Politico Pro: Ayotte finds her way to cool kids’ table
Truman Fellow Darren Goode appears in Politico Pro for his peace on Kelly Ayotte
There’s a generational and gender change afoot in the Senate Hawks Club: Joe Lieberman’s out and Kelly Ayotte’s in.
The 44-year-old New Hampshire freshman has found her way to the cool kids’ table on the Armed Services Committee, huddling often with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
The three have hit the road on a national tour to rally opposition to planned Pentagon cuts of $55 billion next year, and Ayotte has echoed calls from McCain and Graham for a “balanced” approach to budgeting that spares the Defense Department by raising revenue and cutting other programs. They also traveled to New Mexico to support former Rep. Heather Wilson’s campaign for a Senate seat.
For years, it was Lieberman, the 70-year-old Democrat-turned-independent from Connecticut, who was inseparable from McCain and Graham. McCain considered naming him to the ticket during the Arizonan’s 2008 presidential bid despite the fact that Lieberman was the Democrats’ 2000 vice presidential nominee. But Lieberman is retiring in January.
The informal club is losing the veneer of bipartisanship, but it’s gaining several new dimensions with Ayotte, who is the top-ranking Republican woman on the committee and a frequently deployed surrogate for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign.
“The amigos would certainly benefit from having a senorita as part of the group and would perhaps do a better job than I did at keeping those two rascals under control,” Lieberman joked to POLITICO.
She would benefit, too.