PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Mitt Romney continued to publicly audition with potential vice presidential running mates on Monday, stopping by a fishing pier with New Hampshire’s junior senator, Kelly Ayotte.
Downplaying her interest in the role, Ayotte said her focus was squarely on working on behalf of her state and doing her part to help Romney win the White House in November. “I’ll do whatever the campaign wants me to do to help make sure that we win in November,” she said.
(PICTURES: Romney on the Trail With Possible VP Picks)
But ex-New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a longtime Romney supporter, called Ayotte was a “strong candidate” for the vice presidential slot, citing her positions on cutting spending and lowering taxes in addition to her reputations as a hard campaigner.
At the same time, though, he pointed out that being from New Hampshire could work against Ayotte. “You’ve got to recognize that it may be a negative if both candidates are from the same region,” Sununu told reporters.
Asked if he knew anything about the status of the vice presidential search, the former chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush said with a laugh, “I know that the bowl has about 19 or 20 little pieces of folded paper in it, and they keep shaking the bowl.”
Ayotte had been a fixture at Romney’s side when he campaigned throughout the state leading up to its Jan. 10 primary, which he won handily. She was one of his earliest backers among elected officials.
The first female attorney general in New Hampshire history, she prosecuted several high-profile murder cases and won plaudits from Republicans and Democrats alike, including Democratic Gov. John Lynch. She campaigned for the Senate on a fiscally conservative platform and beat a Democratic incumbent for the seat vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Judd Gregg by a whopping 23-point margin.