Tuesday, August 31, 2004

No room at the Republican Convention

Editorial, Sun Journal, Aug. 31:

Maybe we're too sensitive, or see slight where none exists.

But we believe that Maine's two popular U.S. senators should have a place speaking at the Republican National Convention in New York. As of Monday, both Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins were left off the schedule.

The decision doesn't track with everything else we know. Maine, we're told, is a swing state, especially in the 2nd Congressional District. President Bush has dispatched numerous surrogates to the state to make his case, and political ads are common on television here.

Republicans are putting some of their biggest moderates forward. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was scheduled to speak Monday night in prime time, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is on the card for tonight and New York Gov. George Pataki is scheduled right before the president on Thursday. Even Democrat Zell Miller of Georgia gets his chance at the podium Wednesday night.

There's TV personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck, made famous by "Survivor" and married to a third-string NFL quarterback, Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill and Miss America 2003 Erika Harold.

Nowhere, however, do Maine's two senators appear on the schedule.Snowe has run afoul of the president on several issues, including environmental regulations, but she is a pivotal player in Congress, often one of the swing votes who can carry the day in a closely divided Senate. She's a respected member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a prominent moderate.

Collins is the chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and one of the leading players in the efforts to reform the U.S. intelligence community. She penned an Op-Ed in Monday's Boston Globe that offered a strong endorsement of President Bush's actions to fight terrorism. In it, she called terrorism the defining issue of this election and "the defining issue of our time." But she won't make the case at the convention.

Neither Snowe nor Collins are up for re-election this year, and Republicans are likely trying to showcase candidates who will face voters in the fall. But it seems a little time could be made somewhere for Maine's two senators.


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