Susan Collins to Skip Trump's Maine Visit as More Republican Senators Speak Out

President Donald Trump is heading to Maine on Friday afternoon to hold a roundtable with fishermen and visit a factory that manufactures coronavirus tests. But Republican Senator Susan Collins, the state's only GOP member, will not be there to welcome him.

Collins told Maine Public Radio this week that she intends to stay working in the Capitol during the president's trip. Trump visit comes days after Collins criticized the president's administration, along with several other Republicans, after tear gas was used on peaceful protesters between St. John's Church and Lafayette Park in Washington D.C.

"It was painful to watch peaceful protesters be subjected to tear gas in order for the president to go across the street to a church I believe he's attended only once," Collins said on Tuesday.

Collins, a moderate Republican, announced her decision not to accompany Trump on his visit prior to the Lafayette Park incident. She faces a tough reelection in a competitive state on November 3. Although Collins rated highly in various polls before Trump was inaugurated in 2017, a Morning Consult survey from earlier this year showed that she was the most unpopular sitting senator in America.

Several other Senate Republicans--including James Lankford of Oklahoma, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Tim Scott of South Carolina--joined her in condemning Trump's move earlier this week. "If your question is: Should you use tear gas to clear a path so the president can go have a photo op? The answer is no," Scott told Politico.

"From the news clips I have seen," according to Romney in a statement, "the protesters across from the White House were orderly and nonviolent. They should not have been removed by force and without warning, particularly when the apparent purpose was to stage a photo op."

Trump responded by pushing back against the criticism and suggesting that the protesters weren't peaceful. "You got it wrong! If the protesters were so peaceful, why did they light the Church on fire the night before?" the president tweeted. "People liked my walk to this historic place of worship! Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. James Lankford, Sen. Ben Sasse."

Another centrist Senate Republican, Lisa Murskowski from Alaska, also distanced herself from the president's handling of George Floyd protesters this week. Speaking to reporters, Murkowski said she's "struggled for a long time" with backing Trump's reelection campaign.

"Perhaps we're getting to the point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up," she said.

In response, Trump vowed to campaign against the Alaskan Republican in 2022. "Few people know where they'll be in two years from now, but I do, in the Great State of Alaska (which I love) campaigning against Senator Lisa Murkowski," the president tweeted. "Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don't care, I'm endorsing. If you have a pulse, I'm with you!"

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment. This story will be updated with any response.

Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on a plan for students to safely return to college amid the COVID-19 pandemic on Capitol Hill on June 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. Sarah Silbiger/Getty