September 16th, 2010
05:16 PM ET
13 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. Jim

    She's right that the Republicans are too extreme. But its partly her fault. She has gone along with a lot of their shenanigans the last two years and that makes me lose respect from her. If she hadn't participated in all the filibustering the party would have been forced to work on the issues.

    September 16, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. Jared

    What's funny is American DOES want lawmakers to come back to the middle – Jim DeMint is wrong. Now, the TeA pArTy? They want ideologically hardline candidates who are right of center. No, the American people don't want that. And the American people don't want ideologically hardline candidates who are left of center. They want moderates.

    September 16, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  3. Bill in CA.

    Spoken like the true RINO she is...

    September 16, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  4. Willy Brown

    Sen. Olympia Snowe you keep acting like a RINO and you'll be the next one to be voted out!

    September 16, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  5. rick ct

    Hope she'll speak up about having her responsibility usurped by yet another sleezy Obama move – Warren. One of the Senate's jobs is provide advice and consent on major appointments. The man who promised openness is making sure Congress does not work in this regard.

    September 16, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  6. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    I love it when vicious animals devour each other!

    September 16, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  7. Patriot

    Olympia Snowe is an endangered species in the Republican party.

    The term moderate Republican in this day and age is an oxymoron.

    I have always wondered how facism and national socialism could rise up, and have masses of people support it. I think we we are watching it rise before us with the level of intolerance posited by the conservative right.

    September 16, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |

    Can it, Olympia. Did you ever think that Maine may now be ready for
    what you call "purity." Don't act surprised if Maine goes the way of

    September 16, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  9. HankW

    The Tea Party cancer – eat, eat, eating away at the body politic, consuming anything and anyone.

    September 16, 2010 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. scott

    Snowe is the last of a vanishing breed, and once the glee from their short term gains wears off, many Republicans will turn their back on the Tea Party Kooks. The GOP base keeps shrinking further and further, Grumpy old white guys that hate everyone continue to be the GOP's base.

    September 16, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  11. Charlie in Maine

    You know Olympia. If those Tea Party wingnuts make you feel uncormfortable I know a great Party you could join............

    September 16, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  12. jim messmer

    She votes with the Democrats on so many issues including fiscally irresponsible money give-aways and now she feels "abandoned" by her party. She tried to garner special treatment for Maine in order to support the Obama Health plan. I wonder if she understands that the voters in this country don't agree with her assessment that Congress is doing a good job? They are all looking out for Number 1. Watch how many start to run as INDEPENDENTS this fall now that they have been booted by their Party.

    September 16, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  13. Squealy

    One of the few republicans I admire. Wish there were more like her.

    September 16, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  14. La Piovra

    Poverty is higher than any time since 1960, and the Republican Party has stonewalled everything that could give relief. This is called "ideological purity". A prominent, well-heeled couple in this town lost their home and their business when the wife's cancer was not covered by insurance: this is called "free-market medical care, the best in the world" (until you can no longer afford it), and anything limiting the freedom of this market must be repealed. Wherever you go in this state, there are foreclosures – but mortgage and finance industries must not be fettered, lest it no longer "generate profits"(for whom?) Disabled veterans should not burden the national budget with their picayune problems now that they are no longer useful... and these are the positions of the "normal" wing of the party. We've all heard about the positions of the crazies, who are increasingly becoming the party's center. A Collins, a Snowe, a Hagel, a Christ, no longer belong in that party. John Anderson saw it coming thirty years ago. It's time for the moderates to succeed where he failed. It's time for a new, centrist party to form.

    September 16, 2010 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  15. Joe NY, NY

    Snowe is one of the few Republicans with integrity and realism. Her comments about idealogical purity should be a warning to all: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot were all about idealogical purity. Something the Tea Partiers should think about . . . .

    September 16, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. Obama will destroy this nation

    Oh, please CNN, Olympia Snowe is the Queen of the RINO's. Obama is taking us down the road to a Communist Dictatorship, and all you can think to do is write a puff piece tryng to make us feel sorry for a poor, "moderate" (translate= will you like me if I compromise?) dimwit like Snowe.

    Why don't you ask the majority of Republicans who are glad George Soros' "pet" Castle got the boot.

    Slant your news much?

    September 16, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  17. 60s survivor

    even though I'm a democrat. I respect snowe

    September 16, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  18. FedUpRepublican

    It’s unfortunate we don’t have many more public servants like Olympia Snowe, instead of the shrill unyielding extremists that are now infecting both political parties. As a centrist Republican I want to thank the citizens of Maine who gave us both Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. These two representatives are among the very few that will actually work for the benefit of ALL Americans.

    September 16, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  19. southern cousin

    Snow does not get the ugliness, corruption and sliminess of the Obama administration. The rest of America (at least those who can think for themselves, sorry union members) can. Take the big finiancial reform bill, the Consumer Protection piece of it. Republicans opposed this because they did not trust the Obama administration and as it turns out they had good cause. He is pulling a fast one by not having Warren confirmend by the Senate. To me it is a violation of the law and an impeachable offense. When the situation is reversed and Obama is consigned to the worst president in history bin, I hope the Democrat liberals (if there are any left) won't whine and cry when the Republican president pulls the same crap citing a common criminal thugs actiion as precedent.

    September 16, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  20. Cindy Merrill

    Fine. So tell her to join the Democrat party instead. Republican in Name only Senators ( Rinos) have the tendency to vote for every spending bill Pelosi and Reid can think up- and our Granchildren will pay the price.

    September 16, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Snowe is the best Rebulican out there...

    September 16, 2010 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  22. Hugo

    I believe that Washington is going to be getting a serious awakening come November and then in 2012. The Tea Party movement and the message it carries is going to show its true self at the voting booth. I believe that everyone has underestimated the magnitude of what main stream unemployed and broken America is mad about. I am not a Tea Party member nor are a lot of the people I know yet they all are in line with what the message is, and that is something just isn't right with our leadership. They will make sure that their votes support that message come election time. Our government has failed us, it has grown too big, too cumbersome, too corrupt, too subject to nepotism and cronyism, and too far reaching with our elected officials being held above the law that all citizens are subject to. Can you imagine if it were YOU that committed the discretion's that Charlie Rangle has with the IRS? You or I would be under the jail yet Mr. Rangle continues to be an elected official not subject to the same rule of law. The winds of change are coming and they are going to hit like a Tsunami, we must cleanse our Government if we are to survive as a viable Nation.

    September 16, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  23. Rob in MO

    Senator Snow speaks the truth. What is she doing in the GOP? She needs to abandon the party of hatred and intolerance.

    September 16, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  24. Iben Hadd

    ""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."
    Dear Ms. Frosty,
    Try going back and say; Sorry folks the Constitution of the United States prohibits me from from stealing from anyone rich or poor!

    September 16, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  25. cwilco

    keep fighting. the world needs you.

    September 16, 2010 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
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