February 11th, 2009
10:00 AM ET
9 years ago

Specter: I'll take my chances


Watch Sen. Arlen Specter's interview from American Morning Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN)– One of the three moderate Republican senators who voted in favor of the stimulus package says he's aware of the political danger he's putting himself in.

"I understand the peril, but I didn't run for the United States Senate to further my own political interests," Sen. Arlen Specter said on CNN's American Morning. "I think when you have a decision like the one that we're facing now, there's only one way to respond, and that's to respond with action."

Specter and Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine were the only Republicans to back the $838 billion bill that passed the Senate yesterday. All three senators were involved in cutting spending proposals from the original plan crafted by Democrats, and all three have said they may not vote for the final version of the bill if more spending projects are added to the legislation by House Democrats.

"If somebody else in the Republican Party had stepped up to do the negotiations, to handle it, I would have been glad to step aside," Specter told American Morning anchor John Roberts.

The five-term senator from Pennsylvania said that with the economy facing a possible catastrophe, "the only responsible thing to do is to support the package. And bear in mind, the Republican moderates' program got $110 billion cut. We got the backing of the United States Chamber of Commerce, which is a very conservative Republican organization. They know the economy better than perhaps anybody, because they're in touch with so many thousands of businesses and they say the economy requires it."

Neither Collins or Snowe face re-election in 2010, but Specter does. He faced a bruising primary battle in 2004 against then-Republican Rep. Pat Toomey, a fiscal conservative.

The National Republican Trust PAC, an influential conservative political action committee, is pledging to support primary challengers to any Republican senator who supports stimulus package backed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats - the latest public show of dissatisfaction from the right over the massive measure before Congress.

"Republican senators are on notice. If they support the stimulus package, we will make sure every voter in their state knows how they tried to further bankrupt voters in an already bad economy," said Scott Wheeler, executive director of the PAC, which calls for less government spending and lower taxes.

When asked about the possible political backlash from his vote supporting the bill, Specter said "it's a good plan - not a perfect plan, but a good plan - and I'll take my chances."

soundoff (210 Responses)
  1. southerncousin

    How come there is no article on Charlie Schumers ridiculous, elitist remarks on the Senate floor yesterday. If it were a republican saying something like that it would have over 600 hate filled derogatory comments by now.

    February 11, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. cal

    The repubs are a bunch of loser. They are so stuck on the old admin that they don't see the urgency of this bill. Spector and the other two senators are reaching out at least but the rest of this ignorant pack of losers aren't. I hope none of them are re elected they havent shown leadership only division.

    February 11, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  3. Laverne

    Mr. Spector, you are a wise and reasonable man. I was so glad to hear you say you supported the bill not so you could advance your political career, but because it was the right thing to do. Often, it is not easy to be on the side where all your colleagues disagree, but taking a stand for the people sake will not be forgotten Mr. Spector, that you can take to the bank!

    February 11, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. Judy

    God Bless Arlen Spector. He is a true patriot!

    February 11, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  5. Bud

    Amazing how the Republicans quickly eat their own. That the words
    "Honest Difference of Opinion" have been used so seldom and the Repubs have simply attacked those that are struggling to compromise is just a few reasons they have so little relavance. This National Republican Trust PAC is simply a domestic terrorist organization. Senator Specter is not perfect, but he is honorably trying to do the right thing for all Americans. I'm not certain any one party has all the answers, but to do nothing is going to lead nowhere fast.

    February 11, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  6. Deborah

    I'm a Lifelong Democrat and I think this Spending Spree on the backs of Future generations is absolutely CRIMINAL!

    We need to create new Markets and get money back into the hands of Consumers!

    Suddenly funding every wish list of the Liberal Left is not going to solve a thing!

    February 11, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  7. Dem from PA for Specter

    I am a Pennsylvania who vowed (after the last 8 years) that I would NEVER again vote for a republican. Senator Specter has gained my respect for standing up for the American people and risking the wrath of his party. DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION and the Republicans had the better part of 8 years to help ALL of the American people, but chose to help only the rich and the powerful. The rest of the Republicans who will be running for re-election in 2010 and forward should take notice.

    February 11, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Chris from NY

    Way to go.

    February 11, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. Dont blame me

    This guy has bowed to democratic pressure way too many times. He is even worse than McCain and is considered a RINO.

