Donald Trump turned his ire Tuesday to US Senator Kelly Ayotte, a Republican who has attempted to distance herself from the GOP nominee while facing a difficult re-election battle in New Hampshire.
In an interview with The Washington Post, the Republican presidential nominee went off on Ayotte, who has said she would support — but not endorse — Trump for November’s election.
“New Hampshire is one of my favorite places,” Trump told the Post. “You have a Kelly Ayotte who doesn’t want to talk about Trump, but I’m beating her in the polls by a lot. You tell me. Are these people that should be representing us, okay? You tell me.”
Trump went on to compare his numbers to Ayotte’s in New Hampshire, where he won a pivotal primary in February.
“I don’t know Kelly Ayotte,” Trump told the Post. “I know she’s given me no support — zero support — and yet I’m leading her in the polls. I’m doing very well in New Hampshire. We need loyal people in this country. We need fighters in this country. We don’t need weak people. We have enough of them. We need fighters in this country. But Kelly Ayotte has given me zero support, and I’m doing great in New Hampshire.”
Ayotte did not directly address Trump’s comments about her in a statement released by her campaign on Tuesday evening.
“I call it like I see it, and I’m always going to stand up for our military families and what’s best for the people of New Hampshire,” Ayotte wrote.
But last week, Ayotte defended the family of a Muslim-American soldier who was slain in Iraq in 2004 in the wake of Trump’s critical comments of them.
“The Khan family deserves nothing less than our deepest support, respect and gratitude, and they have every right to express themselves in any way they choose,” Ayotte said.
Ayotte is facing a tight race against New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat. Real Clear Politics, a political forecasting website, puts the race at nearly dead-even, one of the closest Senate races in the country this November.
Trump also told the Post that he is “not quite there yet” in terms of endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan, his party’s highest-ranking elected official. Ryan is running for his US House seat in Wisconsin against businessman Paul Nehlen, who Trump praised in a Monday night tweet.