Kelly Ayotte was first elected to the Senate in 2010 from New Hampshire. To many observers, she is one of the individuals most likely to be on Mitt Romney’s short list of Vice Presidential prospects. Then, on Monday, Mitt and Senator Ayotte campaigned together in New Hampshire. She has toured the state working for Romney’s candidacy. A video follows of one of her speeches endorsing Mitt.
What makes Ayotte so special? Well, prior to running for Senate, she was New Hampshire’s Attorney General. In this office, she acquired a level of fame by personally prosecuting some of the murder cases which were tried.
She’s only 43 years old, is married to an Iraq War veteran, Joe Daley, and has two young children. This may have an appeal to Mitt, since he is so much older than Obama, and has had trouble connecting with younger voters. Also, as you may have already guessed from her photo, Ayotte is a woman, and Mitt has been having trouble with voters of this gender. She comes from a swing state, New Hampshire. She hasn’t hustled herself in front of the cameras since coming to DC, which indicates that she has made fewer missteps than some of the other potential nominees.
More importantly, she is well-liked by conservatives. In 2010, she was endorsed for Senator by Sarah Palin. She has been steadfast in her support of the death penalty, and her opposition to gay rights and abortion.
What are the downsides to choosing Ayotte? Well, one of Mitt’s home states is Massachusetts, which is awfully close to New Hampshire, which would mean that the ticket doesn’t have geographical balance. Ayotte shines on stage; I recall a previous Presidential contest where a stodgy nominee chose a young woman for Vice President who consistently outshone him. Romney may not want to chance a re-run of that race; you might recall that from the middle of September until Election Day, Palin spoke to massive, enthusiastic throngs of adoring fans, while McCain barely filled a coffee shop at times.
Could Ayotte work as a Veep pick? A lot depends upon how Romney’s advisors in summer view the electoral map. If they think it will be close, or that he has a big lead, they may choose a more stolid running mate. But, if he has to swing for the fences, there aren’t many picks better than Ayotte.