(CBS News) Senator Olympia Snowe had amassed a huge war chest, and she was a prohibitive favorite to win a fourth term, so it came as a shock when she announced her retirement.
CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes reports that she says she started to reflect last week on her 65th birthday about whether she wanted to stay here for six more years when the Senate accomplishes so little.
"The point is it was designed to be a consensus building institution and we have strayed from that, far from it," Snowe says. "We're not doing regular business, let alone the major questions.
Snowe also believes that there is not only too much money in politics, but that politics itself has become too divided.
"I think we are beginning in America to think of ourselves as red and blue instead of red, white and blue," Snowe says.
That situation left her feeling lonely as a moderate Republican member of Congress.
"There wasn't a lot of company that's for sure," Snowe says.Watch an extended version of Nancy Cordes' interview with Sen. Snowe below:
Snowe also chided her party for failing to reach out to moderates and independents.
Politicians have to "understand that you have to have tolerance for all philosophical views. It's a big tent," Snowe said on MSNBC, pointing out that even President Ronald Reagan prescribed to that philosophy. "That's going to be important for us in supporting a presidential candidate if we want to win."
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