Senate Republicans praised Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for delivering an impassioned speech on the Senate floor in which she excoriated Democrats for trying to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of serial sexual assault without evidence, and her remarks hearkened back to a time when another GOP senator from Maine took a stand against McCarthyism in the 1950s.
Immediately after she said she would deliver a much-needed vote for Kavanaugh, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., greeted her on the floor and said she had delivered the most inspiring set of remarks he'd ever heard. He also said it reminded him of Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, the Maine Republican who was among the first to challenge Joseph McCarthy's Communist smear tactics.
"It took the Senate a couple of years to finally develop the courage to stand up to this demagogue and the tactics he employed," McConnell said of Smith's time. "So those of us who've been in the chamber today have had a unique opportunity to listen to a great statesman from Maine once again to talk about this institution, how it ought to treat matters like this."
"She's given us the opportunity to think about how we can rise above the depths to which we've sunk during this process," he added.
"I want to thank the senator from Maine," McConnell concluded. "I've not heard a better speech in my time and I've been here a while. It was absolutely inspirational."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., agreed with McConnell's remarks and said he hopes Democratic attempts to smear Kavanaugh is a modern version of McCarthyism.
"This is as close to McCarthyism as I hope we get in my lifetime," he said.
"You're guilty until you're proven innocent. Whatever it takes to take you down, we'll do. If one allegation's not enough, how about five?" Graham said.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said that anyone who thinks the Senate no longer has any good speakers is clearly wrong after Collins' remarks.
"I think Sen. Collins has just disproved that today," he said. "She was eloquent. Her speech was compelling."