AUGUSTA, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins paid tribute Saturday to her soon-to-be departing Senate colleague Olympia Snowe during remarks at the Maine Republican Party Convention.
“What an honor it has been to serve alongside Olympia,” Collins said. “She has devoted her life to public service, and to serving the people of Maine. She is an outstanding colleague who defines public service at the highest level and has built a well-deserved reputation as an informed, thoughtful and effective legislator.”
Collins then shifted quickly to praising Maine Republicans for their takeover of the House and Senate in 2010 and for reforming the state over the last two years.
“Maine is being guided by our Republican values: a commitment to good jobs in the private sector, a belief in the value of hard work and education and a dedication to fiscal responsibility and less government,” she said.
The senator listed several accomplishments of Gov. Paul LePage and the Republican-controlled Legislature: tax cuts, red tape reduction and increased accountability.
She stressed that now is not the time to rest, though, and urged Republicans to keep working hard ahead of the 2012 elections.
“I stand with each and every one of you as a committed supporter of our outstanding Republican candidates at every level of government, and I will do what it takes to make sure our winning streak continues,” she said.
Collins transitioned from state issues and politics to national topics and her target was President Barack Obama.
“The president has utterly failed to lead: he rejected his own debt commission, he opposed a balanced budget amendment, and his own budget did not garner a single vote in the Senate,” she said.
She also criticized what she called overregulation being pushed by the Obama administration. Collins specifically referenced a recent plan by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cut down on potatoes being served in schools.
“I’m not making this up: the federal government wanted to dictate to schools how often they could serve the nutritious, affordable potato,” she said. “This was Washington overreach at its worst. A truly absurd result, and one that would have cost states, schools and families nearly $7 billion over five years.”
Collins jabbed Obama and the Democrats on health care as well.
“Remember how [House minority leader] Nancy Pelosi told us that we had to pass the Obamacare bill to find out what was in it? Well, American has found out. Now we need a president and a Congress that will set to work immediately next January to repeal and replace Obamacare,” she said. “Obamacare has more negative side effects than those medications you see advertised on TV.”
Her 20-minute speech was well-received by the estimated 3,000 attendees of the Maine Republican Party convention.