President Obama joined members of Congress in reacting to Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe's announcement that she would not seek re-election this year. The Maine senator has been in public service for nearly four decades.
Stressing her history of working with lawmakers on the other side of the aisle, Obama released a statement that read in part: “From her unwavering support for our troops, to her efforts to reform Wall Street, to fighting for Maine’s small businesses, Sen. Snowe’s career demonstrates how much can be accomplished when leaders from both parties come together to do the right thing for the American people.”
The President’s reaction is notable because he does not typically release statements when Republican lawmakers announce their retirements.
There was no paper statement when the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, Sen. Jon Kyl (R), announced he was retiring last February. The White House was equally mum when longtime Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) announced last January that she would not seek re-election.
One reason for the difference may be that Snowe has a history of breaking with her Republican counterparts and voting with the Democrats. The Washington Post points out that only Sen. Susan Collins -- also of Maine -- voted with Democrats more than Snowe last year.
Obama's statement also celebrated Snowe’s long career in public service: “Elected to the State House in 1973, Olympia went on to be the first woman in American history to serve in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of Congress.”