Sen. Olympia Snowe, the moderate Maine Republican who stunned Capitol Hill by announcing that she will not run for re-election at the end of her current term, said Wednesday in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that she believes Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are working in a “parallel universe.”


View Photo Gallery: The decision to retire by the Sen. Olympia Snowe, the moderate Republican from Maine, represents a major setback for the GOP’s efforts to regain a majority in the Senate.

“I always recall my first years in the Senate,” Snowe told Mitchell in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “And it happened that Bob Dole was the Senate majority leader. And I can always hear his words, they ring in my ear. Even though there were differences, and we had some key issues ... he said, ‘Go in my office at 8:30 in the morning and work it out.’ He would always say, ‘Work it out.’”

“And that’s the point,” she continued. “We are not working out issues anymore. We are working on a parallel universe, with competing proposals, up or down votes. And you know, as the National Journal said recently, we’re coming close to a parliamentary system. Well, that’s not how the Senate was designed. That’s not how our founding fathers envisioned the United States Senate and the overall Congress.”

Snowe said that the decision was a “very difficult” one but that celebrating her 65th birthday last week helped to put the choice into perspective.

“Having a milestone birthday helps you to focus and to be clarifying about whether or not I was prepared to commit to another six years in the United States Senate -- and particularly in the context of the times that we are in in the Senate, where it’s very, very difficult to resolve major issues that are so important to the future of this country and how best could I serve, and to make voice heard,” she said.

Snowe did not indicate how she plans to spend her post-Senate career but suggested that she may seek ways to continue to be active in public life.

“I made the decision not to run for re-election of the Senate and to pursue other opportunities outside the Senate -- that perhaps I can give voice to the frustrations that exist with the political system here in Washington, where it’s dysfunctional, and the political paralysis has overtaken the environment to the detriment to the good of the country,” she said.

Ten senators have announced that they will not seek re-election this year, including six Senate moderates. In the House, 21 members have said they will retire at the end of their current term – 12 Democrats and nine Republicans.