampshire? Or is Palin backing away from her "Granite Grizzly," now that Ayotte's conservative mantel has been called into question and a serious primary challenge on the right has emerged?
"At a time when her campaign is desperate to show its conservative stripes, why hasn't Ayotte called in reinforcements and brought Palin up to New Hampshire?" said Emily Browne, Press Secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. "And why hasn't the ultimate Mama Grizzly swooped in to fend off attacks against her chosen candidate in the Granite State? Their relationship seems to have fizzled out, but what we don't know is who pulled the plug - and why."
As polls show "true conservative" Lamontagne surging and as the New Hampshire Union Leader, along with prominent national conservative pundits like Laura Ingraham and Erick Erickson line up to support him, Ayotte has struggled to maintain her hold on the far-right. News broke this week that, rather than fully fight an anti-choice court case, Ayotte secretly settled the case, costing New Hampshire taxpayers $300,000. [Nashua Telegraph, 9/3/10] The case, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of New England, has been a cornerstone of Ayotte's campaign and its efforts to claim the conservative mantel in the race. When Palin endorsed Ayotte, she credited her with winning the case, saying she "battled all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the rights of New Hampshire parents - and won!"
"Now that we know what really happened with that court case, maybe it's Sarah Palin, not Kelly Ayotte, that's having buyer's remorse?" said Browne.