When Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) retires from the upper chamber he will leave behind a gap in the “three amigos” on foreign policy, as he and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have been dubbed. The three senators traveled the world together for over a decade and were always at the table for foreign policy debates. Through bipartisan measures, these three senators have championed wars and solutions for global humanitarian crises.
It seems that a trio will remain intact even as one member bows out. Lieberman has found a successor in Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R).
Ayotte is the junior senator from New Hampshire. She was elected in 2010 and received wide support from high-profile Republicans who can to campaign with her including Sarah Palin, McCain, Gov. Mitt Romney, Gov. Haley Barbour, and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa). Ayotte was an important victory for the Republicans in New England as well as adding another conservative female voice to the Senate floor.
Before running for the Senate, Ayotte served as the New Hampshire attorney general for five years. Before that, she was a prosecutor.
In her first two years as a senator her largest contribution was leading the fight for an amendment revoking President Obama’s 2009 executive order restricting American interrogators to the techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual.
“When a member of al-Qaeda or a similar associated terrorist group is captured, I want to them to be terrified about what’s going to happen to them in American custody,” said Lieberman, explaining his support for the amendment. “I want them not to know what’s going to happen, I want that the terror that they inflict on others to be felt by them as a result of the uncertainty that they can look on the Internet and know exactly what our interrogators are limited to.”
The amendment did not ultimately make it into the defense spending bill, but Ayotte emerged as a voice supportive of a strong military, national security priorities, and firm foreign policy.
Although still a freshman senator, she has made her voice heard on many important foreign policy issues and worked her way into the three amigos’ tight group.
The three traveled the country together this past summer as well as made a trip to east Asia. On Nov. 27 at the Foreign Policy Initiative, Lieberman and Ayotte appeared together to talk about “the past and future of foreign policy in the Senate.”
Then when it came time for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to answer congressional questions about the attack in Benghazi, Libya, it was McCain, Graham, and Ayotte who met with her in closed room.
After her meeting with Rice, Ayotte told journalists, “I actually came out more troubled than when I went in.”
“If Rice were to be President Obama’s nomination for Secretary of State, there will be a hold,” Ayotte said. “We should hold until we get information, sufficient information.” Last week, Rice withdrew her name from consideration for the post.
Ayotte is about to enter into a new Congress, possibly as the face of future conservative foreign policy. Last week she presented many of her foreign policy ideas, concerns, and criticisms at the American Enterprise Institute.
Ayotte opened cautioning that we have many threats facing the United States yet the Department of Defense is being asked to make significant budget cuts. The senator outlined what some of these reductions would look like including a significantly reduced Navy fleet. “The numbers speak, and message they send is a bad one for American security,” she said.