Interview: Kelly Ayotte

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Byline: Lloyd Grove

The conservative junior senator from New Hampshire, dubbed the "Granite Grizzly" by Sarah Palin, explains why her two young children are more mature than her grown-up colleagues.

Why is New Hampshire a better predictor than Iowa of who the Republican nominee will be?

As our former governor John Sununu always says, Iowa picks corn and New Hampshire picks presidents. I don't understand the caucus system, but our open primary seems a much better measure of who has the strongest appeal to the Republican Party.

You endorsed Mitt Romney. So why isn't he a flip-flopper who takes positions for political expediency?

I look at how someone has lived his life. He has solid core principles that he lives his life by. I recently spent a day and a half on the bus with him and Ann, and they live their lives in a conservative way--in the way they raised their family and the way they conduct themselves.

You voted for the Senate compromise to extend the payroll-tax cut, but Tea Party members in the House nearly killed the deal. Do you think there will be a negative impact on the presidential race and other campaigns? …