Democratic Groups Tie Ayotte to Trump on Abortion

New ad hits Republicans for voting to defund Planned Parenthood

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., speaks during a "barn hall" in Kingston, N.H., Sept. 9, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., speaks during a "barn hall" in Kingston, N.H., Sept. 9, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted September 12, 2016 at 5:00am

Two Democratic super PACs that advocate for women’s reproductive rights are going on the air in New Hampshire Monday with a $1.7 million ad buy tying endangered Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte to her party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump. 

The TV ad, shared first with Roll Call, is a joint effort from Planned Parenthood Votes and EMILY’s List’s Women Vote. It will will air in the Boston media market through Sept. 20. The buy also includes digital ads from Planned Parenthood Votes.

“Kelly Ayotte says she’s on our side, but on our rights, she’s squarely with Donald Trump,” the narrator in the ad says. 

The commercial features a clip of Trump saying Planned Parenthood should be defunded, with the narrator adding that Ayotte voted to defund the organization six times.

[Trump and Pence Aren’t Backing Ayotte, But She’s Sticking with Them]

Ayotte has supported redirecting federal funding for Planned Parenthood to community health centers that provide women’s health care. She opposed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s efforts to shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood last year.

The narrator says both Trump and Ayotte “oppose our right to safe and legal abortion.” 

The ad features a clip of Ayotte telling a crowd that Roe v. Wade should be overturned and another clip of Trump telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions. Trump later walked back those comments. 

“Ayotte and Trump. Wrong for New Hampshire women,” the narrator concludes. 

Ayotte has said she will support the GOP presidential nominee over his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, but she will not endorse him. She has repeatedly condemned some of his more controversial remarks. The senator has campaigned on greater access to mammograms and over-the-counter birth control.

Her race against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is one of the closest Senate races in the country. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the contest a Tossup

[Roll Call’s Senate Challenger Rankings: Take Two]

Most recent polls show the race nearly tied or Hassan up slightly. An outlier came out over the weekend. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist Poll, conducted Sept. 6-8, had Ayotte up by 8 points. 

Planned Parenthood Votes is spending more in the Granite State than ever before and more on TV there than in any other state this year. The group’s efforts are motivated by internal polling conducted last year that suggested a majority of the state’s voters did not support defunding the organization, as well as polling that suggested support for abortion rights is higher in New Hampshire than in any other state. 

Last week, the group announced a $2 million joint ground game investment with Service Employees International Union and NextGen Climate, an environmental advocacy group.