Yesterday, Mittens Romney got the rumor mills a churning when he named said he has 15 names on his short list for nomination for Vice President, but only named one — Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Who is this cipher of New England?
Calling Ayotte the presumed nomination for Vice President is absurdly early at this point. Romney's still facing stiff competition from his fellow Republican primary contenders. He sounded like Joe Arpaio at last night's Republican debate, which doesn't bode well for the Latino vote. And at the time Romney spat out Ayotte's name, she was sitting right next to Romney. Saying whatever the person nearest you wants to hear the most is a pretty Romney thing to do; Mittens is nothing if not an accomplished suck up.
Still, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire has spent the last several years being groomed by the Republican establishment, and with the rise of the Tea Party, she's only seen her profile rise. Before her election to the Senate last year (she won 60% of the vote), she received endorsements from Sarah Palin, Hayley Barbour, John McCain, and Rick Santorum. Republican Party establishment hasn't yet gotten the memo that women don't vote for other women simply by virtue of having matching genitalia, and thus they love Ayotte because they think she'll help get the ladies to vote Republican. They could, I don't know, talk about shopping. She's a mom, just like lots of ladies! She's from New England, just like smart people! And she's a fiscal conservative, standing against raising the debt ceiling and congressional earmarks. The American people will go nuts for her!
But Senator Ayotte's major career accomplishments aren't her fiscal policy or "job creating," as a Senator; although Ayotte's vocally chanted the requisite Tea Party cheers, Romney's possible pick for second in line to the Presidency has been a Senator for less than a year. Ayotte's political character can best by assessed by observing her conservative social crusades as state Attorney General.
Ayotte is vehemently pro-life. In 2003— before Ayotte took over as Attorney General— then-New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson signed a bill into law requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortions, as well as a 48 hour waiting period, with no consideration for the young woman's health. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England took the state to court and won, but the decision was appealed by the state. Governor Benson was defeated by a Democrat who urged the State Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional, but the state's new Attorney General appealed the case to the US Supreme Court against the governor's wishes.
Kelly Ayotte argued the case herself in Ayotte v Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
The court didn't uphold the law, but instead declared that lower courts need not void the law in its entirety just because it failed to make a health exception. In 2007, the New Hampshire legislature repealed the law, and thus all that hemming and hawing was for naught. To add insult to injury, in 2008, a Federal District Court ordered the state of New Hampshire to pay Planned Parenthood's legal fees, and the next year, Ayotte authorized a payment of $300,000 from the state's coffers to Planned Parenthood.
That's a kind of roundabout way to make a donation!
Ayotte's also known for pursuing the death penalty in the case of the murder of Officer Michael Briggs, in spite of opposition from people who questioned the role of race in the case (Briggs is white, New Hampshire is 95% white, and Michael Addison, the man convicted of the murder, is black). A shady series of emails between Ayotte and her 2010 Senate campaign manager suggested that she was pursuing the death penalty for her own political gain. The State of New Hampshire has spent $2.7 million thus far on the case, and they're going to have to spend more if Addison's punishment is seen through. The state hasn't sentenced anyone to death since 1950, hasn't executed anyone since 1939, and doesn't even have an execution chamber.
In addition to crusading in favor of a parental notification law and putting a man to death in a yet-to-be-built execution chamber, Ayotte believes that marriage is between a man and a woman and has commended other states' attorneys general for working to define marriage as a heterosexual union. She doesn't believe that there's enough evidence to prove that global warming is real, and doesn't believe in offering amnesty to undocumented immigrants for any reason.
Fiscal responsibility, job creating, and unmitigated social zealotry. Just what this country needs.