This week, Ayotte was everywhere expressing concern at the possibility that Rice could be nominated to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. Those concerns were not being taken lightly as Ayotte has emerged as a newly influential voice in a party that does not have many like hers and desperately needs them. …

At 44, Ayotte is a fresh face in a party that has lagged behind in advancing women into its most powerful positions and in making a convincing case to many female voters. Ayotte (pronounced AY-aht) infuses new blood into the GOP national security brain trust in the Senate led by Graham and McCain.

It is an unusual role for a first-term senator, particularly one who arrived in Washington without a national profile. But Ayotte has been tapped repeatedly by the GOP to carry the party’s message. …

Ayotte’s name is regularly included on long lists of Republicans who might run for president in 2016. She laughed off that speculation. “I don’t know where they get that,” she said.