Kelly Ayotte Tries to Straddle the Fence on Endorsing Trump

Kelly Ayotte’s in a difficult position in New Hampshire. Well, let me revise that: she’s in a difficult position for a person whose main life goal is to remain in the United States Senate. I think, given what I know about Kelly Ayotte, that the decision whether to endorse Trump or not is a relatively simple one as far as her own conscience is concerned. But we live in an era where the sentiment that one should vote their own conscience apparently merits getting roundly booed by delegates to the Republican National Convention, so.

Ayotte’s political considerations are difficult. Trump convincingly won the New Hampshire GOP primary, and Ayotte needs every vote she can get, especially from Republicans, since she is locked in such a tight race. On the other hand, New Hampshire has a ton of independents and conservative Democrats that a Republican needs to win at least some portion of statewide, and the state as a whole has turned against Trump in a big way. What’s a would-be career politician to do?

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) Sen. Kelly Ayotte has often found herself in a familiar spot with Donald Trump: Keeping her distance.

But in this fiercely independent state, Ayotte is gambling that voters might reward her for rebuking her own party’s nominee. She has criticized Trump and will not endorse him — yet still plans to vote for the billionaire in November.

“I will take on my own party,” Ayotte told CNN in Nashua Monday. “I really believe that this is a big issue in this race — that I am the one candidate that will stand up to whomever is in the White House to do good things when we can work together — also when it’s wrong to stand up to them.”

So, she is going to vote for Trump, but she’s not endorsing him.

I have bad news: “I’m going to vote for Trump” is an endorsement of Trump. That’s what an endorsement means in the political context. This is something the folks who have jumped on the Trump Train after the convention don’t seem to recognize: your vote is a form of endorsement. It’s actually the most important form of endorsement you have, because public pronouncements of support don’t actually put people into the White House. Votes do.

The absurdity of the position is that it is also bad politics. What it says, nonsensically, is, “Trump is good enough for me to actually go into the voting booth and give my personal stamp of approval to, but I can’t say that anyone else should do the same.” Voters are often easily misled and believe some crazy things, but they have a great ability to see through this kind of BS and punish those who are responsible for slinging it.

At the end of the day, I think Ayotte is going to live to regret this move.