Senate nominee Kelly Ayotte of Nashua, if elected, vowed to push for a full-service veteran's hospital for New Hampshire and a more assertive foreign policy.
Ayotte campaigned at a Nashua Veterans of Foreign War Post hall Saturday morning with 2008 presidential nominee John McCain before a crowd of about 150 supporters.
She drew the biggest applause for an assault on President Obama's foreign diplomacy.
"Our national leaders need to stop apologizing for the United States of America," Ayotte said.
Two-time New Hampshire presidential primary winner McCain said Ayotte would be an "instant star" and an able replacement to retiring Republican Sen. Judd Gregg.
"This administration is governing from the far left in a country that is right of center and no state embodies that better than New Hampshire," McCain said. "That's why this great leader is going to be an instant star in the U.S. Senate."
Paul Gagne, 39, of Plaistow, is a U.S. Navy reservist who deploys to Afghanistan in a month. Gagne also served a tour in Iraq two years ago.
Gagne said he's more concerned about China's military buildup than he is about the economic threat from Asia.
"We buy their toys, toasters and shoes they buy weapons to sink our carriers," Gagne said. "I am worried about that. We need to build the national defense to what it was under Ronald Reagan."
Ayotte said the U.S. must reduce its deficit as it owes $1 trillion in debt to China,
"If we continue to be beholden to New Hampshire, how can we stand up to them," Ayotte said. "If you are dealing with bullies around the world, the only thing they understand is strength. The policy of appeasement around the world is not the right policy."
McCain said the U.S. must confront China over its currency policy.
"They are flexing their muscles," McCain said. "We had hoped very much as China improved economically they would mature as a positive member of the community of nations. That is not the case."
Ayotte's push for a veteran's hospital is a personal one as her husband Joe Daley is an Iraq War veteran and lieutenant colonel in the National Guard reserves.
"It is nothing short of an outrage that New Hampshire is effectively the only state in the nation without a full-service, dedicated veterans hospital," Ayotte said. "If I have the privilege of serving you in the U.S. Senate, I will fight tirelessly to right that wrong.
Linda Twombly of Nashua choked up while telling McCain and Ayotte that her Medicare Advantage health insurance plan will end Dec. 31 forcing her to change plans. Her husband Jim is retired from BAE Systems.
McCain said 330,000 in his state are on the Medicare Advantage plan that is being phased out as part of Obama's national health care law.
"The president of the United States did not tell the truth to the American people that if you liked your health care plan, you can keep it," McCain said. "That just is patently false."
McCain is not prone to expressing optimism but the Arizona senator couldn't disguise it Saturday.
"I promise you, we will repeal and replace Obama care as one of the first items we have on our agenda," McCain said.
Ayotte parroted her new television commercial in attacking the allegiance of Democratic rival Paul Hodes to his party as a two-term congressman.
"Paul Hodes, he is supposed to represent Nashua, New Hampshire, and the rest of us. Yet, in Congress, he voted with Nancy Pelosi 94 percent of the time; 94 percent too often if you asked me," Ayotte said. "Let me be clear. I will vote with New Hampshire and the United States of America 100 percent of the time."
The New Hampshire Democratic Party hosted two waffle breakfasts Saturday in Manchester and Nashua to highlight claims that McCain and Ayotte embraced right-wing views to get ahead in 2010.
"In their struggle to get through competitive Republican primaries, both McCain and Ayotte waffled on every major issue facing voters this cycle - from immigration and health care to the stimulus and global warming," said Emily Browne, press secretary for New Hampshire Democrats. "They proved themselves more interested in chasing after Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin's approval than in being honest advocates for the people they represent."
Ayotte and McCain continued campaigning later Saturday at a barbecue in North Hampton.
Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 321-7040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.