Retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said that the “sensible center” has “eroded” since she came to Congress in 1979.
And that, she told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, is a main reason why she chose not to run for re-election this November.
“Knowing what I know right now, and realizing it’s not going to change dramatically at least in the short term, that I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I think are so important for the country,” Snowe said.
She stressed that she has remained a Republican — and never considered switching — because of her core GOP beliefs. “That is being fiscally responsible, limited government, individual opportunity, and freedom,” the senator said. “I happen to believe that I represent a traditional Republican. I have not changed as a Republican.”
Snowe said that even though independents must pick a side to caucus with in Congress, that doesn’t mean they can’t be independent.
“I’m independent as a Republican because people expect me from the state of Maine to be independent,” she said.
Having served in the House and then the Senate under six presidents, Snowe urged women to think about a future in politics “because I do think it’s important to have more women voices in the political process. It’s healthy for our country. It’s more representative of our country, frankly.”
“When I ran for office and when I decided to run for the Senate, I mean, I didn’t think about the fact that I was a woman. I just, you know, knew that I could do it and I wanted to do it. And I think that it’s going to have to be that way for women who want to change whatever’s happening in their world.”
As far as the GOP, Snowe advises that the party return “to our basic traditions and principles and speaking to those issues that matter to be more relevant in their daily lives.”
“I think when we were talking about so many of the social policy issues, because frankly, even when we were in the majority, we spent more time concentrating on those issues than talking about what we should have been doing about the future,” she said.