A Conversation with Kelly Ayotte

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte

The Dartmouth Review sat down with United States Senator Kelly Ayotte, when she came to Dartmouth to campaign for her reelection.

The Dartmouth Review (TDR): Your Senate race against Maggie Hassan is one of the closest in the nation and many Dartmouth students are thinking about registering in New Hampshire in order to participate in this election in particular. If they do, why should the average Dartmouth student vote for you?

Senator Kelly Ayotte (KA): I would ask for the vote of Dartmouth students because I am someone who is an independent voice, that has a bipartisan record (one of the most in the Senate), someone that is focused on delivering results in the areas that I think will be available to every Dartmouth student. Number one, on jobs, to create the best environment as you graduate from Dartmouth through tax reform, regulatory reform, and getting our fiscal house in order. These policies will make a difference for students at Dartmouth because if we aren’t focused on having a tax code that keeps jobs here and keeps us competitive, that will make it more difficult for every graduate. I would also say getting our fiscal house in order; the nineteen trillion dollars in debt—it’s you, the students, who are going to pay it off if people like me don’t address how we’re going to get our fiscal house in order. And finally, I would say that I have a strong record of protecting our environment and working across the aisle to do that, and I think that’s important. As a Republican, I can really be a leader in bringing people together. Instead of having a policy where it‘s about Republicans and Democrats, it needs to be about actually conserving the environment and protecting the future for all of us.

TDR: Speak to your time in college. Can you tell us about what kind of student you were? Were you involved in politics on campus?

KA: I went to Penn State undergrad. I was in a sorority, Delta Gamma, and I was president of the Pan-Hellenic Association, the president of all the student governing bodies for sororities at Penn State. Penn State is a large school, and all of the student leaders were part of an advisory council to the president of the university, so I was involved in that context. I was also on…the ski team at Penn State, which was a club sport I did for a couple of years. I look back on my college experience, and it was a blast; it was a great experience; and I think it helped lay a foundation for me—not only the education I got—but also the ability to be in a position where you had to represent other people and resolve issues that needed to be resolved on their behalf. At the time I didn’t think it would be relevant to what I’m doing today, but I think it does have some relevance.

TDR: How has the political climate on college campuses changed since you were a student?

KA: It’s hard to know. It’s really important on college campuses that there be respect for all viewpoints. One thing I want to make sure of is that on every college campus, however you characterize yourself and your viewpoints, that you’re able to express them. I think that’s fundamental to learning. If we cannot debate the ideas that different people have on college campuses, where are we going to debate these ideas? Whether its conservatives or progressives, if we can’t openly tell people what we think and debate those ideas on a college campus like this, then our nation is not going to be as good a place as it could be. This is the crucible of ideas. This is where new ideas are formed and people debate them. That is what I hope and would like to see on our college campuses.

TDR: What does it mean to you to be a moderate in a political landscape where accusations of disloyalty to the Republican party and the conservative cause are becoming increasingly common?

KA: I’m going to call it like I see it. I certainly am a Republican, and I believe in the principles of our party in terms of smaller, more accountable government and strong national security, but my view is that I’m here to represent New Hampshire. I’m here to be a strong, independent voice for New Hampshire. I got elected by people from both sides of the aisle, and I represent everyone. That’s how I view my job. I can do that while sticking to my Republican principles; I don’t think that’s mutually exclusive.

TDR: Which political thinker, scholar, or thinker do you think best aligns with your views?

KA: I don’t think there’s a particular person that aligns with every view I have. I have two people that I admire and think are strong political thinkers who have represented this state. I really think they did an excellent job. They’re Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) and the late Warren Rudman (R-NH). Both of them were focused on the fiscal state of the country and had an ability—Judd still does and Warren had—an ability to work across the aisle to deliver results and actually get things done. Both also, obviously, had great integrity in how they conducted themselves.