AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine State Chamber of Commerce honored U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe on Friday evening at its 2012 annual dinner for her years of public service.
Sen. Snowe was presented with the Alton “Chuck” Cianchette Business Hall of Fame Award, which recognizes the contributions of an individual who has demonstrated public service leadership and business success.
After being introduced by her husband and former Gov. John R. McKernan Jr., the Chamber played a video tribute to Sen. Snowe that featured comments from former President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton.
Sen. Snowe also offered the keynote address.
“Time and again I’ve witnessed how the Maine State Chamber and its 5,000 members have been the heart that pumps the lifeblood of our economy, and a game-changer for progress in public policy,” she said.
“As former chair and current ranking member of the Senate small business committee over the past decade, there has been no priority more urgent for me than being a megaphone for Maine’s nearly 150,000 small businesses and America’s nearly 30 million small firms that represent an astounding 99.7 percent of all employers.”
She continued: “You are willing to take risks others won’t. You have your fingers on the pulse of your communities. And that’s one reason I’ve made main street tours across this state a hallmark of my tenure in public office — they’re like my ‘secret poll.’”
Sen. Snowe also addressed her impending departure from the Senate.
“I’m not leaving the Senate because I’ve ceased believing in its power, or I no longer love the institution — but precisely because I do love it. I’m just taking my fight in a different direction from the outside, to help return the Senate to its roots as a place of refuge from the passions of politics — to the Founding Fathers’ vision of a forum where the political fires are tempered, not stoked,” she said. “And if there’s one message I want to leave you with, it’s that we do not need to accept that partisanship-at-all-costs has to be the ‘new norm;’ we can reverse the tide. Because even as the atmosphere in Washington today is all-too-often regrettable, I am convinced it is not irreparable.”