Few Republican candidates have been flummoxed more by Donald Trump's presence at the top of the ticket than Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.
Running for a second term against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, Ayotte has the party's presidential nominee wrapped around her neck. Hassan, by contrast, has Michelle Obama, the country's most popular political figure, by her side. At a rally last week, Hassan introduced the first lady, who delivered one of the most powerful speeches of this election, excoriating Trump as a force for evil, whose candidacy, behavior and rhetoric had "shaken me to my core."
Ayotte, a former attorney general, prosecutor and solid legislator has a core, but it's been shaken by wanting to win so much that she coddled Trump. All summer, the senator contorted herself into the twisted stance that she would support, but not endorse, him. Then, in a debate, she gave a rambling answer about whether Trump was a good role model, concluding "I think that certainly there are many role models that we have and I believe he can serve as president, and so absolutely I would do that."