"Collins: ‘Tensions’ Among Senate Conservatives ‘Are Running Very High’ Over Escalation"
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), an opponent of Bush’s escalation plan, appeared on last night’s edition of Hardball. She told host Chris Matthews that she is “getting a lot of pressure” to go along with Bush from her conservative colleagues. “Tensions are definitely there,” Collins said. “And feelings are running very high on both sides.”
Collins also described a “pretty contentious discussion” in which she stood up and responded to claims by the White House that the escalation resolutions “send mixed signals to our troops.” “I am really offended when people say that those of us who are in favor of the resolution are somehow betraying the troops,” Collins said. “I don’t believe that at all.” She added: “I think all Americans support our troops.”
This morning, the Politico quotes an unnamed conservative saying the debate over escalation is “starting to get really ugly.” According to the lawmaker, those who voice doubts over the Bush plan are being “beaten down” by other conservatives.
MATTHEWS: Are you getting a lot of pressure from the White House, from people like Karl Rove, the president’s political guy, not to vote for any resolution that might criticize the president?
COLLINS: No, I am not getting pressure from the White House, but I am getting a lot of pressure from my Republican colleagues in the Senate. And there is no doubt that the lobbying within the Republican caucus is fast and curious. And tensions are definitely there. And feelings are running very high on both sides.
MATTHEWS: What was it like having the fight in front of Cheney this week?
COLLINS: Well, of course, I can’t tell you what happened in the — in the caucus. But suffice it say that it was a pretty contentious discussion. Many of us spoke. I can speak for myself, in saying that I got up and responded to some comments. I am really offended when people say that those of us who are in favor of the resolution are somehow betraying the troops. I don’t believe that at all.
MATTHEWS: Got to go.
COLLINS: And I think all Americans support our troops.