Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins said Monday that it’s ‘too difficult to say’ whether the GOP will make Donald Trump its presidential nominee in 2020.
Collins is a moderate Republican who has been one of Trump’s most consistent GOP critics. She refused to endorse him in 2016 and was one of three holdouts who doomed an effort to repeal the Obamacare law in July.
Her latest misgivings about Trump stem from remarks he made last week in the wake of a neo-Nazi murder in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the left-wing counter-protesters who opposed the white supremacists. Trump said that some ‘very fine people’ were among the racist marchers, and that ‘both sides’ deserved some blame.
Traitor? Moderate Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine said Monday on MSNBC that it’s ‘too difficult to say’ if the GOP will re-nominate Trump for a second White House term
Trump has been beset with GOP critics after he said last week that ‘both sides’ of a race riot in Charlottesville, VA deserved blame after neo-Nazis started fights and one killed a woman
‘The president had an obligation, a moral obligation, to speak with absolute clarity from the very beginning, and stick with that, not shift back and forth, to denounce the neo-nazis, the white supremacist the anti-semitism that we heard, and unfortunately he wavered back and forth,’ Collins said Monday on MSNBC.
‘I think the president failed to meet the standard that we would have expected a president to do in a time like that,’ she added.
MSNBC reporter Hallie Jackson seemingly baited Collins to describe a scenario in which the Republican Party could cut Trump loose.
‘At what point, if any, do you not support his renomination?’ she asked.
‘Well, I didn’t support the president when he was our party’s nominee. That was a very difficult position for me to take,’ she said.
‘I’d never taken it before. Instead I wrote in the name of Paul Ryan, and that was very hard for me to do as a life-long Republican.’
Collins has never been a Trump backer: She didn’t endorse him and wrote in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s name when she voted
Jackson pressed her again: ‘He is running for re-election … Do you think he will end up the party’s nominee in 2020?’
‘It’s too difficult to say,’ Collins replied.
It’s rare for a major party candidate to challenge an incumbent president for a re-nomination. Republican Pat Buchanan tried most recently, in 1992, when George H.W. Bush ran for a second term.
Trump’s campaign organization has pushed hard to maintain its momentum since Election Day, holding rallies that generate national attention for his agenda.
The drumbeat of a Russia investigation, however, combined with a lack of success passing major legislation and heart-stoppingly low approval ratings in major national polls, could encourage other Republicans to try their luck.