Susan E. Rice, a former national security adviser to President Barack Obama, said Sunday that she will decide after the November elections whether to launch a bid to unseat Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), claiming the lawmaker has “betrayed women across this country.”
Rice’s comments came in the wake of Collins’s decision to support President Trump’s nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court amid decades-old allegations of sexual assault and concerns that abortion rights could be at risk with a solid conservative majority.
Rice first teased her interest with a one-word response — “Me” — to a question on Twitter last week about who wants to run for Senate in Maine when Collins’s seat is on the ballot in 2020. Rice subsequently seemed to back away from the idea but expressed openness to it while speaking Sunday at the New Yorker Festival in New York.
“What moved me . . . was a sense of outrage and frustration that somebody who fashions herself a moderate centrist, and somebody who cares for equal rights and LGBT rights and Roe v. Wade and all of this stuff, could in a very political fashion not just decide to vote for Kavanaugh but do it in a fashion that was quite dismissive of the concerns of many Americans and many Mainers,” Rice said, according to an account by the Associated Press. “So it was on that basis that I decided I would think about it.”
Rice said that Collins had “put party and politics over her own stated principles” of supporting equal rights and legalized abortion.
“I think in a way that I really regret saying, she has betrayed women across this country,” Rice said.
During an appearance Sunday on CNN, Collins sounded dismissive when asked about a potential challenge from Rice, who also served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Obama.
“I’m going to do what I think is right. That’s what I owe my constituents,” Collins said on CNN’S “State of the Union.” “As far as Susan Rice is concerned, her family has a home in Maine, but she doesn’t live in the state of Maine. Everybody knows that.”
During her appearance in New York, Rice contended her ties to Maine “are long and deep.”
She noted that her grandparents arrived in the state from Jamaica in 1912, that she had yearly visits that began in childhood and that she now owns a home there.
“The last 20-so years I’ve been a homeowner in the state of Maine, so it’s not completely crazy,” she said, adding: “My bottom line is I’m going to give it due consideration, after the midterms.”
Collins announced her support of Kavanaugh on Friday with a 44-minute speech on the Senate floor in which she offered a point-by-point defense of his judicial record and personal character.
“We’ve heard a lot of charges and countercharges about Judge Kavanaugh, but as those who have known him best have attested, he has been an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband and father,” Collins said.
Echoing Trump, Collins raised questions about the account of Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged that Kavanaugh drunkenly pinned her to a bed, groped her and put his hand over her mouth to stifle her screams as he tried to take off her clothes at a gathering at a house in the early 1980s.
“I found her testimony to be sincere, painful and compelling. I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life,” Collins said. “Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events of that evening gathering where she says the assault occurred; none of the individuals Professor Ford says were at the party has any recollection at all of that night.”
Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.