Ground Game

Kelly Ayotte is working for Donald Trump, and it’s smart politics for both of them

Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch (center), along with Vice President Michael Pence (right) and former Republican Senator from New Hampshire Kelly Ayotte.


Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch (center), along with Vice President Michael Pence (right) and former Republican Senator from New Hampshire Kelly Ayotte.

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Just hours before President Trump announced his US Supreme Court pick on television, news broke that he had asked former US senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire to help usher his nominee through Senate confirmation.

It might be among the most logical of decisions Trump has made as president.


Why was that so smart? There were eight GOP senators who publicly disagreed with Trump on his immigration order — including Arizona’s John McCain and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. Prior to losing reelection in November, Ayotte, McCain, and Graham were such close friends (and a solid voting bloc in the Senate) that they were dubbed “the three amigos.”

McCain and Graham are known for freely offering criticism, but they will also probably be more open-minded when Ayotte wants to bend their ear.

Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court

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And the move also makes sense for Ayotte, too.

Yes, Ayotte has had a tortured political relationship with Trump. Some Republicans believe that Ayotte’s wavering over Trump’s candidacy -- she has said she wrote in Mike Pence’s name for president -- cost her reelection in November. (In fairness, Ayotte’s very slim loss of about 750 votes to now Senator Maggie Hassan could be blamed on any number of factors).

All that said, the role is a high-profile one for Ayotte, who is looking for a new post aside from a visiting fellowship at Harvard this spring. After all this, Ayotte could return to private law practice, and her Supreme Court support will be viewed as quite the resume builder.


Democrats have said they will fight Trump’s appointment, Judge Neil Gorsuch. But they don’t have the votes to stop him, making his confirmation process a likely win for Trump -- and Ayotte.

James Pindell can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics:
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