LITTLETON, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate candidates campaigned at diners and dumps from Lancaster to Londonderry on Saturday, each trying to meet as many voters as possible before Election Day.
Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte, halfway through a statewide tour that includes 50 stops in five days, focused on the northern reaches of the state, while Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has mostly stuck to the south. The outcome of their tight race will help determine control of the U.S. Senate, and outside groups have poured more than $100 million into the state.
Greeting customers at two restaurants in downtown Littleton, Ayotte frequently mentioned the barrage of negative television ads attacking her and offered to answer any questions.
“There’s a lot of crazy stuff on TV,” she said. “They’re not funded from here, I can assure you. If you consider voting for me, I’ll work hard for you,” she told one diner patron.
“It’s a close race, and the North Country could bring this home,” she told another.
Few voters took Ayotte up on her offer to answer questions, aside from one man who grilled her about Common Core education standards, intelligent design and other issues. However, many offered encouragement and promised their votes.
Finishing up his breakfast at The Coffee Pot restaurant, Daniel Peltier, 21, of Littleton, said he was slightly put off by Ayotte’s recent decision to write in Mike Pence instead of voting for Donald Trump for president.
“I would like to see her support her nominee,” he said.
But Peltier said he’s otherwise satisfied with Ayotte, and doesn’t believe Hassan has accomplished much as governor, particularly in addressing the state’s heroin and opioid crisis.
Ayotte, who started Saturday at the Lancaster dump, plans to end her tour with 24 stops in 24 hours before Election Day.
“New Hampshire is such a grassroots state, and I think one-on-one interaction is so important,” she said.
Hassan, meanwhile, attended canvass kickoff events with other Democratic candidates in Laconia and Derry, where she was joined by EMILY’s List founder Ellen Malcolm. EMILY’s List is a political action committee that helps elect pro-choice female Democratic candidates. In between, Hassan planned to meet voters at a diner, apple orchard, pub and pizza place.
At the packed Tilt’n Diner, in Tilton, Hassan said voters have been particularly interested in discussing health care, student loans and the opioid crisis.
“I’m just trying to meet as many voters as I can to talk to them about the importance of Tuesday’s election and the very clear choice in that election: whether we’re going to continue to have a senator in my opponent, Sen. Ayotte, who stands right with her party and corporate interests. Or whether we’re going to have a new senator with my record of standing up for the people and small businesses of New Hampshire,” she said.
Cindy Mitchell, 60, of Littleton, was having lunch at the diner. She had seen both candidates at a dinner the night before honoring law enforcement and emergency first responders and said she hasn’t decided which she’ll support.
“I’m really torn between the two since we know them both so well,” said Mitchell, a Republican who previously voted for Ayotte. “I think both of them would do such a great job.”
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