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Ayotte doesn't rule out serving Trump administration

Union Leader Correspondent

November 11. 2016 7:31PM
Outgoing U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte hugs Coast Guard veteran Russell Labbe of Milford on Friday at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen. (DAN SEUFERT/Union Leader Correspondent)

BOSCAWEN — U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, said Friday she is still “regrouping” after her election defeat Tuesday to Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, but she did not rule out playing a role in the Trump administration.

Rumors circulated nationally Friday morning that Ayotte could be tapped for a position in the new administration, despite her break from statements during her Senate campaign that were seen as supporting Trump.

Asked by reporters numerous times about the rumors and her plans after the Veterans Day Ceremony at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery Friday, Ayotte said it’s too soon to say what she will do next.

“President Trump has a great opportunity to bring people together. We’ve had our differences but I wish him the very, very best,” she said. “If I can help him in any way, I will. But I want to make sure that people come together now, and we put (aside) any of our differences now.”

After spending nearly 30 minutes after the ceremony meeting a crowd of veterans and their families who gathered to say farewell to her and thank her, Ayotte told reporters she was unwinding with her family after the election, which she lost to Hassan by about 1,000 votes.

Asked if she might run for office again, or possibly challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in 2020, Ayotte said it was too soon to say.

“I’m just regrouping with my family right now, but I will always find a way to serve our state and our country, even as a private citizen, this is so important to me, I love our country and I love our state. I just want to make sure we succeed. We have a real opportunity to do this now,” she said.

Last month, during a debate with Hassan, Ayotte said Trump was “a role model,” but hours later walked back that statement, calling it “a mistake.”

On Friday she was asked if the Trump statements played a role in her loss to Hassan.

“I think this was a very close election,” she said. “We were outspent, too, almost $17 million on television, so you could look at any factor.”

“I wish my very best for Governor Hassan. This was a spirited campaign, but now it’s time to work together,” she said. “I would also like to congratulate President Trump.”

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