Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is criticizing New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte this week, but much of what he’s saying about her isn’t true.
In a Tuesday interview with the Washington Post, Trump said he “doesn’t know” the GOP senator and that he’s polling higher than she is in the Granite State.
He told the newspaper, “I know she’s given me no support — zero support — and yet I’m leading her.”
Neither of these claims is supported by evidence.
Trump may not be close with Ayotte, who has sought to distance herself from him and his countless controversies as she runs for re-election, but the business mogul has previously expressed admiration for the senator — suggesting he at least knows her as a political figure — and said the two have met in person more than twice.
In an interview with Concord radio station WKXL in August 2015, Trump called Ayotte “a terrific woman” and said she “would be somebody that you would consider” as a vice presidential candidate.
He also referenced a private meeting with the senator earlier that year, as well as “a couple of times” they had met before.
The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to NH Journal’s request to comment on the meetings.
Trump’s claim that he’s beating Ayotte in polling also doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
In the latest InsideSources/NH Journal poll, the senator was leading her Democratic challenger, Gov. Maggie Hassan, 49 percent to 41.4 percent. The poll showed Trump leading Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, 47.9 percent to 38.5 percent, meaning Ayotte was garnering higher levels of support in the state than Trump.
This trend also holds when looking at other polls. WMUR’s poll had Ayotte leading Trump in favorability by 10 percent.
In addition, the American Research Group poll released at the end of June had Ayotte polling better than Trump. Ayotte led Hassan, 51 percent to 42 percent, while Clinton led Trump, 47 percent to 42 percent.
Trump’s interview with the Post came after Ayotte said she was “appalled” by his criticism of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a fallen U.S. soldier, who condemned Trump for his anti-Muslim immigration proposals in a prime-time Democratic National Convention speech.
“I call it like I see it,” Ayotte said in a statement on Tuesday, “and I’m always going to stand up for our military families and what’s best for the people of New Hampshire.”
In May, Ayotte told WMUR through a spokesperson that she would “support” Trump in the general election, though she wouldn’t “endorse him.”
This parsing speaks to the fine line the senator is walking between backing her party’s presidential nominee and calling him out on certain issues.
In the InsideSources/NH Journal poll, voters were asked if Ayotte’s intention to vote for Trump without endorsing him influenced their support for Ayotte, 46.7 percent reported that it had no effect on their potential support for Ayotte, while 34.2 percent said it made them less likely to support Ayotte, and 17.5 said the information made them more likely to support her.