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ONLY ON 4: Chris Collins tells News 4 what led to change of heart in re-election campaign

WILSON, N.Y. (WIVB) - In early September, Rep. Chris Collins told News 4 that he would be cooperating with the local GOP to have his name removed from the November ballot, and that regardless of the midterm's outcome, his last day in office would be December 31.

Ten days later, Collins reversed his decision and restarted the campaign he suspended in August, when he was indicted on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI.

News 4's Dave Greber sat down with Collins again Tuesday night during a campaign stop in the Town of Wilson.

During the stop, he spoke to members of Second Amendment Forever, or SAFE.

News 4 asked Collins about his sudden change of heart, which he says was a decision based on the advice of his defense attorneys.

News 4 also asked Collins why voters should trust him now.

"It's important to me and to them that they have a representative that supports the president, all the positive work he's done; Stands with our president, not someone like Nate McMurray, who despises and hates our president, who's called him a con artist, who's called him a clown, does not support his issues," Collins said.

He also said "There's no question today, Grand Island, he wouldn't even be elected dog catcher. He won in a fluke. They can't wait to get rid of him. There's no question, he absolutely hates Donald Trump. It is an important message to carry. It is that important. I do bring him up. He is running. He is raising money. I can't say otherwise. And I need to expose him for, basically, the fraud that he is. He is now trying to say that there are some things that he likes about President Trump."

McMurray responded to Collins' remarks:

"I think it shows how this man feels so entitled," McMurray said. "He's someone that comes from that perspective, that he is above everybody. But he doesn't understand how democracy works. And I've been endorsed by every single major labor union in NYS, I've been endorsed by the thousands of people who come to my rallies and put my signs up across western New York. And by him saying something like that, it's not only offensive to me, it's offensive to all the people who back me and to democracy itself."

When asked if he would debate McMurray, Collins said "As we move forward, as I've often said, we'll make some decision in October. We are running the campaign to win so that I will still be in Congress protecting this seat to support President Trump. Our strategy is our strategy. We're not going to have people dictating to us. So that will be a decision for another day. It's still early October. In the meanwhile, we're running a very aggressive campaign."

McMurray said of Collins "He has brought us embarrassment. And we need to have that discussion in front of the people. Now it's easy to win when you don't want to play the game, take your ball and go home. I want to get him on the court. I want to man him up. We need to look eye in eye, and that's a time-honored tradition in the United States. And I'm excited for the opportunity. I'll tell you why he's considering it. Because he's seeing the same polls I'm seeing, and they're showing that we're going to win. And he needs that hail mary pass at the end. And if he's down, he's going to throw that hail mary, and if he does that, we're going to intercept that ball, and we're going to run it back."

Collins talked about the importance of the upcoming midterm, and keeping the reddest district in New York State in Republican hands.

"As I've been out, anywhere and everywhere, the energy has been 99 percent positive," Collins said. "A lot of folks just happy that I'm back in the race. They know what's at stake. As we move forward, NY-27 has to stay in the Republican column. Every seat matters. As you read the pundits now, it's going to be a very close election to see who is going to be in the majority of the House come next year."

Collins claimed that McMurray is a supporter of Nancy Pelosi, to which McMurray responded "No. I have nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi. She is not related to my campaign in any way. She has not contributed. And I do not support her. I've said that publicly many times. I think we need new leadership in Washington. And it's a lot harder for me to say that, than for Chris to say that. It's easy for him to take shots at Nancy Pelosi. It's a lot harder for me, but I've done it. Now, he's closer to her than me. I've never been in the same room with her, I know nothing about her. And, in fact, I've opposed her. I think it's a moot point. And for him to keep bringing is up, what he's really trying to do is run away from his own record. He wants everybody to look somewhere else. For a man who's been in office for as long as he has, you'd think he'd have more to run on than making up false connections between me and well-known politicians. He's someone who's been in the Beltway. He's someone who's been in D.C. all these years. Not me. And he should be proud of his record. Instead, he's trying to hide it."

Hear more from Dave Greber's exclusive new interview with Collins and the response from Democrat Nate McMurray Wednesday night on News 4 at 5 and 6.

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