A response Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) gave during a Senate debate this week when asked about systemic racism has attracted the attention of the left and its media allies.
Collins, during a debate with Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon (D), was told she had 30 seconds to respond to a question of whether systemic racism is a problem affecting Maine.
Collins replied in one sentence: “I do not believe systemic racism is a problem in the state of Maine.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), in the final Maine Senate debate with Sara Gideon, is given 30 seconds to discuss whether systemic racism exists in her state.
Collins gives a five-second answer: "I do not believe systemic racism is a problem in the state of Maine." pic.twitter.com/UPnCAIuAHd
— The Recount (@therecount) October 29, 2020
The question had come as a follow-up to an earlier question about the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests it has instigated across the country since the death of George Floyd earlier this year.
Referencing a recent one of the protests in Scarborough, the debate moderator first asked, “Is the phrase ‘black lives matter’ controversial, and is there a systemic racism problem here in Maine, where 95 [percent] of people identify as white?” to which Collins responded:
I don’t think the phrase “black lives matter” should be controversial, and I think that we are very fortunate in the state of Maine because we have terrific members of law enforcement. I am very fortunate to have the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. I have met with first responders, with police officers here in Portland and elsewhere to thank them for their work, for their bravery, and I am pleased to support them.
At the same time, it’s clear that in some parts of our country there is systemic racism or problems in police departments. That’s why I cosponsored Sen. Tim Scott’s bill, the JUSTICE Act, that would have brought about police reform. Regrettably, it became the victim once again of partisan politics. But certainly the horrific death of George Floyd should horrify all of us, and those responsible should be held accountable.
The debate moderator then delivered his follow-up question, “Is systemic racism a problem here in Maine?”
Collins’ succinct one-sentence response that Maine does not have a systemic racism problem garnered incredulous reactions from leftists online, with many saying she was “ignorant,” “senile,” “uninformed,” a “white idiot,” a “dumb white woman,” “whitesplaining,” a “moron,” a “terrible person,” “full of shit,” “racist,” and a “bitch.”
Daily Beast columnist and CNN contributor Sophia Nelson and CNN’s S.E. Cupp were two of several who harped on Maine’s demographics, which include a 94.4 percent white population:
No shit. There are NO black people in Maine. It's one of the whitest states in the USA. White: 94.48% Two or more races: 2.19% Black or African American: 1.34% Asian: 1.12%. #SusanCollins is an embarrassment. CC: @SaraGideon https://t.co/2crlecObsJ
— Sophia A. Nelson (@IAmSophiaNelson) October 29, 2020
One of the whitest states in the union… https://t.co/6coa7nIeh3
— S.E. Cupp (@secupp) October 30, 2020
A Boston Globe op-ed writer and New York Times reporter rebutted with tweets about the incarceration and coronavirus infection rates, respectively, being higher among black individuals, while an NBA writer asked if Collins has “ever talked to someone from maine.”
Incidentally, the Collins campaign announced Saturday the four-term senator has traveled over 5,000 miles meeting with Mainers since kicking off a campaign tour two months ago. Collins made 14 stops Friday, from Bath to Bangor, to meet with shipbuilders and small business owners, including family business Reed & Reed, Greenhead Lobster, and Moody’s Diner known for its blueberry pie.
Other leftist reactions to Collins’ debate response included those of professor, columnist, and Bernie Sanders supporter Seth Abramson, Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, “Squad” frontwoman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and comedian Chelsea Handler:
Drive around inland Maine sometime and you'll see about as many Confederate flags as American ones, which in a Union state unambiguously means *exactly* what you, me, and Susan Collins all know full well it does https://t.co/LGQ6Nvqz0S
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) October 29, 2020
Collins gives Maniac its worst possible meaning https://t.co/HC0qRF8eq4
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) October 29, 2020
Esta mujer 🙄 https://t.co/4cMNuNOHjW
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 31, 2020
Aa a fellow whitey, it’s not up us to decide if racism exists. Btw- I was in Maine for 2 weeks and I saw one black person, so maybe that’s one way to avoid it. https://t.co/2dcpkvIGwH
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) October 31, 2020
Gideon countered Collins’ response during the debate by saying “we have to say” black lives matter and that “it doesn’t matter how white our state is, [systemic racism] still exists,” pointing to coronavirus infection, incarceration, and poverty rates as her evidence.
The Gideon campaign launched its own tour on Friday in a push to visit Maine’s 16 counties before the November 3 election. Prior to that, the Democrat speaker pursued a tour to promote her expansive healthcare plan, which includes creating a government-run public option.
The debate this week was the final in the Senate race and the first to feature only the top two of the four candidates on the ballot.
Gideon is considered a frontrunner because of her polling position and cash raised, reporting in the third quarter a staggering $39.4 million raised to Collins’ $8.3 million, per the Federal Election Commission (FEC). As of October 14, Gideon had four times that of Collins in cash on hand, $20.7 million to $4.4 million.
Despite the massive swell of fundraising, Gideon has remained stuck at just a few points ahead of Collins in polls and often within the margin of error. Notably, within the final week of the race, two Democrat political action committees have jumped in with last-minute ad buys totaling $10 million, per the FEC. One of them, totaling $4.6 million against Collins by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), particularly piqued interest because it is the first contribution the DSCC has made on behalf of Gideon’s campaign and has come so late in the race.
“It’s clear their internal polls show Sara Gideon is in trouble,” Annie Clark, communications director for the Collins campaign, said in a statement. Clark also referenced how Gideon, the Maine House’s highest-ranking member, has refused for seven months to compromise with state Republicans to convene a legislative session. “Perhaps they’re realizing that doing nothing is not a winning strategy,” Clark added.
Maine’s early voting concluded Friday. As of Thursday afternoon, more than 446,000, or 42 percent, of the state’s registered voters had cast their ballots.
Write to Ashley Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.