Politics

The New Way Democrats Are Linking Republican Lawmakers to Trump

Their message: GOP Trump backers can't be trusted to keep the country safe

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., continues to draw criticism from Democrats over her support for Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When it comes to national security, Democrats are trying to turn Donald Trump into a liability for Republican incumbents like New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.   

In a memo released Thursday, the Democratic-aligned Senate Majority PAC argues that the first-term New Hampshire Republican's support for Trump "completely discredits her own national security rhetoric and credibility."   

"While other Republicans have finally recognized the danger a Trump presidency presents our country and our world, Ayotte has avoided the reality entirely," wrote Shripal Shah, communications director for the group. "Instead, she stands by him, proving that when push comes to shove, partisanship and her party bosses trump what’s best for our country’s national security interests."

[ Roll Call’s 2016 Election Guide ]

Democrats have tried linking Republican Senate incumbents to Trump for months, but doing so over the issue of national security is a new wrinkle since last weekend's terrorist attack at an Orlando nightclub.   

Voters have, of late, trusted the GOP more to keep the country safe. But Democrats believe that Trump's presence on the ticket this year gives them an opening to win the national security debate .   

The Democratic argument could be especially significant in New Hampshire which features a battleground Senate race with an incumbent, Ayotte, who has made national security a marquee issue since joining Congress in 2011.   

Republicans counter that Democrats are engaging in wishful thinking, especially given the recent spate of terrorist attacks under President Barack Obama's tenure.  Polls indicate that voters trust Trump more than presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on several key metrics.   

[ Democrats Look to Flip the Script on Terror after Trump Response ]  

But there's little doubt that Democrats now are at least trying to make the case.  

Senate Majority PAC's memo follows a digital ad released Wednesday from the campaign of Ayotte's likely opponent, New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, which showed footage of former Defense secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta criticizing Trump's foreign policy.  

The Hassan campaign also issued a press release Thursday touting the fact that Richard Armitage, onetime deputy secretary of State for George W. Bush, had endorsed Hillary Clinton.  

Contact Roarty at alexroarty@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @Alex_Roarty .  

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