Mitt Romney, the former presidential nominee and oft-critic of Donald Trump, will headline a fundraiser for New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte on Friday night, a Romney aide confirmed.
The fundraiser, first reported by WMUR, comes amid ongoing tension between Ayotte and Trump, the brash and controversial presidential nominee. Ayotte, a Republican in a tight reelection race against Gov. Maggie Hassan, has said she supports Trump but is not endorsing him.
Yet she has also criticized Trump in fairly harsh terms for his attacks on the Muslim family of an American soldier killed in Iraq, saying she was “appalled” by Trump’s comments.
I call it like I see it and I'm always going to stand up for our military families and what's best for the people of New Hampshire.
— Kelly Ayotte (@KellyAyotte) August 2, 2016
Trump, in response, set off a small firestorm by ripping Ayotte for what he said was “zero support” from her in an interview with The Washington Post.
“I don’t know Kelly Ayotte. I know she’s given me no support — zero support — and yet I’m leading her in the polls. I’m doing very well in New Hampshire,” Trump said.
Recent polls have shown that to be a questionable assertion. According to the RealClearPolitics average of New Hampshire polls, Hillary Clinton leads Trump by seven percentage points, while Ayotte and Hassan are separated by just one point.
In any case, adding Romney to an Ayotte fundraiser could exacerbate those tensions with Trump. Romney has firmly slammed Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud,” but, unlike Ayotte, he has said he will not support him for president.
In an interview with NH1, Ayotte said their difference of opinion on Trump did not complicate the fundraiser.
“I have great respect for Mitt and Anne Romney and certainly have gotten to know them well as friends and I’m really glad to have their support,” Ayotte said. “And so they’re having an event for me because they very much support me. And I’m glad to have it. They’re wonderful people and I’m looking forward to see them.”