Sen. Susan Collins said she represents a moderate and bipartisan approach to politics, citing as an example her work on the paycheck protection bill that has protected 250,000 state jobs. She also explained why she will not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee before the election.

“We need more people in Washington who represent a common sense, centrist approach to dealing with the problems of our country,” the Republican said. “I have demonstrated over the years that this is the approach I have followed, and it has borne great results for our state and country.”

She spoke with pride about her work in dealing with the 2013 government shutdown, intelligence reform following the 9/11 attacks, and more recently, her work to co-author the paycheck protection program to respond to the economic devastation caused by the pandemic.

She has served on the Senate since 1997.

“I have a proven record of accomplishment,” she said.

She noted she is in line to be the next chair of Senate Appropriations Committee, which is most powerful committee position in the senate, and added a Mainer has not held that position since 1932.

Collins cited the importance of fairness and consistency in her decision not to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court before the election.

Four years ago, when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia, Republicans in the Senate blocked the appointment, saying it was an election year and the next supreme court justice should be chosen by the next president.

Collins said that at the time she did not agree because it was in 2016, months away from the election.

“But my position did not prevail and a new standard was established that we should not confirm a supreme court justice in an election year,” she said.

Today, she said the case is more compelling because we’re only 40 days from the elections. She said that although 22 presidents have nominated justices in an election year, none dating back to 1932 were confirmed. The precedent was established long ago, but reestablished four years ago, she argued.

Collins added this is not about the person who was nominated.

She said normally, she would apply the same standards she has to all of the Supreme Court justices on which she has been called to vote. She said she has supported three of Obama’s picks because they met the criteria and two from President Trump.

“We should play by the same rules and be fair and consistent and follow the rules that were established just four years ago by the Republican majority,” she said.

The Senator said she does not support the continued politicization of the court, noting that the intent of the framers of the Constitution was that the judiciary would be above and apart and insulated from politics. She does not support expanding the size of the court.

“I’ve taken a very clear stand against expanding the court. I would do that regardless of which party is in control of the White House.”

She said her Democratic challenger Sara Gideon has not been that clear.

“I think packing the court is a terrible idea that would further the problem of making the court political,” Collins said.

On the question of serving as a moderate in the Republican party, she said, “I think we need more moderates in Washington, not fewer of us. I have always shown that I will support the president when I thought his policies were right, but I have not hesitated to oppose the president when I think his policies are wrong.”

She added, “The statistic that Sara used in the first debate on my percentage for voting with the president was completely wrong. She just apparently made a mistake there.”

Gideon supporters argue that Collins votes with Trump and the Republican Party most of the time and have pushed back on the often cited description of Collins as a moderate.

Collins listed examples of times she has agreed with the president and times that she has not.

She noted he was helpful in administering and approving the paycheck protection program and that she agrees with him on some tax issues.

“I supported a tax bill that reduced taxes for 90% of Maine’s taxpayers.”

Collins said she agrees with him on the need to bring manufacturing back from China to our country. During the pandemic, she said China and India have hoarded or withheld personal protective equipment and medicines respectively.

“We should have that manufacturing done in our country and not be dependent on other countries,” Collins said.

However, she said she has also voted to overturn Trump’s vetoes, voted to retain the Affordable Care Act and disagreed with him on the War Powers Act.

“I vote according to what I think is right,” she said.

She said the polarization of the national politics has been driven by far left and far right groups dominating the discussion, and this has been exacerbated by social media.

“They demand 100% compliance with 100% of their views 100% of the time. I’m never going to be like that,” she said.

In response to the pandemic, Collins said another round of paycheck protection is needed as a lifeline to businesses that cannot hold on including restaurants, inns, bed-and-breakfast businesses and small stores that rely on tourist dollars. She would like to see the second round help businesses that have seen a 35% revenue drop compared to the same month last year.

She also believes more aid is needed to for school systems and the post offices, which have had to make many accommodations and modifications to meet demands while staying safe during the pandemic. She calls for support directly to communities, bypassing state government, to keep firefighters, police, sanitation workers and public works crews doing their jobs.

Another priority is the need for more financing for testing, which she said is key to reopening the economy, schools and nursing homes. She is proud that labs in Maine can produce inexpensive, fast-acting tests and believes the federal government should pay for that.

On the issue of police force, she calls for a national registry of police who have been convicted or disciplined for excessive force so a record follows them when they try to move on to different jobs in other communities or states.

She advocates withholding federal grants from departments that do not take certain actions such as banning choke holds, except in cases of clear and pressing danger.

Collins stated clearly she does not support defunding the police and replacing them with social workers.

She said the vast majority of Maine police are incredibly brave and risk their lives for the public.

On the issue of climate change, she said she has done a lot of work and receives the highest rating from environmental groups of any Republican Senator. She has voted against Trump’s attempts to weaken or eliminate environmental regulations, she said.

She has also worked to help research on energy storage, which she says is the “Holy Grail” when it comes to storing energy from renewable solar and wind sources. She has also worked with the University of Maine to support off-shore wind development, which provided 2,600 students with paid internships.

“I see Maine as a potential leader in deep water offshore wind,” she said, though she added we have to work with fishing industry make this a good fit for the area.

The Senator also noted she has taken trips to both the arctic and Antarctica to work on policy dealing with climate change.

“Climate change is real and having an impact,” she said.

She criticized her opponent’s handling of the campaign.

“I have never had a campaign where there were more falsehoods spread about my record,” she said. She said the attacks on her integrity have been insulting and painful.

Collins said there are deep contrasts between herself, working every day and Sara Gideon, Maine’s Speaker of the House, who she criticized for recessing the Legislature in late March and not reconvening it.

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