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Susan Collins congratulates 'President-elect' Biden, breaking with most of Senate GOP

Biden and Harris "should be given every opportunity to ensure that they are ready to govern on January 20th," Collins said.
Image: Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks to reporters on Nov. 4, 2020, in Bangor, Maine, after Democratic challenger Sara Gideon called her to concede the election.Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine on Monday joined a handful of prominent Republicans in congratulating President-elect Joe Biden for his projected presidential win, breaking with the vast majority of GOP lawmakers.

Collins said Biden "loves this country," and wished him success on "his apparent victory."

Collins, who won re-election after a difficult campaign, is among the few elected Republicans to congratulate Biden publicly, joining Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska in referring to him as the president-elect. The overwhelming majority of congressional Republicans have yet to extend their congratulations to Biden, who was a U.S. senator for decades before serving as vice president under then-President Barack Obama.

In her statement, Collins referenced the importance of the presidential transition and emphasized that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris "should be given every opportunity" to be ready to govern once they are sworn into office.

Collins also acknowledged President Donald Trump's questioning of the election outcome, saying he "should be afforded the opportunity" to challenge any results. She did not vote for Trump in 2016, writing in another Republican, but would not say during her re-election campaign whether she had voted for the president this time.

Trump has refused to concede the election, vowing legal fights over the results and making unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. On Saturday, he responded to Biden's projected victory by claiming the election is "far from over."

Other Senate Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida, have adamantly supported Trump's pursuit of recounting "legal" votes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, also said Monday that Trump is "within his rights" to look into election "irregularities."

In rejecting the results of the election, Trump has guided the Republican Party in doubting Biden's win, though some Republicans have begun to distance themselves from that stance.

Thirty former Republican members of Congress released an open letter Monday urging the president to accept the election results. The group included many who endorsed Biden and some who supported Trump's impeachment in January.

The group said Trump's statements alleging election fraud are "unacceptable" and aimed "to undermine the legitimacy of the election."

Like other Republicans, Collins urged voters to be patient.

"I know that many are eager to have certainty right now," Collins said. "While we have a clear direction, we should continue to respect that process. I urge people to be patient."

"The process has not failed our country in more than 200 years, and it is not going to fail our country this year," she added.

Former President George W. Bush, the only living ex-GOP president, on Sunday congratulated Biden on the projected win, referring to him as "President-elect." In his statement, Bush noted that Trump has a right to challenge the results, but seemed to suggest that the fight would not be successful.

"The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear," Bush said.