The Maine Republican senator Susan Collins repeatedly refused to say if she would vote for Donald Trump in November, as her own Democratic opponent pressed hard in their first debate.
Collins is seeking a fifth term, having long enjoyed a reputation as a moderate open to reaching across the aisle. Democrats view unseating her as key to retaking the Senate, and with it prized control of the appointment of federal judges.
Sara Gideon, the Maine House speaker, has established a polling lead. In the debate on Friday night, she sought to link Collins with Trump, demanding several times that Collins say whether she will vote for him against Joe Biden.
Collins has said she did not vote for Trump in 2016 but she has backed him since, including voting against both articles of impeachment earlier this year. She insisted voters were more interested in talking about issues.
“I don’t think the people of Maine need my advice on whom to support for president,” Collins said, in a state…