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Republican Sen. Susan Collins Decides Not To Endorse Donald Trump


Another prominent Republican senator says she will not support her party's presidential nominee. Susan Collins of Maine writes in The Washington Post that she believes Donald Trump is unworthy of being president, quote, "based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect." Senator Collins joins us now on her cellphone from Maine. Thanks for being with us.

SUSAN COLLINS: My pleasure.

SHAPIRO: So your criticism of Donald Trump focuses on three specific incidents - his mockery of a reporter with disabilities, his criticism of a judge with Mexican heritage and his fight with the parents of a fallen U.S. soldier. What was it about these incidents that made you decide you cannot support your party's nominee?

COLLINS: In each case, the common denominator is that Donald Trump is attacking an individual who, because of his position or her position, cannot really fight back. A judge cannot answer under the judicial code of ethics. A reporter similarly has a difficult time fighting back even after being mocked. And similarly, we have Donald Trump showing absolutely no empathy or compassion at all for the grieving parents of a fallen soldier and instead attacking them and attacking their religion. That last incident was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back for me.

SHAPIRO: It's interesting to me that you use the words empathy, compassion. I think many people would choose who they want to be president based more on policy positions than on temperament and disposition.

COLLINS: Temperament, judgment, self-restraint are essential qualities in a president. After all, we live in an extremely perilous world. And Donald Trump's tendency to lash out at foes, whether they're real or imagined, could produce a very unsettling effect in which an international event spins dangerously out of control. Our society is rent by so many divisions today. And we need someone who can help bring Americans together so that we can solve problems both here at home and abroad.

SHAPIRO: You say that we need somebody who will bring Americans together, but you also say in this piece in The Washington Post that you do not support either major party candidate. So who is that person?

COLLINS: Well, I personally think that Jeb Bush would have been an excellent president. Unfortunately, Republican voters did not agree with me.

SHAPIRO: And so?

COLLINS: So that means I will most likely write in my choice for president.

SHAPIRO: You write that you have always supported your party's presidential nominee and that you've always been a Republican. To what extent has the nominee moved away from where you believe the party should be? And to what extent has the party moved away from what you believe the party should be?

COLLINS: Donald Trump does not represent traditional American values, traditional Republican values and the Republican heritage that I cherish. A fundamental Republican principle is to respect the dignity and worth of every individual, and he clearly does not. Certainly most Republicans that I know want to see our party grow. We want to welcome new Americans to the Republican fold. And I believe Donald Trump is alienating many of them.

SHAPIRO: Now, you represent Maine, which chose Ted Cruz in the primaries. What response have you had from constituents in the last day?

COLLINS: By and large, it has been very favorable. Now, there are some people who are angry with me, and I understand that, and I respect their view even though I disagree with it, that I should support the party's nominee no matter what. It is not as if I've turned my back on the Republican Party. I'm going to continue to work hard for Republican candidates with the notable exception of Donald Trump.

SHAPIRO: Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, thanks very much for joining us.

COLLINS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.