Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) spoke with Fox News Radio’s Guy Benson about recent attacks on her from left wing groups calling her a ‘Trump Stooge.’ Senator Collins blasted the attacks as “Insulting” and “False”. Collins also responded by saying,
“I’ve got to tell you, I’ve never been more offended by attacks as I have been from the left in this campaign. And the idea that I lack integrity is so false. I always do what I think is right. My vote for Justice Kavanaugh’s an example of that. Even though I knew it was going to hurt me politically, and I knew it would mean more than $4 million would be given to my opponent’s campaign because of this crowd funding network that was set up that said if I voted against Justice Kavanaugh, they’d refund the money to the donors, if I voted for him, it would go to my opponent. To me, that’s an attempt to bribe me, and I won’t be intimidated. I’d also have to say that I thought it was very sexist. The idea that these two men control my votes is absurd, and it’s disproven by the facts. I’ve always done what I thought was right for Maine and for America regardless of who was president. And I couldn’t be the one who works most across the aisle, as documented by Georgetown University and the other groups as well, and be anybody’s Stooge. So it was insulting, it was untrue. And it’s not worthy of the kind of races that we should be running in America, where we should have vigorous debates on votes, on differing philosophies. And that’s what I’ve had in the past with my opponents. And I have had tough opponents in the past. In 2008, a six-term congressman who was elected on the same day I was and comes from an old Maine family, as I do, ran against me. He was – he’s a very smart individual, and we had very different philosophies, but it never degenerated into these totally false attacks that we’re seeing in Maine now that are financed by the far left. And boy, do they.”
Listen To The Full Interview Below:
FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS RADIO HOST: I am very pleased to welcome, for the first time into the program, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine. She’s up for reelection this year. And in some of my research, preparing for this interview, I found out that Senator Collins, now for seven consecutive years, has been ranked the most bipartisan member of the upper chamber in Congress, seven years in a row. And then this one blows my mind. She has never missed a roll call vote, ever. She has cast more than 7,300 consecutive votes, the longest perfect voting streak in the history of the Senate. Senator, welcome to the show. Glad to have you here.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): Thank you so much, Guy. You’ve certainly done your research. It’s great to join you.
BENSON: Well I — I’m thrilled to have you. I have to ask you about this. Have you never been like, sick? Or gone to a wedding or something? How do you do 7,300 in a row without missing one?
COLLINS: Well, it’s not easy. I’ve got to say that. I always return to Maine on Sundays rather than chancing Mondays, given bad weather or something else, or flight connections, to be sure that I’m there for the Monday afternoon vote. And I will admit that there was one time that I was pretty sick on the Senate floor, but I went in, didn’t expose anybody, and voted quickly and left. I guess I couldn’t do that nowadays, that we’re in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. But the closest I ever came was when a former Democratic leader misinformed a whole committee to try to get me to miss a vote —
COLLINS: — about a vote (ph) being held open.
BENSON: Oh, some subterfuge. But the last laugh was yours, you made it anyway. It’s like you’re the Cal Ripken, Jr. of Senate voting, basically.
BENSON: Senator — and that’s the last thing I’m going to say about baseball, because I’m a Yankees fan. I know you’re from Red Sox territory.
BENSON: So we’ll just move on. Let’s talk about Maine, and let’s talk about coronavirus relief. There’s this ongoing discussion on Capitol Hill. It seems, from the outside, to be extremely dysfunctional. Democrats have a plan that seems, frankly, to me, nuts; $3.4 trillion and all this ancillary nonsense. The Republicans, your party, all over the map. I don’t quite understand what the Republican’s actual position is. Where are you on this whole process? And what’s the urgency for Maine, in your mind, whether unemployment insurance is the issue, or PPP renewal? Because I know you were instrumental in passing the first round of PPP.
