Senator Susan Collins of Maine said Sunday she welcomes potential Republican primary challengers to President Trump while also declining to endorse the president’s 2020 reelection bid.
Collins, who helped defeat Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2017, argued that primaries help shape policy by allowing ‘‘a lot of viewpoints to surface.’’ Several other Republican senators and elected officials have already endorsed Trump’s 2020 aspirations, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
‘‘I see nothing wrong with challengers — that is part of our democratic system,’’ Collins said on CNN’s ‘‘State of the Union.’’ ‘‘It’s healthy for our democracy.’’
Collins’s comments come amid wide speculation about a Republican primary bid against Trump, who remains very popular among Republican voters. Ohio Governor John Kasich, who was defeated by Trump in 2016, has encouraged speculation he will challenge the president in 2020, traveling to New Hampshire this fall. Collins supported Kasich in the 2016 election and said in August 2016 that she would not be voting for Trump in that election.
Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona has also been floated as a potential candidate to oppose Trump in a primary, although the senator said this November, ‘‘I don’t think that will be me. I think there are better candidates out there.’’
About 89 percent of Republican voters approve of Trump’s job performance, according to the latest Gallup polling, roughly unchanged from his inauguration.
O’Rourke places well in Iowa, behind Biden and Sanders
An early poll of Iowa Democratic voters looking for a challenger to unseat President Trump shows them torn between familiar candidates in their 70s and one lightly experienced newcomer who is 46.
Two old hands — former vice president Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont — and the new contender, outgoing US Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, grabbed the top three spots in a poll of likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers released Saturday.
The results reflect the debate among Democrats over whether to run against the chaos-causing Trump with a solid resume built on experience in Washington, or by nominating a fresh face who stirs passions. A majority in the Iowa survey favored pragmatism: 54 percent said it was more important to nominate someone able to defeat Trump than someone who aligns with voters’ positions. Similarly, 49 percent preferred a seasoned candidate compared with 36 percent who want a new face.
The results, 14 months before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses in February 2020, echo other recent polls that show the power of name identification so early in the nominating process, when no top candidates have officially announced they are running. Little known before the midterms, O’Rourke triggered Beto-mania with a dynamic campaign presence and prolific fundraising in his narrow loss of a Texas Senate race to Ted Cruz.
But the results also partly contradict the message of the midterms, when an energized base swept in a wave of women and minority candidates to Congress.
Other fresher faces trailed well behind the top tier of Biden, at 32 percent, Sanders, at 19 percent, and O’Rourke with 11 percent.
The second tier comprised Senator Elizabeth Warren, with 9 percent; Senator Kamala Harris, 5 percent; and Senator Cory Booker, at 4 percent. Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, who recently made a splashy Iowa visit, was at 3 percent.
Other lesser-known potential candidates, including Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, were polling at or below 1 percent.
The poll was conducted for The Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom by Ann Selzer, a respected Des Moines pollster. It has a margin of error of 4.6 percentage points.
New York Times
Giuliani says no way Trump would speak with Mueller
Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s attorney, on Sunday rejected the prospect of Trump sitting down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller.
‘‘Over my dead body,’’ Giuliani said on ‘‘Fox News Sunday.’’ ‘‘But you know, I could be dead.’’
‘‘Fox News Sunday’’ host Chris Wallace followed up, pressing Giuliani on whether the special counsel wanted to speak with Trump. Giuliani did not respond directly and instead said he was ‘‘disgusted with the tactics they have used in this case.’’
On ABC News’ ‘‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos,’’ Giuliani was asked whether there were ongoing discussions about an interview. He replied that he was ‘‘not allowed’’ to say that.
Giuliani added, ‘‘The agreement we had did contemplate that there’d be a period of time after the questions that we would have a discussion about whether there should be any further questions. So I’m not saying we are or we aren’t, but that’s in the agreement.’’
Last month, Trump’s attorneys submitted his written answers to questions from Mueller about the president’s knowledge of the Russian government’s efforts to assist his 2016 campaign.
During the televised interviews, Giuliani also criticized former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who was recently sentenced to three years in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress.
Cohen said in an interview with ABC News last week that Trump knew it was wrong to make hush-money payments to two women who alleged they had affairs with him years ago. Cohen has admitted to facilitating the payments and running afoul of campaign finance law.
Trump has denied instructing Cohen to break the law. ‘‘The man is pathetic,’’ Giuliani said of Cohen. Giuliani also called him a ‘‘serial liar.’’