New Hampshire's Virtual Town Hall
The tea leaves could not be any more clear in foretelling Kelly Ayotte as a top contender to become Mitt Romney’s running mate.
True, every time the presumptive presidential nominee comes to New Hampshire to visit, Ayotte manages an appearance.
She was at his side in late April when Romney went to Portsmouth (see picture left) to talk about commercial fishing as a small business that struggles under the regulatory thumb of the Obama Administration.
She was at his side in June when he launched his recreation vehicle road trip from the Scamman Farm in Stratham.
And he was at his side on Wednesday when he marched in an Independence Day parade in Wolfeboro, where he has a home and has been spending the week vacationing with family.
But consider the evidence of late: Ann Romney, Mitt’s wife, is on the record as saying about a woman VP: "We've been looking at that, and I love that option as well." She made her comments to CBS News in a joint interview with her husband that was broadcast Thursday.
Ayotte, a Republican and the state’s junior U.S. senator in her first term, is not the sole candidate on the Romney watchlist.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman are on the list. And Michelle Bachmann seems to believe she’s on the list. The Minnesota congresswoman and former presidential candidate seemed to indicate to CNN recently that she was being vetted for consideration.
But there’s an awful lot of attention being focused on Ayotte of late.
Here’s what she potentially brings to the table for Romney:
New Hampshire’s four electoral college votes: That isn’t many when compared to some of the other swing states in play in 2012, but there are scenarios that show the difference between winning and losing could come down to those four votes;
A law and order background: She was New Hampshire’s attorney general for five years in the administrations of both a Republican governor, Craig Benson, and a Democratic governor, John Lynch. She demonstrated she can play nicely with others in the political sandbox;
Small business support: Her husband, Joseph Daley, runs a small business, a landscaping company;
Military knowledge: Her husband is also an Air Force veteran, and she serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and has visited some of the foreign policy hotspots, including Afghanistan;
She’s a woman: And she’s a mom to a daughter and son. Political campaigns desperately need some estrogen to balance the testosterone.
And, foremost, she’s no rogue: For some people, Sarah Palin poisoned the well for all future women vice presidential nominees as a result of the 2008 presidential campaign. But Ayotte is no rogue. She’s a team player, talks a good talk when it comes to GOP principles, and would hold to a credo as important to running mates as it is to doctors: “First, do no harm.”
What are her chances? Even money. But those are better odds than they were three months ago.