Susan Collins is fooling no one with refusal to say out loud that her allegiance is to Trump
She's still not saying whether she supports Donald Trump's reelection out loud, but Maine Sen. Susan Collins is demonstrating to the Trumper base, in every way she can, that she's with him all the way. As if not declaring her fealty to Trump will help her hang on to non-Republican votes, her game is embarrassingly transparent. She's attending fundraisers and bragging about her vote to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, but still trying to play coy in public, even to the extent of photoshopping Trump out of Trump events she attends.
The Republicans in question are totally on to her game of not endorsing Trump (wink, wink). "I guess Susan has her reasons for it, but I'm not offended as a conservative or a supporter of the president that she's doing that," Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax Media and an informal Trump adviser, told the Bangor Daily News. "I think she has a right to do it." They know what's going on, though. At a fundraiser held last week, former Maine Gov. Paul LePage, the guy who likes to proclaim himself Trump before Trump got popular, was there to boost her.
At the event "Collins went no further than she has in public" about whether she was going to endorse Trump, "but gave a speech touting the Kavanaugh vote and criticizing [Sara] Gideon," her opponent in the upcoming election. She also "said former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has gotten more liberal over the years." However, she "stopp[ed] short of backing Trump." Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
It's a stupid game—which Republicans are of course going to play along with because they know now that when the chips are down, she's chosen her side: Trump. They're even playing her game with her. Collins will "never be beholden to one group or another" lobbyist Josh Tardy, Collins' campaign co-chair, told the Bangor Daily News. Tardy is also on the Republican National Committee working to reelect Trump.
It might be enough to finally get all those Republicans who've never trusted her to come around, but she's lost everybody else—along with whatever shreds of dignity she might have been clinging to in the Trump era.