When the Malaysian jetliner went down over eastern Ukraine, New Hampshire’s junior senator happened to be meeting with Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States. Within hours, she took to the Senate floor to call for “serious consequences” if Russia or its agents were found to be responsible. That night on Fox News, she alleged that the missile fired at the plane had Russian fingerprints all over it.
Almost four years into her term, after barely beating back a primary challenger, US Senator Kelly Ayotte is everywhere, often in the right place at the right time to make a splash.
She’s been at the center of Washington’s biggest debates, including immigration and gun control. She was among the sharpest critics of President Obama’s response to the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi. She’s flown to Ukraine twice this year, in May to observe the nation’s presidential election and in March to lead a congressional delegation that also visited Afghanistan and Israel. The Texas GOP honored her in June as a courageous Republican woman, and she was on a New Hampshire hilltop last month to officiate the wedding of former senator Scott Brown’s daughter.
Throughout, she has navigated a careful path between her party’s mainstream and its right wing. She spoke in April at a summit cosponsored by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, an organization started by the billionaire David Koch that has helped fund Tea Party-backed candidates. Six months earlier, she lambasted Tea Party favorite Senator Ted Cruz of Texas at a private luncheon for his role in shutting down the government, according to an account in The New York Times.
As she was four years ago, the 46-year-old is regularly included in the long list of potential vice presidential nominees, a position to which supporters say she would bring electoral muscle as a conservative woman with national security credentials and a biography steeped in the appeal of normal: a mother of two who lives in her hometown with her husband, a landscaper who flew combat missions during the Iraq War.
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