CARIBOU, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins made a stop in Caribou on Oct. 3, as the homegrown politician continued along her campaign trail. Her vibrant and patriotic red, white and blue campaign bus pulled into the S.W. Collins parking lot around 11:30 Friday morning to visit with her constituents — many of whom were close friends and family — at the location where the Collins family has run their business for five generations.
After arriving in her hometown, Sen. Collins took a moment to greet and speak with each of the voters in attendance, as she received a heartfelt welcome from her supporters. Sen. Collins made her way down the long line of supporters, as they stood equipped with signs that read “Susan Collins, Our Senator” to show their dedication to the incumbent senator. Sen. Collins took time to speak with one of the younger members of the crowd. She knelt down to thank the young girl, who was far too young to vote, but received some words of encouragement from the senator nevertheless. She told the young girl to always remember that she can be whatever she wants to be when she grows up. The young Sen. Collins supporter responded with a big smile and informed her that she hoped to be a U.S. senator someday, just like Collins.
As Collins took time to visit with all those in attendance, others had their fill of hot dogs and hamburgers being served by the senator’s team. As voters enjoyed their complimentary lunch and the scenic view overlooking Collins Pond, the senator took some time to speak with members of the press to answer questions not only about the campaign, but many of the important issues that currently face the nation.
When asked about the conflicts raging in the Middle East, the Senator was very quick to voice her concern in regard to ISIS and other terrorist organizations plaguing the region.
“I’m very concerned about ISIS and other terrorist groups. They do seek to harm us,” said Sen. Collins. “We’ve seen that with the beheadings and with the threats against the families of our service members, and I believe they pose a real threat to our country.”
Sen. Collins also explained her thoughts on exactly what the responsibility of the government is to the American people.
“The most important responsibility of government is to protect the American citizens,” Sen. Collins added. “I support the air strikes that the president is undertaking, but I think we need more help from Arab nations in the region, including Arab “boots on the ground” once we’ve cleared the area with the air strikes.”
Sen. Collins also offered her opinion on Congress breaking session for the current campaigns.
“I believe that Congress should not have broken for the campaigns, but that we should have stayed in Washington to debate this issue,” Sen. Collins added. “It’s a serious issue and that’s our job. The president should come to Congress for a specific authorization for the use of military force, especially since he has said that this campaign against ISIS is going to take years, not months.”
When asked whether or not she believes the president is currently doing everything that is necessary in this ongoing battle against ISIS, the Senator replied by reiterating her previous statement, but also adding, “I think that the air strikes were necessary, but I think that the president should come to Congress for a specific authority, particularly because he’s extending the strikes into Syria,” said Sen. Collins.
“We’ve essentially declared war against ISIS, and that is the correct decision, but it required Congress’ approval. I do believe that the president was too slow to act, and that had he acted sooner, he would have been able to contain the damage. ISIS is growing in size, strength and sophistication every day and they’re now recruiting radicalized Americans, who train there, then come back her to launch attacks and that is very scary,” she added.
The Senator also spoke about her Democratic opponent, Shenna Bellows and the recent attack ads that have been directed toward Sen. Collins and her voting record. One vote in particular, which was posted on a section of Bellows’ website outlining policy differences between her and Collins stated that Collins had “voted to defund Planned Parenthood”, but according to Sen. Collins, as well as officials with Planned Parenthood, that’s simply not the case.
In 2011, as part of a deal to fund government and avert a shutdown, the Senate voted on House Continuing Resolution 36 — the so-called “Pence Amendment” — a Republican proposal to defund Planned Parenthood, which at the time received approximately $317 million of federal money annually, according to Politico. The measure had been approved in the GOP-controlled House, but five Republican senators, including Collins, voted with Democrats to successfully kill the proposal in the Senate.
“I’m extremely disappointed in the distortions that Shenna has put on television,” said Sen. Collins. “She and her far-left allies have run more than $500,000 worth of negative ads that completely distort my record on everything from minimum-wage to fair-pay for women, as well as last year’s government shutdown. That is a real disservice to the people of Maine. Maine’s been known for clean campaigns, and I’ve always run positive campaigns, so this is not in line with the Maine tradition, and I just hope people will really look at the facts and not believe those negative ads.”
As far as how the incumbent Senator’s campaign is currently going, she explained that everything has been going great, and that the Sen. Collins campaign bus has been racking up the miles.
“The campaign is going so well. We have never had a larger grass-roots organization in all the years that I’ve been running,” said Sen. Collins. “Our campaign bus tour is going really well. By the end of the campaign, we will have been in every part of every county in Maine, and we’ve already put 3,000 miles on the bus, and the response has just been tremendous.”
Sen. Collins continued by praising all those who have helped her on the arduous journey along the campaign trail.
“We have volunteers who have spent day after day riding on the bus with us and it’s just been a lot of fun,” said Sen. Collins. “It’s also a great way to find out what’s on people’s minds.”
Lastly, the Senator explained just how special it was to be back in her hometown.
“It’s so special to be back home in my hometown. I was born here. I grew up here. I graduated from Caribou High School. My family still lives here, and our family business has been here for five generations, since 1844,” the Senator added. “It’s a great opportunity to see my parents and my two younger brothers, and it’s just great to be home. I have spent every Christmas of my entire life in Caribou, every single one. That’s how much Caribou means to me. I realize I’ve been lucky to be able to do that.”