U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte may be skipping the GOP convention this week, but there there is still plenty of politicking being done on her behalf. When Iowa Senator Joni Ernst addressed a breakfast hosted by the NH GOP, she spent roughly half her speech discussing Kelly Ayotte.
"I've seen her in action folks, and let me tell you she is a tiger."
Ernst described Ayotte as a valuable partner, a mentor on national security issues, and someone who helps others senateors reach common ground.
"She is able to inspire other people to follow her towards a common goal or common objective."
But not all the New Hampshire delegates were inspired by Ernst’s remarks, at least they way she intended them to be.
"This was a campaign speech for Kelly. It was inappropriate."
Fran Wendelboe of New Hampton is in Cleveland as alternate delegate for Ted Cruz. As she sees it, the NH GOP is violating its own rules to give Ayotte a boost.
"Our goody bags, we got Kelly Ayotte buttons in them, and Kelly Ayotte shirts, innapropriate. Even if I was a Kelly supporter I would say inappropriate. They are taking a position."
Steve Goddu, who lives in Salem and is also a Cruz delegate, says it's wrong for the party to send such a clear message of favoritism while Ayottle still has a primary to win against against Jim Rubens.
“Does Jim have a chance? Probably not, but he is a legitimate candidate. He’s campaigning. He's got signs everywhere. He’s run fundraising. He’s won a couple of small straw polls.”
State GOP chair Jennifer Horn says concerns about Rubens' treatment by the party are ill-founded. She acknowledged that the party didn’t invite him to supply delegates with campaign T-shirts or buttons, but says says it's fine for the party to show what she called appropriate support for an incumbent.
Horn said the party invited Ernst to speak to inspire delegates, and believes she did.
"First of all, I want to be very clear that Joni Ernst’s remarks were very appropriate. She was talking to a New England ground, mostly a New Hampshire crowd, and we are really grateful for the leadership that she shows and really grateful that she supports Kelly Ayotte as well."
New Hampshire’s Republican delegates will next get together for a group meal at breakfast. They will be joined by another of Kelly Ayotte’s colleagues, Tom Cotton of Arkansas.