COLLINS: That’s right. And extending the PPP program, which expires on Saturday, regrettably, and also giving it a second round of PPP loans — which stands for Paycheck Protection Program, and it’s intended to help our small businesses stay afloat so that they can retain, recall, or keep connected to their employees by sending them paychecks, so that as our economy reopens and rebounds, that bond between employer and employee is not broken. We want to allow those small businesses that have had a PPP loan but are still in really tough shape, for example, a lot of restaurants, a lot of small businesses in the hospitality industry are still hurting. To get a second PPP loan, to be able to pay their employees and use it for expenses to comply with the CDC guidelines; say if it’s a restaurant and they need to establish outside dining or buy masks or a new HVAC system, to keep all their customers and their employees safe; we would allow those expenses to come out of the PPP forgivable loan. But this has been a tremendously successful program. We would require that these businesses show that they’ve had a 35 percent revenue loss in order to qualify for a second loan and have 300 or fewer employees. But — so that is a real high priority for me. The House bill was always dead on arrival. It was not only $3.4 trillion, more than all the previous bills added to together, but it has some completely unrelated provisions that were added to it. It really was a Democratic wish list, and I think it would be better if the House Democrats were more realistic about this and focused on what we really need to do in terms of helping schools, helping with more testing, providing funding for PPP — though we’ve got some leftover funds we can use as well — and making sure that we’re doing things to help improve the health of our people and the health of our economy.
BENSON: Are you confident that there’s going to be some resolution to this? Because right now it sounds like Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are saying, you’ve got to go with the House bill — which you just said was dead on arrival. This is sort of their red line, at least for the moment. And it seems like Leader McConnell has his plan. There’s dissent from the right within your caucus. There are people to McConnell’s left within the Republican caucus, like yourself, that may have other priorities. Do you feel like Washington’s all arguing and negotiating and pointing fingers? As you said, there are people hurting out there — businesses, individuals who are unemployed, they are curious about what kind of support they’re going to get. The clock is ticking for those people. Do you think, even in this tough election year, something will get done and could we hope it would be soon-ish?
COLLINS: I do. And I think that if we cannot come together, Congress cannot come together in the midst of a persistent pandemic and compromise and find common ground, it would be such a disservice to the American people. In the end I think that is what will happen. We’re going to remain in session next week, and — although I don’t know why they’re waiting until five o’clock — there’s another meeting with the White House and Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi at 5:00 today to continue working through issues. But you’re right, the clock is ticking. Schools are starting to make decisions about whether or not to go back full time or do a hybrid system with remote learning for some people. I visited just — a smaller school system in Maine, and they estimate additional costs are between $500,000 and $1 million. So they can’t afford that, and they need federal help. And I know that an awful lot of parents are very eager for their children to be back in school. The American Academy of Pediatricians has warned, not only about losing academic skills, but also about the emotional and mental wellbeing of these students, if they’re not in school. So I realize that in some communities that’s not going to be possible because they’re hot spots, but it’s my hope that as many schools as can safely open will do so.
BENSON: You talked about working together, and frankly, thinking about these issues in a way that are not reflectively partisan, ways that are not reflectively (ph) partisan, that is a transition into my next question. It’s no secret that there’s a big race in Maine. You are having, in some respects, the race of your life. A lot of forces outside the state and within the state are coming after you hard. The Democrats are pouring lots of money into your race. And I did see one attack on you recently from this left wing group where you are labeled a Trump Stooge. They say you’re not an independent, you’re a fraud, that Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump quote “Control your voice.” And I have to say, Senator, I am certainly, I would say, more conservative than you are. And sometimes your votes have frustrated me over the years. But to say that you aren’t independent, as literally the most bipartisan senator in the upper chamber of Congress, I think that that’s an unusual attempt to attack you. And to use a word like fraud and to suggest that you are controlled by men, I just wonder how you react to attacks from the left like that?
COLLINS: I’ve got to tell you, I’ve never been more offended by attacks as I have been from the left in this campaign. And the idea that I lack integrity is so false. I always do what I think is right. My vote for Justice Kavanaugh’s an example of that. Even though I knew it was going to hurt me politically, and I knew it would mean more than $4 million would be given to my opponent’s campaign because of this crowd funding network that was set up that said if I voted against Justice Kavanaugh, they’d refund the money to the donors, if I voted for him, it would go to my opponent. To me, that’s an attempt to bribe me, and I won’t be intimidated. I’d also have to say that I thought it was very sexist. The idea that these two men control my votes is absurd, and it’s disproven by the facts. I’ve always done what I thought was right for Maine and for America regardless of who was president. And I couldn’t be the one who works most across the aisle, as documented by Georgetown University and the other groups as well, and be anybody’s Stooge. So it was insulting, it was untrue. And it’s not worthy of the kind of races that we should be running in America, where we should have vigorous debates on votes, on differing philosophies. And that’s what I’ve had in the past with my opponents. And I have had tough opponents in the past. In 2008, a six-term congressman who was elected on the same day I was and comes from an old Maine family, as I do, ran against me. He was – he’s a very smart individual, and we had very different philosophies, but it never degenerated into these totally false attacks that we’re seeing in Maine now that are financed by the far left. And boy, do they —
COLLINS: — have a lot of money.
