Susan Collins says she doesn't regret Kavanaugh vote 'in the least'

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report MORE (R-Maine) said she does not regret her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Lindsey Graham's Faustian bargain Liberal, conservative Supreme Court justices unite in praising Stevens MORE, despite the vote becoming a key issue among Democrats hoping to unseat her when she is up for reelection next year. 

“I do not regret my vote in the least,” she said in an interview with The New York Times published Saturday.

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Collins cited Kavanaugh’s abortion record during his tenure on the high court.

Though he voted to uphold a Louisiana law restricting abortion access, he declined to take up a case that posed a threat to Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized the procedure nationwide.

The Maine Republican has become a top target for Democrats looking to flip Senate seats in 2020 following her vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the high court last October. She recently gained a formidable Senate challenger in Sara Gideon, the Democratic Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, who has targeted Collins over her backing of Kavanaugh. 

“At one point, maybe Sen. Collins was different, but she doesn’t seem that way anymore: taking over a million dollars from drug companies and the insurance industry and voting to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court,” Gideon said in her campaign announcement.

Collins, who has been in the Senate since 1997, has sought to defend her reputation as a moderate amid an intense effort by progressives to recruit candidates to challenge her.

“I’m an important voice for the nation in an increasingly polarized environment,” she told the Times. “There are so few members left in the center.” 

“It’s ironic to me that I am among [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US MORE's [D-N.Y.] top targets when there is no one who works more across the aisle,” she added.

Betsy Sweet, who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018, and Bre Kidman, an attorney, are also challenging Collins for her seat.