Former Republican President George W. Bush endorsed Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) for reelection, a potential boost to Collins as she tries to fend off challenger Sara Gideon.
“She’s honest. She’s forthright,” Bush told reporters on Friday in Kennebunkport after meeting with the senator at her house.
“She brings dignity into a world that has gotten really ugly. The political world is uglier than I can ever remember it.”
The remarks were reported by the Associated Press and partially relayed by video from Newscenter Maine.
Bush recalled trying to sway Collins on certain issues when he was in office, and she would tell him to his face that she wasn’t voting the way he wanted her to because it wouldn’t be in the best interests of Maine.
The senator, he added, is influential, independent, and smart.
Former first lady Laura Bush said she opposes the way advertisements are portraying Collins, giving her motivation to speak up in support of her.
Bush, the nation’s 43 president, rarely issues endorsements and the backing of Collins appeared to be the first time he’s endorsed a candidate this election cycle.
Collins said she was happy for the support and called herself an admirer of the Bushes.
The backing “means the world to me,” she said in a statement.
Gideon, the 48-year-old Maine House speaker, is considered to have a legitimate chance of unseating Collins. She was endorsed by former Democratic President Barack Obama this month. Her campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Republicans and Democrats are jockeying to control the Senate after the upcoming election.
The GOP has a 53-47 majority, counting two independents for Democrats who are so to the left that they’re typically grouped with the minority. But 23 Republican senators face reelection battles this year, compared to 12 Democrats.
Collins, 67, is known as willing to side with the other party at times, and hasn’t been afraid to publicly oppose President Donald Trump.
The president has not endorsed Collins. She has not said she will vote for him.
Collins, who has been a senator since 1997, took time outside her home to praise Trump’s challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I’ve known Joe Biden for decades, literally. We have a very good relationship. Obviously, I don’t agree with him on some issues, and we have philosophical differences, but I certainly consider him to be a person that I like and enjoy being with,” she said.