Maine Senator Olympia Snowe responded to Gov. Pawlenty’s comments on MSNBC this morning about her. Pawlenty was repeatedly questioned on the Morning Joe program on his thoughts about the moderate Republican. Pawlenty said this:
“We want Olympia Snowe in the big tent but she can’t say she’s a Republican and vote against the Republican position much of the time.”
Snowe responded to Pawlenty’s comments to Politico:
“I’ve been a lifelong Republican — I haven’t changed, I don’t know what the problem is — I really don’t,” said Snowe, speaking to POLITICO at the Capitol. “I know Gov. Pawlenty to be a thoughtful person and i know if he could have rephrased it or re characterized it he would.”
But Snowe, who is pro-abortion rights, took serious issue with Pawlenty’s underlying argument that some members of the GOP’s fast shrinking left flank, including one-time NY-23 candidate Dede Scozzafava, are so far out of the party’s anti-abortion, anti-gay rights mainstream they are a “joke.”
“All I know is that I’ve been a life-long Republican, I [spent] 16 years toiling in the minority in the House of Representatives and [was part of] the effort to get us the majority in 1994 — now were in the minority and I’m still here,” she added, with a laugh.
“So, i don’t know — I think they could probably borrow more from me in that sense, in terms of being in touch with your constituents…”
Defending the party’s Yankee roots, Snowe went on to deliver an expansive, impassioned defense of Republican moderation, arguing that no central party apparatus — or any candidate — has the right to dictate a specific programs to any state party.
“I don’t expect the national party organization to be a substitute for the people in Maine,” she added.
“We’re a states’ rights approach party and we should leave it at that… I think we’ve got to be inclusive in in the model of President Reagan… the Lee Atwater approach, the big tent, I think that’s what we have to be all about. I always think that we have to be flexible in accommodating a variety of views if we want to be a majority party in reflecting the spectrum across America.”