First on CNN: GOP group runs first Senate ad calling for check and balance on White House

Story highlights

  • A new poll has Kelly Ayotte trailing badly behind her Democratic challenger, Maggie Hassan
  • Ayotte has struggled with Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket

Washington (CNN)A key GOP interest group is set to run a new television ad calling on New Hampshire voters to re-elect their Republican senator as a check and balance for the White House.

The ad from the US Chamber of Commerce does not explicitly say the group believes Hillary Clinton will be president, but the intent is to make clear to voters that possibility is very real.
    "America's future is far from certain," the narrator says over a picture of an empty presidential debate stage, followed by one of the White House.
    "But no matter who the president is, New Hampshire needs a strong voice in the US Senate," the ad continues, declaring that incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte works across the aisle to get things done.
    The ad reflects a growing sense among the establishment wing of the party that the White House is increasingly out of reach for its nominee, Donald Trump. Many Republicans are now shifting their focus to Capitol Hill, where the GOP's control of the Senate is on the line. Even the House, long seen as safely in Republican hands, could also be in play.
    A source with the Chamber tells CNN that the group chose to air this kind of ad in New Hampshire first because it is the "most needed," but noted there could be others to follow elsewhere to help Republicans fighting to maintain control of the Senate -- a cause even more dire as GOP hopes for winning the White House fade.
    The hope is that this ad -- the first of its kind -- sends a signal to GOP downballot candidates and other Republican groups that it is time to realize Trump will not win and the focus should be on saving the GOP Senate majority.
    The ad, set to launch this week, comes as a new WMUR New Hampshire poll shows Ayotte trailing her Democratic challenger Maggie Hassan, the state's governor, by 8%. That same poll has Clinton beating Donald Trump by 15 points in the Granite State -- a battleground where Trump has been competing hard.
    Of all the endangered GOP senators this election year, Ayotte has seemed to struggle the most with Trump at the top of the Republican ticket. She stumbled on a debate question earlier this month about whether she believes Trump is a good role model by saying yes, then coming out quickly the next day to say she misspoke.