Moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-ME, a key member of the Finance Committee who has been courted by the White House throughout the entire healthcare debate has politely turned down an invitation by the White House to attend Thursday's healthcare summit.
Remember -- Snowe is the only Republican in the Senate to vote for anything the Dems have produced on healthcare reform. She was seen early on as the critical shot at bipartisanship on a bill, but Snowe became disenchanted as she felt the process was rushed by what she called "arbitrary deadlines."
Fox received the following statement from her spokesman, John Gentzel:
From Snowe spokesman John Gentzel: “Senator Snowe did receive a call from the White House this morning to attend tomorrow’s bipartisan health care summit. While she greatly appreciates the invitation, the Republican leadership understood the rules of the summit, as established by the Administration weeks ago, were that the Democratic and Republican leadership would select their own members to participate in the event. The Republican leadership had long since selected their team and therefore, it would have been inappropriate for Senator Snowe, under those circumstances, to accept the invitation. This is a summit between the leadership and the President and she believes it is a critical opportunity for the respective leadership teams to convey their ideas directly with the President. Throughout this process, Senator Snowe has been sharing her views with the White House and she assured the White House today that she will continue to play a leadership role on this vital issue in the days and weeks after tomorrow’s event.”
Snowe has endured withering criticism from both sides of the aisle, but she received perhaps the roughest rebuke from the Democratic leader in the Senate.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, recently told The New York Times: "As I look back it was a waste of time dealing with [Snowe], because she had no intention of ever working anything out."