September 16th, 2010
05:16 PM ET
4 years ago

Dana Bash: Snowe sounds off

4:50 p.m. - Few Republican lawmakers were as stung by Rep. Mike Castle's surprising loss to his conservative GOP opponent as Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe.

In a hallway just off the Senate floor Thursday afternoon, she sounded off about her place as a moderate in the GOP, and voter anger she says she understands.

Visibly sad, Snowe called Castle "an outstanding public servant who was committed to the common good of his state and country."

The longer Snowe talked about the state of the GOP and the Tea Party movement, the more riled up she got.

"Understand, there are a lot of issues that, for example, in the Tea Party that they raise that are legitimate issues. Did we abandon our basic principles of fiscal responsibility? Absolutely. I was arguing those points during the Bush administration," Snowe said emphatically, "I made those very arguments."

"Congress isn't working right and it's not working well, and I share that frustration and anger. They're angry? So am I," Snowe said as her voice got louder, "I'm angry, because I work here ever day and I want things to be different. I'm here to solve problems to make people happy, not to make them sad and angry," Snowe insisted.

And what does Castle's loss tell Snowe about whether there's a place for moderates like her in the GOP?

"Well there are fewer of us so that goes without saying," Snowe said, but then immediately argued that "we can't be endangered if you want to be a majority party."

"It doesn't stand to reason that the Republican Party would want to exclude moderate Republicans if they want to be a majority party. Those are mutually exclusive propositions," Snowe said.

At times, as the Maine Republican talked about this issue, she became exasperated.

"Ideological purity at 100 percent is a utopian world and I don't know who lives in utopia. I've never lived in utopia," said Snowe.

I asked about the argument her GOP colleague Sen. Jim DeMint made to me a day earlier in his office, that Americans no longer want what he called "mushy" lawmakers in the middle.

"What works in South Carolina and Delaware may not work in Maine. We all have different views. We're independent," Snowe responded, "I can't go back to the people of my state and say, excuse me, I have to be one hundred percent ideologically pure because someone has dictated that from another state. It just wouldn't wash," she said.

The reality is that being part of a shrinking wing of her party is not new for Snowe. She used to be one of many moderate New England Republicans, but the group has dwindled over the past decade after being defeated by Democrats, never mind conservative Republicans.

"I've always been on the outside looking in, in the world I live in. When you're a minority, moderate, New England, woman, Republican woman, you don't get more outside than that. Do you? I'm a minority within a minority," Snowe said laughing, "I've been fighting my whole life."


Filed under: 2010 • Mike Castle • Olympia Snowe
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. ntop

    Senator Snowe.......please admit you're a Democrat....it helped Specter.

    September 16, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. Kenneth Krieger

    Voting for a loosey expensive health care bill while millions of Americans are loosing their jobs is responsible? You are such a saint. I guess you might as well retire because you will not win re-election. Ken Krieger Cape Coral Florida

    September 16, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. toughlove

    The truth: this country is more conservative than most think...including Republicans.

    September 16, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. TOTUS FOR PRESIDENT

    Get over it Olympia. You have p'd off more Republicans (by siding with Dems to get us into the mess we are in) than Christine O'Donnell (the mystery woman in this article who CNN dare not even mention her name!) ever will. You do your thing and others will do theirs. Buck up – no need to cry about it.

    September 16, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. BestProfitBusiness = WAR

    Rethuglicans, what Snowe is saying... Keep up the good work! LOL!

    September 16, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. Rob Johnson

    If the ideological zealots like DeMint and the rest of the Tea Party crowd would rather replace moderate Republicans with Democrats in places like Maine, rather than tolerate any dissent, then I'm sure the Democrats will be happy to oblige them.

    Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face! The very same people who accuse Obama of going too far to the left are committing the very same error in reverse by swinging too far to the right.

    September 16, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Eric

    Don't get too comfortable in your seat, Ms. Snowe... 2012 is right around the corner... tick tock, tick tock... pack your bags now and brush up the resume, sweetie, because we're tossing you, too.

    September 16, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Hammerer

    And that my friends is the reason Castle kost. He was a democrat in republican clothing, same as Snowe. Snowe has voted dem on every bill passed in the senate so far. The American people want an honest lawmaker. If they are dems say so. No one respects dishonesty.