BENSON: A lot of money and also there were threats. There were actual physical threats against you during the Kavanaugh mess. And I do find it disingenuous, Senator, that some of these people are saying, oh, she’s not a true independent, just in my own editorial opinion, doing some research on your current opponent, she’s a down the line liberal. I mean if they want an independent, they’re not going to get one in her. If you just want a liberal Democrat you can say so, but don’t pretend that you care about independence, because if you do, in my opinion, there’s – and not just my opinion — the data that you just rehearsed shows that you are the most independent Republican in all of the Senate. You mentioned your vote in favor of Justice Kavanaugh. You have voted in favor of all six Supreme Court nominees that have come to the Senate floor during your time as a senator, from presidents of both parties. You are in the 95 to 99 percent range of voting to confirm judges appointed across from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama to Donald Trump. The whole range has been 94 to 98, 99 percent. To me, it — and by the way, as an aside — you also voted to acquit President Clinton on impeachment —
COLLINS: Well that (ph) — yes.
BENSON: Right? On those —
BENSON: — two Articles of Impeachment. To me, that sounds like consistency.
COLLINS: It is. I haven’t changed despite the attempts of my opponent to say that I have. And the irony is that she is a down the line — adherent to whatever Chuck Schumer tells her to believe in. And this is really all about his quest for power. It’s not that he wants to accomplish policy objectives. It’s that he wants to be the majority leader of the Senate. And that’s why he has poured more money into Maine than any other state, from his Super PAC, because he sees Maine as being pivotal —
COLLINS: — to Republican control of the Senate, and it is. I’m the last remaining Republican in either the House or the Senate in all of New England. And when I started out there were 19 of us. And it’s not good for the country for it to be so (inaudible).
BENSON: Yeah, it’s an endangered species up there in New England. And look, I think, on the merit, it’s ludicrous to call you — or smear you, frankly — as a Stooge for anyone. They call you a Trump Stooge. I am curious — he will be on the ballot with you in Maine in November. Overall, what do you think of Trump’s presidency? Do you think he’s been a good president? Do you think he deserves another term?
COLLINS: I like some of the president’s policies. For example, I agreed with him on tax policies. That’s another big contrast with my opponent. She wants to raise taxes. I think we pay plenty of taxes, and I supported the tax bill. I wish the president would not tweet so much, and I wish that his style were more presidential, if you will. I was – I am a friend of Jeff Sessions, and I did not like that he was so hard on Jeff Sessions for doing what Jeff thought was the right thing to do. So it’s mixed for me on some issues. Some I’m with the president. I think his harder line toward China is right. On others I disagree with him. So it’s mixed.
BENSON: Do — on balance, do you think he deserves a second term?
COLLINS: Well, I’ve tried to stay out of presidential politics so that I can concentrate on my own race. But I’ll tell you this. What I don’t want to see is the House, the Senate, and the presidency all controlled by the Democrats —
COLLINS: — because if that happens, we will see legislation rammed through the Senate because they’ll do away with the filibuster rule, which helps to protect the rights of the minority —
COLLINS: — and ensure that there’s consensus on major bills. And it will change our country in fundamental ways. And that I do not want to see happen.
BENSON: You know, Senator, I’ve been talking a lot actually about that filibuster issue and some of the threats that the Democrats in the Senate are already making, sort of in anticipation of winning back the majority. I think it is definitely quite concerning, for reasons that you’ve touched on. I would love to delve into those further, but we’re out of time for now. We would love to have you back at some point if you’re willing. It’s Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. She’s up for reelection this year in a real dog fight up there. And Senator, we’re just grateful that you had some time for us today.
COLLINS: Thank you so much, Guy. It’s wonderful being on your show.
BENSON: Appreciate that.