In the debate on Monday night against New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, the Democratic challenger for her Senate seat, Ayotte was asked if she would hold up Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as a role model for children.
After initially sidestepping and then hesitating, Ayotte said, "I — I think that certainly there are many role models that we have, and I believe that he can serve as president, so absolutely, I would do that."
The moderator then pressed Ayotte, a moderate Republican, on why she didn't endorse Trump for president if she considers him a role model.
Ayotte walked back the comments in a statement released after the debate.
"I misspoke tonight," she said. "While I would hope all of our children would aspire to be president, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have set a good example, and I wouldn't hold up either of them as role models for my kids."