NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins did not mention Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the crowd in her first public appearance in Maine since her vote confirming the newest Supreme Court justice.
Collins also didn’t speak to about 30 protesters gathered in front of her home in Bangor that morning.
Before Collins left the dedication ceremony of the Corporal Eugene Cole Memorial Bridge on Route 201A on Sunday, she told some reporters there that Mainers have been “overwhelmingly positive” with her since she came back to Bangor on Saturday night.
“Many people have thanked me for my vote and have said that they were very pleased that I did the right thing,” The Associated Press quoted her as saying after the event honoring the slain sheriff’s deputy.
An organizer of Sunday’s protest in Bangor expressed frustration that Collins took no time to talk to the people who disagree with her vote.
“She is going to be in town all week. She’s on recess, and we would like to meet with her, but I don’t know that meeting with her is even a goal that we want to have anymore,” said Valerie Walker of Indivisible Bangor, the group that organized the protest.
Collins’ chief of staff, Steve Abbott, said that she was not staying in Maine for a week, but planned to return to Washington on Monday. As a rule, she never meets with protesters at her homes in the nation’s capital or in Bangor, Abbott said.
“To do otherwise would be a security risk that we are unwilling to take,” Abbott said.
Collins and her staff have also received dozens of threats that police consider serious. Some have been downright grisly. For the first time since her senatorial service began in 1997, Collins has been assigned security officers who travel with her, Abbott said.
“It has reached the point where even in Washington we have a Capitol Police security detail assigned to the office,” Abbott said. “I do not believe the people who stand at the airport and wave signs are the people who are making the threats.”
Collins has met with hundreds of Kavanaugh opponents since the confirmation process began and will continue that practice in its aftermath, Abbott said, while another member of Collins’ staff said Sunday night that discussing Kavanaugh at the dedication would have been inappropriate.
Collins’ decision to back Kavanaugh effectively clinched his confirmation to the high court, and the Senate approved him in a 50-48 vote on Saturday and she flew home to Bangor late Saturday. Police escorted her off the flight separate from other passengers after it landed at Bangor International Airport, avoiding about 20 protesters at the airport terminal.
Passengers on Collins’ flight said Saturday night that she was met by people carrying signs when she changed planes in Philadelphia.
A Bangor police officer said there were no incidents at Sunday’s protest, and any police who accompanied Collins to Norridgewock had plenty of company.
Dozens of uniformed police attended the dedication to Cole, who was killed in the line of duty on April 25 during an arrest of a burglary suspect.
Norridgewock was Cole’s hometown and Sunday would have been his 62nd birthday.
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Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Susan Collins left the Eugene Cole Memorial Bridge dedication ceremony before it ended, but a Collins spokeswoman said Collins remained until the end.