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Palin endorses 'Granite grizzly' Ayotte



Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin yesterday endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte, calling her a 'Granite grizzly.'

'It's my honor to endorse a Granite State 'mama grizzly' who has broken barriers, fought off and locked up criminals, and battled all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the rights of New Hampshire parents - and won!' Palin, the former Alaska governor, wrote on her Facebook page.

Palin praised the job Ayotte did as attorney general, calling her tough on crime, supportive of law enforcement and tireless in defending the rights of citizens.

Palin noted that Ayotte is a mother of two and the wife of an Iraq combat veteran and small-business owner. 'This pro-life, pro-family, anti-tax constitutional commonsense conservative is the Democrats' biggest fear in November,' Palin wrote.

Ayotte, in response, called Palin 'a conservative icon' who 'took on the entrenched special interests to deliver results.'

Palin criticized Democratic Senate candidate Paul Hodes for running what she characterized as false ads against Ayotte. Hodes recently launched a TV ad accusing Ayotte of ducking responsibility for not catching the alleged Financial Resources Mortgage fraud and implying that Ayotte erased her e-mails to cover up responsibility. The attorney general's office has released thousands of Ayotte's e-mails in recent weeks, none of which indicates any knowledge of the case.

Palin also criticized one of Ayotte's primary opponents, Bill Binnie, calling him 'a self-funded millionaire running with an R next to his name who likes Obamacare and cap-and-tax.'

Actually, Binnie has said he opposes President Obama's health care law - though there are some aspects he agrees with, such as insurance exchanges and ensuring coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. He has also said he opposes a so-called cap-and-trade plan to reduce carbon emissions.

In her endorsement, Palin touts Ayotte's defense of New Hampshire's short-lived parental notification law. 'When Planned Parenthood challenged New Hampshire's parental notification law, Kelly fought them all the way to the Supreme Court and won,' Palin wrote.

Ayotte's 'win,' however, is not clear cut. In 2003, the Legislature passed a law requiring pregnant girls to tell a parent before getting an abortion. Planned Parenthood challenged the law, and two lower courts declared it unconstitutional because it did not excuse a girl from the requirement if her health was in danger. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ayotte asked the Supreme Court to uphold the parental notification law. She wanted the court to let New Hampshire avoid creating a specific health exemption. The case could have had broad implications for abortion laws nationwide if the court had struck down the lower courts' requirement of a health exemption, or if it had overturned the entire law because one part was unconstitutional.

Instead, the court ruled that the parental notification law was problematic because it did not have the health exemption. But instead of striking down the entire law, it sent the law back to the lower court. A federal judge in Concord was asked to either write a health exemption or send the law back to the Legislature to write the exemption.

The Legislature made the case moot by repealing parental notification altogether.

Ayotte succeeded to the extent that the Supreme Court did not agree with the lower court that the entire law was unconstitutional. But she failed to convince the Supreme Court of her central argument that New Hampshire did not need a health exemption. And the parental notification law she was arguing to uphold was repealed.

Ayotte's opponents in the Senate race immediately criticized the Palin endorsement.

'I have consistently said I will win my race in Tilton, N.H., and not Washington D.C.,' Binnie said, through spokesman Bryan Lanza.

'Today's endorsement shows that Kelly Ayotte is just a mouthpiece for the radical right wing of the Republican Party who are out of touch with New Hampshire voters,' said Hodes spokesman Mark Bergman in a statement. Hodes then criticized both Ayotte and Palin for supporting oil drilling, resigning a position to run for office and being pro-life.

Republican Ovide Lamontagne issued a statement that Palin 'has endorsed an establishment candidate over an authentic conservative in a primary.'

Republican Jim Bender's spokeswoman Christine Baratta had this response: 'I think I got an e-mail about that, but I must have deleted it.'