Ayotte for VP? It just might make sense!

Last modified: 8/7/2012 12:00:00 AM

You know what's not the craziest idea ever? New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's running mate.

It was Sen. John McCain who got us thinking about it - not that he's necessarily the best picker of VPs - after he floated the idea again while he was in the state last week. "I can't tell you what an outstanding job Kelly has done, not only as a U.S. senator but as a very important member of the Armed Services Committee, where she has made an enormous impact," McCain said. "Some might even say Vice President Kelly Ayotte."

This notion seems to be getting more attention beyond New Hampshire than here at home, but think about it long enough and it starts to make a strange sort of sense.

Yes, yes, Ayotte is young. Yes, she's in only her first term as a U.S. senator. Yes, she comes from a tiny state in the Northeast with just four electoral votes. But put aside all those negatives, and consider all the ways in which Ayotte might just help Romney out:

• Ayotte really is anti-abortion. Romney has been on both sides of the abortion divide, which makes him a hard candidate for some conservatives to get excited about. As the state's attorney general, Ayotte defended a New Hampshire parental-notification law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, making her a champion among anti-abortion activists, despite the case's murky outcome.

• Ayotte really is tough on crime. Voters examining Romney's tenure as governor of Massachusetts will find a mixed record on law-and-order issues. As attorney general, Ayotte led the successful prosecution of a capital murder case, putting the first person on death row in New Hampshire for 70 years. As her 2010 Senate campaign showed, Ayotte considers the Michael Addison case among her career highlights. Before that, as the state's chief homicide prosecutor, she secured convictions for the young men charged with slaying two Dartmouth College professors.

• Ayotte is far more like the voters than Romney is. Too much of this content-lite campaign has focused on Romney's wealth. Ayotte would offer a striking balance: She grew up in a middle-class household and went to public school. Her husband is a military veteran of the Iraq war and a local contractor.

• She is both Tea-Party approved and able to work with Democrats. Romney wasn't the first choice of most Tea Party activists this year, but when Ayotte ran for the Senate she got the endorsement of Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, who dubbed her the Granite Grizzly. (Imagine!)

In the Senate Ayotte has been a reliable GOP vote. But as AG, she was twice nominated by a Democratic governor who still has kind words for her. In a story produced by Josh Rogers of New Hampshire Public Radio, John Lynch described her as "very decent, very thoughtful, very focused on problem solving."

• She's female. Women won't vote for Romney just because he picks a woman as his running mate. But Republicans up and down the ticket this year will be forced to defend themselves against accusations that their party has waged a "war on women." Ayotte will make a more convincing case than Romney.

Romney doesn't turn to us too often for advice, but this might just make sense to him as well as to us. Few people expected David Souter of Weare to land on the Supreme Court or former governor Johh H. Sununu to land in Washington as George H.W. Bush's right-hand man. No one expected President Obama to offer New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg a job in his Cabinet - and no one expected Gregg to say yes . . . and then no.

Ayotte for veep? Far more unlikely things have happened in this state.'


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