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A rare Republican, Sen. Collins remains optimistic

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News,Nation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is alone in a political class facing extinction.

She is one of just two congressional Republicans left in New England. And she's the only one up for re-election in 2014.

Yet, the three-term senator personifies the moderation that national Republicans say is necessary for the party's survival. As the GOP shifted right in recent years, Collins walked a delicate balance on explosive issues.

She calls herself "a champion" for gay rights, but doesn't openly support gay marriage. She favors changes to the nation's immigration system, but so far declines to endorse a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally. And she praises President Barack Obama's recent outreach to Republicans.

Polling indicates that Collins is popular among Maine voters in both parties.

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