Huffington Post: Ayotte rebuffed Rubio on immigration

Huffington Post confirms Sen. Kelly Ayotte undercut efforts by Sen. Marco Rubio to beef up border security measures in the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill. The story validates analysis by WMUR’s James Pindell who called Ayotte’s actions a “political fumble" by a rookie politician.

Ayotte’s announcement that she plans to vote in favor of the immigration overhaul weakens Rubio’s hand at the bargaining table as he attempts to make the bill more palatable for conservatives.

Citing three sources, Huffington Post writers Elise Foley and Sam Stein describe a private conversation between the two senators in which presidential hopeful Rubio asked Ayotte to hold back before announcing her position in favor of the bill:

Rubio had privately urged fellow Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) to remain quiet about her support for immigration reform, in hopes that Senate negotiators would amend the bill’s border security measures to win her vote, according to three sources, including one Republican Senate aide. …

Rubio “has not been telling them to vote no,” said one Senate Democratic aide familiar with negotiations. “He has been apparently holding people back from declaring support for the bill, while at the same time saying the bill needs changes in order to garner support. My understanding is he told Sen. Ayotte’s office to hold back, but she didn’t care.” …

A spokesman for Ayotte flatly denied that such a conversation took place. A spokesman for Rubio said he could not confirm the anecdote.

Ayotte apparent rebuff of Rubio’s request came just days after he came to her defense with a six-figure ad buy when she faced withering criticism over her opposition to expanded background checks for gun purchases.