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Former Senator Olympia Snowe Talks Hyper-Partisanship And The State Of Congress

Doualy Xaykaothao

Olympia Snowe is the only woman to have served in both houses of the Maine legislature and both houses of Congress. Two years ago, the moderate Republican retired from the U.S. Senate, citing the surge in hyper-partisanship and extremism. This week, she was in Dallas to speak at a Planned Parenthood awards luncheon -- and she talked with KERA’s vice president of news, Rick Holter, in this week’s Friday Conversation.

Interview Highlights:

…On the difficulty of pushing for change since leaving the Senate:

“It’s actually in some ways easier because you are unconstrained by the day-to-day in order to focus on this mission. When I realized that overall Congress wasn’t achieving its potential, that’s what took a significant change.”

…On fixing the hyper-partisanship in Congress:

“People think it’s an all or nothing proposition when it comes to problems and I always say, ‘I don’t know an area of life where you get 100 percent of what you want.’ You know? If you want to solve a problem, you’ve got to be practical about it to make it work. It isn’t so much that someone’s a liberal, a conservative, far left, far right, that’s not the issue. The issue is, at the end of the day, you prepare to help solve some problems and move forward.”

…On her view of the abortion restrictions in Texas:

“I think it’s contradictory because it’s blocking access to contraceptives and it's denying people to make their choices for themselves. It’s government intrusion, which I see as contradictory to the Republican philosophy. We don’t want government intruding in our lives.”

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.