Former President Donald Trump called U.S. Sen. Susan Collins “atrocious” on Monday after she told The New York Times that “no one should be afraid” of him.
The war of words reflects a broader divide over the future of the Republican Party as some members, including Collins, have looked to move beyond Trump while he holds rallies and remains the frontrunner for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination.
Collins has a fraught history with Trump, condemning him when he became the party’s nominee in 2016 but declining to say who she voted for in 2020, when they were both on the ballot and he endorsed her. She was one of seven Senate Republicans who voted to convict him in an impeachment trial last year for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The former president has continued to play an active role in Republican politics since his defeat, including endorsing a slate of primary candidates. But Collins, in a New York Times article published Sunday, said that “no one should be afraid” of his influence.
In a Monday statement that noted his own victory in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, Trump said that Collins was “atrocious” and he had “allowed” her to win reelection in 2020 by not saying anything negative about her.
“She would have lost in a landslide,” he said. “Gee, aren’t I nice?”
The former Republican president won the 2nd District, which carries its own electoral vote, by seven points in 2020 while losing statewide by 9 points. Collins won statewide by 9 points in a four-way race, and far exceeded Trump’s margin in the 2nd District, which she won by a whopping 24 points.
“In 2020, Senator Collins became the only Senate candidate in the last 69 Senate races to win by splitting the ticket with the state’s presidential results — something she has done three times, the only sitting senator to do so,” Collins’ spokesperson Annie Clark said.
Trump’s comments Monday were the second time in the past few weeks that he has gone after Collins. He called her “wacky” in a statement last month criticizing her over her work with a bipartisan group looking to clarify the role of Congress in counting Electoral College votes, a response to Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Collins said last fall that there were many Republicans she would prefer as possible presidential candidates over Trump in 2024, naming Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Tim Scott of South Carolina alongside Nikki Haley, Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations.