Some GOP leaders are pushing for Donald Trump to pick a woman as his running mate in the hopes that a female presence will help quiet worries about the billionaire-turned-politician's treatment of women. One name thrown around was Kelly Ayotte, a junior GOP senator from New Hampshire, who isn't exactly on Team Trump, but could get behind the presumptive nominee before the convention in July. Since she's a possible VP pick, let's take a look at Senator Ayotte's record on women's rights to see how much she would actually help Trump with women.
Back in August, Trump confirmed that he'd be open to running alongside a woman if the circumstances were right, telling Concord, New Hampshire radio station WKXL: "I think the concept of a woman as vice president is absolutely great." The presidential candidate has met Ayotte multiple times and called her "tremendous" and "a terrific woman" in the same interview last year. However, the senator refuses to endorse Trump, only mildly supporting him because he's now the presumptive nominee. "As she’s said from the beginning, Kelly plans to support the nominee," her communications director, Liz Johnson, told The Union Leader.
If she were to become Trump's running mate, Ayotte wouldn't improve the ticket's appeal to women since her record doesn't back up her claims on even the most basic women's issues. Here's where she stands on the big ones.
Simply put, Ayotte's not a fan of Planned Parenthood. She voted for the Senate to take up legislation last year that would have defunded the health organization, though she wasn't willing to go as far as other Senate Republicans, and bashed threats to shut down the government over the Planned Parenthood issue when it was clearly a losing battle.
A decade ago, she was involved in a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood while the New Hampshire attorney general, fittingly named Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The organization filed a complaint against the state's law requiring parents be notified when minors sought an abortion. Ayotte took over the case from her predecessor and after the Supreme Court returned the case to a lower court in 2006, the law was repealed.
As you might have guessed by her opposition to Planned Parenthood, Ayotte is pro-life and even has a 100 percent rating from National Right to Life. She voted in favor of both the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that would have banned abortion at 20 weeks and the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act that would have forbidden minors to cross state lines to have abortions.
Women's Health Care
Kelly's Senate campaign website says she is "fighting for more access to mammograms, leading the charge for safe, reliable over-the-counter birth control, and making sure we devote more dollars to breast and ovarian cancer research." However, she voted for multiple bills aimed at defunding or repealing Obamacare, which has decreased out-of-pocket spending on birth control by 50 percent, saving American women about $1.4 billion per year.
As a mother to two kids who commutes from New Hampshire to Washington D.C., Ayotte understands the problems many working moms face. Her website says she's committed to expanding affordable childcare, ensuring employers offer parents flex-time, and stopping discrimination against pregnant workers. This is one benefit she would actually bring to the GOP presidential ticket, if her record backed it up. In 2011, she voted for an appropriations bill that would have cut more than $1 billion from the Head Start program and $39 million from child care, causing 368,000 children to lose early learning support.
Gender Wage Gap
The other issue Ayotte would potentially help Trump on is the gender wage gap. She had to fight her way into the boys club known as the U.S. Senate and therefore understands the position female employees are often put in. While her campaign website says she's "leading common sense efforts to ensure women and men receive equal pay for equal work," Ayotte repeatedly voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act. She defended her actions by claiming there are enough existing laws prohibiting gender discrimination, saying at a town hall in 2013: "The reason that I voted against that specific bill is that, I looked at it, and there were already existing laws that need to be enforced."
Aside from simply being a woman, Ayotte wouldn't help Trump win over female voters much.