Gov. Maggie Hassan on Wednesday presented her proposals for how she would keep New Hampshire and the country safe if elected to the U.S. Senate this fall.
National security has been a hotly contested issue in the race between Hassan and her opponent, incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has questioned Hassan’s grasp of the topic.
If elected, Hassan said, she would vote to increase air strikes to defeat ISIS, increase military spending and better utilize cybersecurity to prevent terrorism abroad and at home.
During her speech, Hassan also separated herself from Ayotte, accusing Ayotte of playing politics with national security.
“All of these efforts to keep our country safe, secure and strong are only possible if we have leaders who will always put country before their political party – but some are failing that test right now,” Hassan told the crowd at the American Legion Sweeney Post in Manchester.
Hassan criticized Ayotte's effort to block the Iran nuclear deal and refusing to vote on a bill to stop terrorists from buying guns. Hassan said she had broken with her own party on a handful of issues, such as halting Syrian refugees after the Paris terror attacks and opposing President Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay.
Hassan, a Democrat, also attacked Ayotte for her support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, saying that anyone who backs Trump is threatening the nation's security.
“Any elected leader who says that Donald Trump – she is voting for Donald Trump, she is voting to put him in the situation room – does not deserve to hold office," Hassan told reporters after her speech. Ayotte has said she will support but will not endorse Trump and has criticized several of Trump's comments.
In a written response after the event, Ayotte's spokeswoman fired back calling out Hassan's support for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. "Governor Hassan is hardly in a position to launch these attacks given her repeated refusal to account for Hillary Clinton's failed national security record or denounce her for mishandling classified information and lying to the public about it," said spokeswoman Liz Johnson, stressing that Ayotte has spent her entire career on keeping N.H. safe.
Hassan and Ayotte are locked in one of the most competitive U.S. Senate races in the country.