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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Kelley Ayotte talks with Telegraph reporters and editors Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Kelley Ayotte talks with Telegraph reporters and editors Wednesday, September 1, 2010.
Thursday, September 2, 2010

Senate hopeful Ayotte favored Ariz.-type law on illegals

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last in an occasional series of stories based on meetings between The Telegraph editorial board and candidates for federal and state office prior to the upcoming primary elections.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte of Nashua said she would have pursued a state law like the one Arizona has to crack down on illegal immigration had local and state police here asked for one.

Ayotte came under criticism from GOP rivals because while she was attorney general, criminal trespassing cases against suspected illegal aliens in Hudson and New Ipswich got dismissed in 2005.

“On laws like that, I relied on the police, and if they had proposed such a law and thought that was necessary to address it, I would have supported them on it,” Ayotte said in an interview with The Telegraph editorial board Wednesday.

Both local police chiefs involved in this controversy endorsed Ayotte and praised her work on the issue.

Ayotte noted that while she was attorney general, she fought against legislation to prohibit local police from even working with federal authorities on cases of those in the country without proof of citizenship.

In the campaign, Ayotte endorsed the Arizona law but stressed that the federal government must take the lead to secure the country’s southern border and enforce existing federal laws.

Only after that point would Ayotte consider amending the U.S. Constitution to deny citizenship to children born to a parent who is not a citizen.

“If we have taken the steps we can take immediately and we have not addressed the problem fully, then I am open to looking at that part of the 14th Amendment,” Ayotte said.

If elected, Ayotte would work in the Senate to compel all federal agencies including the Pentagon to submit plans for how to cut spending 20 percent.

“Some agencies we may cut less, and some agencies we may cut more,” Ayotte said.

She would host town hall meetings of constituents to discuss proposed changes to the federal budget.

Ayotte favors a ban on congressional earmarks, a freeze on non-essential federal hiring and a sunset process to evaluate whether all federal programs should be allowed to continue.

Debate on the federal health care law convinced Ayotte to embrace an end to earmarks even though the senator she seeks to replace, Sen. Judd Gregg, a Republican, has authored dozens of them over the years.

“We have seen many examples of where the earmarking process has led to really currying favor and buying or selling votes,” Ayotte said.

As for entitlements, Ayotte supports reform of Social Security and Medicare and said any change in benefits should only affect younger workers.

“There is no one change that is going to solve this for us,” Ayotte said.

The only option that Ayotte ruled out would be to support converting Social Security system into privately managed retirement accounts.

“I do not support privatization of Social Security, but there should be a discussion of all of the options,” Ayotte said.

She has no specific proposal but supports cutting federal taxes on corporate income and capital gains from investments.

“We have the second highest corporate tax rate, and I would like to reduce it to be one of the most competitive tax rates in the world,” Ayotte said.

She opposed federal bailouts of troubled banks and automobile makers, calling the Obama stimulus package a “bailout for the states.”

Congress should repeal the stimulus plan and return any unspent money to the treasury, she said.

“I think we would have been economically in a better position without all this spending,” Ayotte said.

“I would rather there had been a payroll tax holiday than the spending from the stimulus.”

Ayotte maintained that the new federal law mandating all Americans get coverage would increase the deficit, raise premium costs for many and raise targeted taxes for firms like the 55 in New Hampshire that make medical devices.

“I don’t think it’s the proper role of government to mandate that people have to purchase insurance,” Ayotte said.

She supports federal law changes to allow insurance companies to sell coverage across state law and to place limits on damages from lawsuits for medical malpractice.

Those changes would help lower the cost of health care, she said.

Ayotte said the war in Iraq was worth the cost and loss of life because it was important not to let that country become a haven for terrorists and to work on creating a democratic government in the Middle East.

Her husband, Joe Daley, is a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard Reserves who served in Iraq.

“In my view, the action has been a success,” Ayotte said.

The mission in Afghanistan should be to prevent terrorists from running that country or using it or neighboring Pakistan as a staging area from which to launch attacks against the U.S. and its allies, she added.

“We have to constantly be monitoring what is happening, and there needs to be a constant reassessment,” said Ayotte, who opposed President Obama setting a timetable for withdrawal of US combat troops.

Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com.