New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte said during a Monday night debate she would point to Donald Trump as a role model, but then quickly walked back her comments in a statement issued late Monday evening.
Her original comments came as part of an exchange with a moderator during the Concord Monitor’s Senate debate at New England College with her Democratic opponent, Gov. Maggie Hassan.
The moderator first asked the Republican whether she would “tell a child to aspire to be like Donald Trump.”
Ayotte didn’t directly answer the question. “I would tell a child to absolutely aspire to, certainly to be their best, and to be president and to seek to run for the presidency, absolutely,” she said.
The moderator pressed her. “But again, to the question. Would you tell them to be like Donald Trump? Would you point to him as a role model?” he asked.
“Well, I think certainly there are many role models that we have. And I believe he can serve as president, and so absolutely, I would do that,” Ayotte said.
Asked why she won’t endorse Trump, Ayotte said she has “had disagreements with him.”
In a statement issued around 10:45 p.m., Ayotte said she “misspoke.”
“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,” Ayotte said.
Both Ayotte and Hassan have sought to carve out space between themselves and their parties’ presidential nominees, and throughout this race, they’ve attacked each other for being too close to the top of their respective tickets.