It took months for Kelly Ayotte to endorse Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential race, but just minutes for her political opponents to respond.

“What a real profile in courage for Kelly Ayotte to say she’d vote for the Republican nominee over Joe Biden. She’s still afraid to show real leadership in actually endorsing Donald Trump despite him being our nominee,” said former state Senate President Chuck Morse, who’s running against Ayotte in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

“Voters haven’t forgotten how she attacked Donald Trump, and divided our party by making a public spectacle of refusing to vote for him. Your record is important, and unlike Kelly Ayotte I won’t spend the next five months needing to run away from mine.”

Morse made his comments soon after Ayotte announced her endorsement of Trump — an endorsement that came just after the last GOP challenger, Nikki Haley, announced she was suspending her campaign.

Former Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) and former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte at a Manchester fundraiser in 2021.

“As I have said from the beginning, I will support our Republican nominee for President. This election is now a choice between Trump and Biden, and my choice is President Trump,” Ayotte said. “Under President Biden, our country’s safety and prosperity have diminished and it is apparent that Biden’s cognitive decline renders him unfit to serve another four years.

“Regardless of who is elected president, my priority will always be the people of New Hampshire and as governor, I look forward to fighting for them every day to keep our state safe, prosperous, and free.”

The Morse campaign was unimpressed.

“Granite Staters are suddenly supposed to trust that you won’t turn your back on the same Republican nominee you publicly attacked and refused to vote for? Someone get this girl some flip flops!” tweeted campaign manager Maya Harvey.

And it wasn’t just Republicans. The two top Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for governor also opened political fire on Ayotte’s endorsement of the former president.

“Kelly Ayotte didn’t have the spine to stand up to Donald Trump in 2016, going as far as to say a man who brags about sexually assaulting women is a good role model for our kids before weakly walking it all back,” said former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig. “Kelly Ayotte is showing us once again that she is too weak to stand up for Granite Staters, buckling under Donald Trump’s pressure.”

Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, Craig’s competitor, took a similar stance.

“With her endorsement today, Kelly has made it clear she intends to vote for a twice impeached, criminally indicted, disgraced former president who bragged about assaulting women and supports a dangerous national abortion ban,” said Warmington. “Kelly knew Trump was wrong in 2016 when she wrote in Mike Pence’s name, but now after four indictments, 91 criminal charges, three anti-abortion Supreme Court justices, and one violent attempt to overturn an election, she is all in for Donald Trump. In every election, New Hampshire has rejected Donald Trump and MAGA supporters like Kelly Ayotte.”

Ayotte has a mixed record when it comes to Donald Trump. Her decision to withdraw her endorsement of Trump during the 2016 race is widely believed to have cost her the U.S. Senate race. And Trump had less-than-kind things to say about Ayotte at the time, too.

But in 2017, Trump tapped Ayotte to “sherpa” his first U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, through the nomination process.

Ayotte’s campaign appeared to take the criticism from Morse in stride.

“As reported by both the New Hampshire Journal and the Union Leader earlier today, Kelly endorsed President Trump — Chuck is sounding a lot like Joe Biden already forgetting what happened just this morning,” said campaign spokesman John Corbett.


“Chuck Morse is a low-energy career politician desperately attempting to launch tired, false and hypocritical attacks,” Corbett added. “Besides running circles around Chuck Morse since July, Kelly has repeatedly said that she would support our Republican nominee, which Kelly did today. Chuck is losing this race by every metric possible. Unfortunately for Chuck, his pathetic campaign is only going to get worse.”

The email response also included a link to a meme of Jeb Bush campaigning for president in New Hampshire during the 2016 race, featuring his now-infamous “please clap” moment.

In the background is Chuck Morse.