“I have said since the beginning that the President’s performance has been uneven and that he should follow the advice of his excellent medical advisers,” Collins said Friday.
Vulnerable Republican senators like Joni Ernst of Iowa, Martha McSally of Arizona and John Cornyn of Texas declined to comment on Trump’s remarks earlier this week. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado — whose seat is the second most likely to flip partisan control in CNN’s ranking of the top 10 most competitive Senate races — did not directly answer a question in a telephone town hall on Thursday about Trump downplaying the threat of the virus. Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and David Perdue of Georgia — all of whom face competitive races of their own — tried to defend the President and what they said were his efforts to calm the nation.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who is not up for reelection this year and who previously said she’s “struggling” with whether to vote for Trump, said Thursday that some of the President’s comments are “very, very, very concerning.”
“Some of the things I find quite surprising and quite concerning,” Murkowski told reporters.
Running for reelection in a state Trump narrowly lost in 2016, Collins is balancing the need to appeal to the President’s base — who she also needs to turn out for her — against not further alienating moderate and independent voters.
Manu Raju and Alex Rogers contributed to this report.