Photo of Nikki Haley

Haley Campaign Press Release - Bangor Daily News: Susan Collins backs Nikki Haley Over Donald Trump in Maine's Republican Primary

March 01, 2024

By: Michael Shepherd
Online Here

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins voted for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in Tuesday's Republican presidential primary, becoming only the third member of Congress to back the longshot challenger to former President Donald Trump.

Collins, a longtime Trump skeptic who was one of seven Republicans to vote to convict him on a Democratic impeachment charge related to the Capitol riots of Jan. 6, 2021, backed Haley in a Friday statement in response to questions from the Bangor Daily News. She called Haley "extremely well-qualified" to be the first female president.

"She has the energy, intellect, and temperament that we need to lead our country in these very tumultuous times," Collins said.

The senator's support contrasts sharply with the rest of her party, which has coalesced behind Trump as he has won each of the first four nominating contests. Haley has vowed to stay in the race at least through Tuesday, keeping a busy campaign schedule to argue that the divisive former president cannot beat President Joe Biden in the November election.

She will visit Portland for a Sunday night rally, coming two days before the Super Tuesday primaries in Maine and 14 other states that will decide whether she has any path forward. Trump was supported by 77 percent of likely Maine Republican primary voters to just 19 percent for Haley in a poll released earlier this month by the University of New Hampshire.

Collins has a complex relationship with Maine's Republican base. She has never faced a primary since winning her seat in 1996 and routinely keeps ties with state lawmakers. Conservatives circled around her during a massive 2020 challenge from national Democrats, but she was censured by several county party committees after voting to convict Trump.

The senator said she would not back Trump after he became the presumptive Republican nominee in 2016, but she avoided saying how she was voting when she shared the ballot with him four years later. Early in the 2024 primary process, Collins ruled out voting for Trump but declined to endorse any of his many competitors, saying they were her friends.

She held that position even as Trump maintained huge leads in national polls and the field began to winnow. Haley, who served as Trump's United Nations ambassador and is now the only well-known Republican taking on the former president, and she ruled out running a third-party bid under the No Labels banner in a Friday discussion with reporters.

"If I were to do No Labels, that would require a Democrat vice president," Haley said, according to Axios.

Most of the candidates who have dropped out have backed Trump, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Besides Collins, Haley's only congressional endorsements have come from Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a Collins ally who only announced her support on Friday.

All of it probably comes too late to make a major difference in the nominating race, with Trump averaging 79 percent support in national polls, according to RealClearPolitics. That is despite Trump facing four pending criminal cases, including on federal charges alleging he sought to overturn his 2020 defeat ahead of the Capitol riots and mishandled classified documents.

Biden has a similarly large lead in Maine's Democratic primary ahead of Tuesday. He was behind Trump in a Maine poll released earlier this week and has generally trailed the former president in recent national surveys amid voter concern about his age of 81.

Nikki Haley, Haley Campaign Press Release - Bangor Daily News: Susan Collins backs Nikki Haley Over Donald Trump in Maine's Republican Primary Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives