Maine’s Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Thursday that she plans to attend the party’s national convention in July and will support the party’s presidential nominee.

Several prominent Republicans, including former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, announced this week that they will not attend the convention in Cleveland and will not endorse Donald Trump, who is all but assured of the nomination.

Collins answered a few questions about Trump after giving the keynote address Thursday evening at the University of Southern Maine’s fourth annual Veterans Graduation Ceremony in Portland. USM officials said 62 students with records of military service are graduating this spring with degrees ranging from political science and art to criminology and mental health counseling. More than 20 attended Thursday’s ceremony at the Glickman Library.

Collins, who said she has never met Trump, said he needs to tone down his rhetoric, stop the personal insults and become more specific in outlining his policies and programs if he expects to win in November against the Democratic nominee, who in all likelihood will be Hilary Clinton.

A New York Times article on Sunday mentioned Collins as one of several possible vice presidential candidates. Collins confirmed what she told other media outlets, that Trump has not approached her about being his running mate.

“I would like to see changes in his approach,” Collins said of Trump’s brash political style. “He needs to mend a lot of fences if he wants to build that wall (on the Mexican border).”


Collins said Trump also needs to better articulate what his presidency would entail, by providing more specifics about his policies and programs.

With Trump emerging this week as the party’s presumptive nominee, several Republican leaders announced Thursday that they will not attend the national convention. The dropouts so far, according to CNN Politics, include former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney; the Bushes and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; and Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who serves as chairman of the Republican National Convention, said he is not quite ready to throw his support behind Trump.

When asked about Trump’s derogatory remarks toward women, Collins said she is “troubled” by some of his comments.

She said she doesn’t support Clinton’s presidential campaign, but she and Clinton have a good working relationship.

“I did not like it when (Trump) said Hillary is playing the women’s card. It demeans her ability and her record,” Collins said.


Collins praised the graduating veterans for their service to their country, for their families who stood by them while they served, and for their character.

She said she gained a deep respect for veterans at a young age. Her father, Don Collins, was called to active duty in World War II in 1943. He fought and was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge. He earned the Combat Infantry Badge, two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star.

Her father, who’s now 90, finished his education at the University of Maine through an early version of the GI Bill, Collins said.

“His great generation and yours provide all of us with an inspiring view,” Collins said. “From that vantage point, we see that the burden of service must be borne willingly and with modesty. We see that challenges must be met and that we have an obligation to always respect, honor and support those, our veterans, who make that view possible


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