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Susan Collins was asked whether systemic racism is a problem in Maine. She gave a brief answer.

Senator Susan Collins.Al Drago/Associated Press

Senator Susan Collins, during her final debate with Democratic challenger Sara Gideon on Wednesday, said she did not think systemic racism was a problem in Maine.

Collins, a Republican who is in a tight race that may help decide control of the Senate, gave the brief answer following a discussion on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, during which she drew a contrast between the “terrific” law enforcement in Maine and other parts of the country.

“I don’t think the phrase 'Black Lives Matter’ should be controversial,” Collins said. "I think that we are very fortunate in the state of Maine because we have terrific members of law enforcement. At the same time it is clear that in some parts of our country there is systemic racism or problems in police departments.”


Asked to clarify whether she believed systemic racism was an issue in Maine, Collins was brief.

“I do not believe systemic racism is a problem in the state of Maine,” she said.

Collins' answer quickly made the rounds on social media, where some pointed to racism within her own party in Maine, particularly from former governor Paul LePage, who made a number of racist comments while in office.

The Wednesday night contest was the fifth and final debate, and unlike the previous debates, this one featured only the two leading candidates squaring off one-on-one. There are four candidates on the ballot in Maine’s senate race, including two independents.

The comments from Collins also come on the heels of recent comments from White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who told a reporter that President Trump wants to help Black people, “but he can’t want them to be successful more than that they want to be successful.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Christina Prignano can be reached at Follow her @cprignano.