Voters everywhere prefer authenticity in their political candidates, and New Hampshire Republicans are no exception.

That’s why they’ve gravitated to Donald Trump. Despite an established track record as a congenital liar, Trump expertly conveys authenticity through his body language (palms open, fingers splayed, arms spread wide, chest thrust forward) and his willingness to say whatever he’s thinking, even when it’s utter b.s.

Newly-minted New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Kelly Ayotte, in a pitiful attempt to please the GOP primary base with some trumped-up authenticity of her own, came oozing out of the box last week with a flurry of attacks on Massachusetts and, when called out for it, on alleged purveyors of “fake news,” including yours truly.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen drugs, the fentanyl being trafficked off our southern border from Lowell and Lawrence, Mass. into our cities, and it’s killing our citizens,” she told the Fox News morning crew.

This recycling of a tired applause line once used by Gov. Chris Sununu (before he began working collaboratively with Massachusetts officials to attack drug trafficking) and echoed by race-baiters like Trump and former Maine Gov. Paul LePage isn’t about “stating the truth,” as Ayotte put it in a dyspeptic tweet. Drugs flow freely over all borders, not just the one with Massachusetts. And the feds have documented plenty of homegrown illegal drug labs in New Hampshire, including in Nashua, Ayotte’s hometown.

As University of New Hampshire political scientist Dante Scala noted in a WBZ interview, “a lot of New Hampshire voters see Lowell, Lawrence as a place where the racial composition is much different, and that is kind of like an alien culture.” And if Ayotte’s intent was to tweet away the notion that – in her own words – she’s “racist,” that was undercut by a subsequent flurry of retweets of photographs of non-white drug-dealing suspects.

Bad tell. Ayotte should stay out of Nashua’s Boston Billiard Club poker room.

But that’s a sidebar. What Ayotte’s sad Trump impersonation and media-baiting really speak to is how desperate she is to make the primary electorate forget about her rich history of Trump-bashing.

When Trump disparaged the late Sen. John McCain early in his first presidential campaign, Ayotte called his remarks “offensive” and demanded he apologize to McCain and all veterans. When he claimed a Muslim judge might show bias toward him based on ethnic and religious solidarity, Ayotte said that was “offensive and wrong.” After Trump dumped on a Gold Star family, she was “appalled” and accused him of unmitigated “gall.”

And down the stretch of the 2016 race when Trump was reeling from the disclosure of his crude extra-marital courting rituals, Ayotte pounced: “I cannot vote for Donald Trump based on what he has said and done and the actions he talked about in those tapes. And I want my daughter to know that. That is more important to me than winning any election.”

No, it isn’t. Seven years later, Trump is cruising to renomination, and Ayotte knows she cannot win her primary next year if Trump-lovers perceive her as anything less than deferential to their idol. So she’s hitting the right-wing playlist as hard as she can, and jumping at the chance to spin their favorite media-bashing tunes.

“Fake news”? Try fake candidate.

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Jon Keller has been reporting and commenting on local politics since 1978. A graduate of Brandeis University, he worked in radio as a producer and talk-show host before moving into print journalism at The Tab newspapers and the Boston Phoenix. Freelance credits include the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Boston Magazine, the New Republic and the Washington Post. Since 1991 his "Keller At Large" commentaries and interviews have been a fixture on Boston TV, first on WLVI-TV and, since 2005, on WBZ-TV. He is a 12-time Emmy Award winner for political reporting and commentary. He began his Massterlist column in March 2020.