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GOP senator says 'I'm worried' about Donald Trump, calls Republican congressman 'so unattractive'

Sen. Susan Collins is not a big fan of President Trump, but it's doubtful the Maine Republican would have said "I'm worried" about his administration if she had known the comments would be broadcast to the world.

That's what happened Tuesday when she and Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, were caught in a candid conversation on a hot microphone, after an appropriations subcommittee session.

The two were overheard expressing concern with Trump's grasp of reality and policy while Collins was heard disparaging the appearance of a Republican House member who had publicly chastised her and other "female senators from the Northeast" who opposed Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare.

The comments were first reported by the Washington Post.

“I think he’s crazy. I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy,” Reed says at one point, apparently referring to Trump. The remark came after Collins expressed concern that the White House had drafted a budget that has "no thinking" and is "incredibly irresponsible." 

"I'm worried," Collins replied.

The comments from sitting senators from each party are not only embarrassing to Trump, but could also make life difficult for Collins, who is already facing heat for bucking the Republican Party on healthcare.

She's been the most consistent critic of the party's plans to repeal or rewrite Obamacare -- one of two Republicans who voted Tuesday against the motion to begin debate on the healthcare bill.

While many Republican lawmakers express private frustration with Trump, polls show large majorities of Republican voters still approve of his performance in office.

Later Tuesday, Collins' office sent a statement from communications director Annie Clark saying that Collins was "worried" about Trump's budget.

"Senator Collins is worried about the elimination of transportation and housing programs in the President’s budget request that are critically important to local communities across our country," she said, pointing out specific grant programs that Trump has proposed eliminating. 

Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Republican from Texas. (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)
Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Republican from Texas. (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

In addition to agreeing with Reed that Trump lacks understanding of the budget process, Collins engages in banter with him about Texas GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold. Last week, Farenthold told a radio host that he would love to challenge Collins and other female Republicans who opposed the GOP health bill to a duel.

"If it was a guy from South Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style," he said.

On Tuesday, Collins referred to the incident with a laugh.

"Do you know why he challenged you to a duel? ‘Cause you could beat the [expletive] out of him,” said Reed.

“He’s huge,” Collins replies. “...I don’t mean to be unkind, but he’s so unattractive it’s unbelievable.”

In the same email that clarified her "worried" comments, Collins' office tried to make peace with Farenthold, with a statement from Collins.

"Neither weapons nor inappropriate words are the right way to resolve legislative disputes," she said. "I received a handwritten apology from Rep. Farenthold late this morning. I accept his apology, and I offer him mine."

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