President Donald Trump has a full Friday in Maine, but the senior Republican senator who has yet to publicly say if she’ll back his reelection bid won’t be there.
Sen. Susan Collins will not join Trump at a trip in her state Friday when Trump participates in a roundtable with commercial fisherman in Bangor and then heads to a medical equipment manufacturer, Puritan Medical Products, in Guilford. Demonstrators are expected to protest Trump’s trip in Bangor.
“Sen. Collins will be in Washington Friday and has several federal, and non-federal, events on her schedule,” according to campaign spokesman Kevin Kelley. “She actually just visited Puritan Medical Products in just last month and she is proud of the work they are doing to combat COVID-19.”
Collins has had to navigate a difficult balancing act with Trump, who will be competing in the state this fall given that the state splits its electoral votes. Collins needs the backing of both Trump supporters and detractors to win in the Democratic-leaning state. She’s expected to face Democrat Sara Gideon in November.
On Friday, Collins’ office would not reveal if she is backing Trump’s reelection bid, a day after Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she was “struggling” with whether to support Trump in 2020, something that prompted the President to attack the Alaska senator.
“Our country is facing a confluence of the worse pandemic hitting our country in a century, an economic depression and a killing that laid bare the racial injustice that still taints our country,” said Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for Collins. “Right now, Sen. Collins is focused on doing her job.”
One of the events Collins is participating in on Friday: A virtual fundraiser with Senate Majority Whip John Thune to benefit her campaign, according to a copy of the invite obtained by CNN. Political action committees that want to sponsor the event are asked to pay $5,000, while individuals are asked to donate up to $2,800. Participants are asked to pay $1,000 to attend, the invites says.
The campaign confirmed the fundraiser is one of the events Collins is participating in Friday.
The senator later tweeted that she attended a Friday morning meeting hosted by the bipartisan group No Labels, saying Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat, “spoke eloquently to us on the need for cultural changes & possible legislative remedies for racial injustice.”
Collins, who didn’t support Trump in 2016, has declined to say whether she voted for Trump in the March primary in her state. When asked by CNN at the time if she voted for Trump, she said: “I already answered that question.”
Collins was referring to comments she made just days earlier to WCSH in Portland, Maine. In that interview, she didn’t say if she voted for Trump.
“I have voted by absentee ballot, just to make sure that I voted,” Collins told the station. “And I would note that it’s on the Democratic side that there are eight candidates, and my likely opponent as well as the governor and many other Democratic officials have not said who they are going to choose in what is a contested Democratic ballot. I’m focused on my job and also on my own campaign, and I’m just not going to get involved in presidential politics.”
While Collins has sided with Trump on some major fights, including voting to confirm his Supreme Court nominees and to acquit him during his impeachment trial, she also backed an effort to hear from witnesses during the trial and voted against a bill to repeal a portion of the Affordable Care Act in 2017.
This week, Collins was one of the few Republicans to sharply criticize Trump’s Monday photo-op in front of a church near the White House after protestors were cleared from the area by police force.
“It was painful to watch peaceful protestors be subjected to tear gas in order for the President to go across the street to a church I believe he’s attended only once,” Collins told reporters this week. “I thought the President came across as unsympathetic and insensitive to the rights of people to peacefully protest.”