    September 16, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. Cindy

    Condolences to Ms. Snowe. She no longer has a party to belong to.

    September 16, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  10. surveyman

    The Tea Party made an example out of Castle because he voted for the bailout. That was probably the wrong state to do that in.

    September 16, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. Ken in Maryland

    Way to go Sen. Snowe! Once again the voice of reason. When did being a moderate – being able to understand both sides of an issue and render an impartial decision – become "Mushy"? That's why nothing gets done in Washington anymore.

    The inability to negotiate and give in a little to get something that works is becoming a lost art. If things keep going as they are, this country is in big trouble.

    September 16, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  12. Snow

    collins and snow are both RINO's who vote more with the liberal agenda more than they do with the Republican Party. They need to be voted out come election time.

    September 16, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  13. Paul from Phoenix

    My hope is simple...that the GOP become more lenient on social issues, but much more strict on economical issues. People like Castle, Snowe, McCain, they are as much a part of the problem as the dems. Any GOP'er who squandered the 8 years of Bush's presidency by not controlling spending deserves to get the boot.

    The party needs a clensing, not of "moderates" as Snowe says, but of fiscally irresponsible members who helped earmark this country into debt hell.

    September 16, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. Sadie

    That's just it the Republican party is listening to all these other conservatives and are pushing out their own people......you can't be anything but Consevative........or you can't belong to their party.......she is right the Tea Baggers are running the GOP now and good people are being booted out because they don't fit into the Party the way they want them too.......sad...and if they do get the majority....... you better get ready for some big changes, education, Social Security , Medicare is all going to end, and there won't be anyone standing up for the poor, mid class, Blacks, Latino's, or elderly

    September 16, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Barry Goldwater...the last of the TRUE republicans – fiscal conservatives who don't lower themselves to using divisive social wedge issues as a way to get elected.

    I'm a life-long democrat, but I would gladly and proudly vote for Olympia Snowe. She's a model of integrity.

    September 16, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  16. nell

    Did anyone else foresee the trouble Obama was going to have being President? Did anyone see the Chris Matthews show, where Paladino has sent out "stinky " flyers to New Yorkers about Democrats or where Palin told McDonnell only to talk with Fox news? Yet, Cnn seems to glorify Palin at every bumbling word she speaks. Report on her, but complain about her as much as you complain about Obama.

    September 16, 2010 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  17. John D

    Snowe is the lowest form of life on the planet. When I think of Obozocare, a vision of her ugly mug pops into my head. This broad doesn't understand the first thing about the people. I say we all move to Maine just to vote this RHINO out!

    September 16, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  18. moderate democrat

    i hear a lot about the voter turnout.be aware a lot of us dont vote in primarys but do vote in the general election.

    September 16, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  19. Mikey

    Snowe can cross the aisle. There is an actual "big tent" there – not a little pup tent out in the wackiest corner of left field.

    September 16, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  20. Ryan

    Its not about being a moderate, liberal, conservative. Its about doing the right thing for America and everybody for the most part does not have Americas best interest at heart Democrat or Republican. Time for some new blood in there, God knows they can not spend any more money then this current congress.......Time to Clean house

    September 16, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  21. Pat-San Jose CA

    There is a drive for ideological purity going on, and those who actually use their brains to think are being forced out. Sad day for the Republican party and for this country.

    September 16, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  22. James in Columbia MO

    If I had to guess I'd say that Olympia's future is in the Democratic Party. I just don't see how there will be any room for moderates in this "Brave, New GOP."

    September 16, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. Sagebrush Shorty

    Olympia Snowe is as pure as the driven slush.

    September 16, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  24. Ed Scanlin

    Olympia Snowe is the Republican bright spot in a sea of darkness.
    She is still an American-–not a corporate colonist.
    Sarah Palin is the finest example of corporate colonialism in the
    Republican Party today. Alaska is no longer a state. It is a corporate
    colony of Exxon Mobile. Exxon pays all of the taxes in Alaska.
    Those poor ignorant people don't even know that it has happened.
    It will be a long road back for them.

    September 16, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  25. Charlie

    You would think these people would smarten up. The only reason Obama got elected is he was an unknown and represented departure form the status quo. Unfortunatly, he gave us more of what people are angry about. In essence, he turned left when he should have went right.

    September 16, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
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