Kelly Ayotte Says Donald Trump Is ‘Absolutely’ a Role Model for Children

It's hot out here for a down-ballot candidate.

Sure, you could watch Sen. Kelly Ayotte answer in her first televised debate against Gov. Maggie Hassan whether she believes Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is a role model for children. But for the full, Miss USA 2007 effect, it’s best served transcribed:

“I—I think that certainly there are many role models that we have, and I believe that he can serve as president, so absolutely I would do that.”

Ayotte and Hassan are locked in one of the tightest Senate races in the country, with Hassan enjoying the narrowest of leads over the incumbent Republican for her New Hampshire seat. And Trump, who dedicated a portion of last week’s blockbuster presidential debate to assure Americans that Rosie O’Donnell deserved every mean thing he’s said about her over the last decade and “nobody feels sorry for her,” has repeatedly given the Ayotte campaign fits.

Ayotte has crafted a curious position of supporting Trump but not endorsing him, that she’ll “stand up” to him, but still render her vote to him come November. Ayotte, who serves on both the Senate’s Armed Services Committee as well as the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has refused to say whether she can entrust the nuclear codes to a man who urges everyone to check out a former beauty queen’s sex tape in a 3 a.m. tweetstorm.

But just three hours after Monday night’s debate, Team Ayotte backtracked, claiming she “misspoke.”

“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,” Ayotte said in a statement.

As it turns out, “absolutely” isn’t so absolute.