NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine — Despite the presence of protesters outside her Bangor home, Republican Sen. Susan Collins said that the response of Mainers has been ‘‘overwhelmingly positive’’ in the hours since her return after voting to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
‘‘Many people have thanked me for my vote and have said that they were very pleased that I did the right thing,’’ she said Sunday after an event honoring a slain sheriff’s deputy.
Collins returned to Maine late Saturday after Kavanaugh was sworn into office. She said her flight was delayed but she was determined return to Maine for the dedication of a bridge honoring the late Cpl. Eugene Cole on what would’ve been his 62nd birthday.
On the subject of Kavanaugh, she told reporters the supplemental FBI reports that she pushed for, along with GOP Sens. Jeff Flake and Lisa Murkowski, were a ‘‘turning point’’ that helped her reach the decision to support Kavanaugh despite sexual misconduct accusations leveled at him.
Collins said she read ‘‘every word’’ and found no evidence corroborating Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were in high school.
She acknowledged on CNN’s State of the Union that she’d harbored doubts about Kavanaugh after hearing Ford testify before the Judiciary Committee. ‘‘After hearing Christine Ford’s very compelling and painful testimony, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness. He perhaps needs to withdraw,’’’ she said.
She told CNN that Kavanaugh’s forceful denial and lack of corroborating evidence brought her back to fundamental issues of due process, a presumption of innocence and fairness.
People angry over her vote have vowed to make her pay a political price. A crowdsourcing group says it has secured pledges of more than $3 million for her opponent in 2020.
In Norridgewock, Collins criticized opponents for using threats to fundraise on behalf of a future opponent to try to sway her vote, saying the nation is in a bad place ‘‘when people think they can buy the vote of a United States senator.’’
Susan Rice, who was national security adviser under President Barack Obama, is being mentioned as a possible challenger after tweeting ‘‘me’’ when asked who’d challenge Collins.
Rice said Sunday at The New Yorker festival that she appreciated the enthusiasm but said people who’re angry about Kavanaugh should focus on the midterm elections. ‘‘My bottom line is I’m going to give it due consideration, after the midterms,’’ she said.