KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Former President George W. Bush on Friday backed Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in his first public endorsement of the 2020 election cycle.
Bush has largely stayed out of the political fray since he left the White Home in 2009, and his endorsement is a great addition for Collins, who’s waging her most tough campaign but as she seeks a fifth time period. The centrist senator has turn into a high goal for Democrats, who forged her as an enabler of President Donald Trump’s agenda, regardless that she mentioned she votes towards him greater than every other GOP senator and distances herself from his extra controversial statements and insurance policies.
“She’s trustworthy. She’s forthright. She brings dignity right into a world that has gotten actually ugly. The political world is uglier than I can ever keep in mind it,” Bush mentioned after he and his spouse, Laura, had lunch with Collins on the household’s summer season house overlooking the ocean. Bush referred to as her “sensible and succesful,” “very influential” and “fairly darned impartial.”
Laura Bush mentioned she has been “shocked” by assault adverts concentrating on Collins. “I don’t like the way in which the adverts are portraying her as a result of I do know they’re not right, and I additionally simply don’t like that type of campaign,” she mentioned. “So it gave me actually an additional purpose to face up and communicate for Susan Collins.”
Collins mentioned she was glad “on a private degree” for the backing. “I’ve nice admiration for President Bush and Laura Bush. To have their help means the world to me,” she mentioned afterward.
Nationwide consideration on the race has helped Collins’ opponent, Democrat Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine Home of Representatives, amass a large money benefit.
The nod from the previous president, whose politics seem centrist by Trump-era requirements, might nudge some conventional Republicans into Collins’ nook. Trump has not endorsed the Maine senator, whose race is amongst a handful essential to Republicans’ hopes of maintaining management of the Senate, the place they’ve a 53-47 benefit.
Collins, in the meantime, has not mentioned whether or not she intends to vote for Trump.
The endorsement is a uncommon transfer for Bush. Whereas he has executed some non-public fundraisers for candidates since leaving workplace, that is his first present of public help for a candidate this yr, his workplace mentioned.
Collins labored with Bush when he was president and served as the primary chair of the Senate Homeland Safety Committee.
Again then, Collins served alongside one other Republican from Maine, Olympia Snowe, who has since retired from the Senate. Collins is now the one Republican member of Congress from New England.
Collins has been well-liked in Maine, however Democrats had been incensed when she voted for Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Courtroom and for Trump’s tax breaks.
Democrats view unseating Collins this fall as a key to retaking management of the Senate, and Gideon drew early help from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Gideon already has raised greater than $24 million, in contrast with greater than $16 million for Collins. That doesn’t embrace $3.eight million for Gideon that was crowdsourced by critics of Collins in the course of the Kavanaugh debate.
Gideon additionally has picked up numerous endorsements from teams that beforehand backed Collins: the Human Rights Campaign and the Maine State Council of Machinists, for instance. The Deliberate Parenthood Motion Fund, which was impartial in Collins’ 2014 race, is backing Gideon.
Bush’s household has lengthy had a compound in Kennebunkport, the place his father, former President George H.W. Bush, spent a lot of the yr in a stone-and-shingle home till his loss of life in 2018.
George and Laura Bush now reside in the primary home. That is their second time spending the summer season there, Laura Bush mentioned.