Kelly Ayotte lays down her marker in advance of Tampa talk on looming defense cuts

Some might accuse Ayotte and her fellow Republicans of having it both ways when it comes to complaining about these looming defense budget cuts.

That's because it was an insurgent group of Tea Party led Republicans last summer who were refusing to vote to support raising the country's debt ceiling, possibly putting the country's credit rating into default. Lawmakers then authorized a bipartisan committee to find ways to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit over the next 10 years, but the panel was unable to reach an agreement. That meant that sequestration, or automatic cuts, would then happen at the end of 2012 if Congress doesn’t find other places to trim. That includes $500 billion in defense.

Ayotte said Sunday that it's time for President Obama to come off the campaign trail and get involved in this discussion right now, saying, "Where's our commander in chief on this?" she said. "Why isn't he right now at the table with members of both sides of the aisle resolving this? He could lead this effort and he has been A.W.O.L. on this."

Although Ayotte did not vote for sequestration last year, plenty of her GOP colleagues did. Recently Politico reported that many of those Republicans now have second thoughts about their vote, though only a few are expressing outright regrets.

Maine's Susan Collins said this recently:

“I was assured by leadership that when I agreed to vote for the Budget Control Act — which I did to prevent our country from defaulting on its obligations — that sequestration would never happen, that it was such a dire remedy that it would force the supercommittee to act, and obviously that proved not to be true,” Collins said. “Whether I would have voted the same way now, who knows, but I was very concerned about preventing a default.”

Arizona GOP Senator Jon Kyle blames the Democrats outright for sequestration, even though there were a handful of his friends in the Senate who voted for it, as well as 174 Republicans in the House.

“I knew how difficult sequestration would be, and I ended up supporting the overall budget deaI. I couldn’t conceive of people being so pig-headed, so stubborn, so willing to see our economy go up in flames as apparently our Democratic friends are willing to be. I knew it would be political, but I didn’t think they would literally shoot the hostage.”

Ayotte will be joined by Senators John McCain and Lindsey in Graham in Tampa on Monday.

New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte comes to Tampa Monday morning in the first of a multi (battleground) state tour to denounce looming defense cuts - defense cuts that many of her GOP colleagues in Congress supported last year as a way to get a deal on raising the debt ceiling.

Ayotte previewed what she'll be talking about at CAMLS in Tampa while speaking Sunday morning on CNN's State of The Union with host Candy Crowley:

"It makes me sick that some in Washington — particularly some of the Senate Democrats — want to play, and even our president, unfortunately, want to use our military as a bargaining chip," the New Hampshire Republican said.

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