- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2016

More than seven in 10 voters say Donald Trump is not a role model for children, according to a poll conducted in the days after Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said she “absolutely” thought the mogul deserved the label, only to walk it back.

Only 17 percent of voters told the Politico/Morning Consult survey that Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee for president, is a role model, compared to 72 percent who said he wasn’t.

The mogul couldn’t even win over his supporters, the pollsters said: Only 37 percent of them said he is a role model, while more than half — 51 percent — said he is not.

The “role model” question underscores the tightrope that vulnerable Senate Republicans are walking this cycle, as the GOP tries to defend its 54-46 majority.

The candidates are fearful of alienating independents and Republicans who chafe at Mr. Trump’s more strident positions and comments, yet they can’t afford to turn off the mogul’s passionate supporters, either.

Ms. Ayotte, in a debate on Monday, first said that Mr. Trump “absolutely” was a role model, then tried to take it back in a statement after her showdown with Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat who is virtually tied with the incumbent.

“I misspoke tonight. While I would hope all of our children would aspire to be president, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have set a good example, and I wouldn’t hold up either of them as role models for my kids,” Ms. Ayotte said.

Indeed, the new poll found that more than half of voters —54 percent — don’t think Mrs. Clinton is a role model, either, compared to 35 percent who say the Democratic nominee deserves the label.

Still, the Hassan camp swiftly crafted a campaign ad that juxtaposes Ms. Ayotte’s debate response with Mr. Trump’s bombastic comments, from mocking Mrs. Clinton’s bout with pneumonia at a 9/11 event in New York to criticizing a Miss Universe winner who gained weight after the competition.

“And that was just this week,” the ad says.

President Obama had a better showing than either nominee in the poll released Friday, though still less than half — 49 percent — said he is a role model, while 42 percent said he is not.

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