Politics

Susan Collins on spontaneous applause at Maine airport: ‘It was just amazing’

When Senator Susan Collins arrived back in her home state of Maine on Friday, she was likely a bit tired from a late-night vote on a GOP plan to repeal Obamacare.

What she wasn’t expecting was a group of airport passengers to start applauding the Republican senator as she stepped off the plane.

In a photo posted to Twitter that has since gone viral, Collins could be seen smiling at some passengers as she got off the plane.

Advertisement

“It really was so extraordinary, heartwarming, and affirming,” Collins said Sunday morning during a CNN appearance.

Get This Week in Politics in your inbox:
A weekly recap of the top political stories from The Globe, sent right to your email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“I got off the plane and there was a large group of outbound passengers, none of whom I happened to know, and spontaneously some of them started applauding and then virtually all of them started to applaud,” Collins said. “It was just amazing . . . It was very encouraging and affirming, especially arriving back home after a very difficult time.”

The “difficult time” Collins referred to was her refusal to support a Republican health care plan known as the “skinny repeal” that senators voted on in the wee hours of Friday morning. Republican senators John McCain and Lisa Murkowski — as well as all Democratic senators — also voted against the measure, causing it to fail.

The senators have since attracted ire from the president himself.

Collins also spoke about how Vice President Mike Pence, who was present during the vote in case he had to break a tie, tried to lobby McCain to change his vote shortly beforehand.

Advertisement

“I was talking with John, and I felt this tap on my shoulder, and I turn around and it was the vice president. And he said to me, ‘Boy, are you tough.’ But he softened that by putting his arm around me — and he has always been extremely courteous in his conversations with me. He then started talking with John, we were reminiscing in some ways, and then it was obvious he wanted to have a private conversation with John about the bill, so I stepped aside.”

However, Collins said he was “very proud” of McCain for casting his vote the way he did.

“Once again, he showed the courage that he’s demonstrated throughout his life to do the right thing — even when it’s not popular, even when it’s hard,” Collins said.