    February 11, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  10. GA Independent

    I never thought I'd say this – I have thought Specter was a creep since his abusive behavior with Anita Hill in 1991. He has regained my respect as a senator who is listening and trying to do the right thing for his country – regardless of the political fallout. His party – the party of NO – has become an anvil around the neck of the country. Hoping that more people can see Senator Specter's point of view and move forward.

    February 11, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. Alison

    Good for you, Senator Specter. I'm amazed at how the Communist, I mean the Republican party is now using threats to get their way, like a spoiled kid.

    February 11, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. Kelly H

    I wonder why the amount of food stamps for a family of 4 is going up to around $600. My husband works very hard as an engineer and we make to much for help but not enough to succeed. I have never spent that much on food with my family of 4 because we cannot afford it. I have seen how families in our area spend their food stamps and I dream of eating that good. Lawmakers need to fix the problem by cutting spending on excessive items (living within our means) instead of throwing money at the problem. There is a way out of this, but we need to get back to the basics.

    February 11, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  13. Listening to America

    But why is education being cut from the stimulus package?

    Who would be against education?

    The other thing I'm bothered about is cutting food stamps from the bill as well. People who have lost their jobs do need to eat. They are human.

    I guess the only thing the GOP cares about is not spending money no matter how much our nation suffers- (they'd rather spend obscene amounts of money on war and on Sarah Palin's warddrobe)

    how frugal.

    February 11, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. Bipartisan

    Good for you. You managed to cut some of the pork from the stimulus package and then broke with party lines and voted for it. I think the Republicans are important in keeping the Democrats from pushing pork through but they cannot simply be obstructionists for political reasons. Americans need help and it is the responsibility of both parties to put politics behind them and do their jobs.

    February 11, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. Larry Houston Texas

    CNN – what are you moderating people on here ?????

    February 11, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. BEN


    February 11, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. tess

    i will be sending my money to whomever runs against this liberal masquerading as a republican! the three that didn't stand with their fellow senators to defeat this liberal, welfare bill will be gone in the next election and replaced with people who represent the voters who sent them to washington to represent them!!!!!!!!

    February 11, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  18. Michael Houston, Texas

    This is the reason why people love Senator Spector. And how stupid does the NRT PAC sound threatening any Senator or Rep. This bill is not we the American people want but it is what we need at this moment. And the Repubs wonder why they lost so many seats. Haven't you idiots, The NRT, Move On.org etc realized that your far right and far left crap will no longer fly with the American people. The NRT sounds like a bunch of babies. I wish you people would just leave the country to real Americans and get out. Go to China where it's okay to bully people into submisson. Although I don't support this bill completely, Kudos to you 3 Republican Senators that at the very least have the stones to stand up for what you think is right, instead of bow down to a few nutcases in some stupid group, like McCain did in the election.

    February 11, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. Riversun

    You got guts! I'll support you and I'm a Dem. As for the rest of the republicans, no guts and they don't care about people. I will always vote against them.

    February 11, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. Stud

    At least there's 3 smart Republicans left...

    February 11, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. BEN


    February 11, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. Larry Houston Texas


    February 11, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. Dana from NY

    So basically the GOP is blackmailing and threatening members of their own party for having an individual thought- sounds like the Politics as Usual that Americans voted against in November... acting like that the Republicans won't lose their seat to other Republicans- they will lose them to Dems... better for my party but not quite sure of the logic being used by the GOP- its like major self destruction... and it gets worse and worse- because the American people are paying close attention right now and are competant enough to see what the GOP is trying to do- it is not for the best interests of the American people- they are acting in spite of the Democratic majority- that is not why they were elected to office! They need to be held accountable by the districts that they serve- and stop acting like petulant, spoiled, bratty children who demand their way or flale around on the floor!

    February 11, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  24. Deb

    I can only pray that we will have more senators like these three on both side of the isle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 11, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  25. Al, NY NY

    Good, go ahead Republican PAC, oust the only members who don't bow at the alter of the Oxycotin Blimp, skank Coulter and the rest of the haters. You will see that it will only push you further out of touch with most americans and your hope of regaining Congress or the White House will be made even more difficult. The package is certainly not perfect but at least an effort is being made. Perception of progress is big in regaining consumer confidence which will spur spending and grow the economy. Trickle down (Voodoo) economics a la Duh-bya did not (and will not) work

    February 11, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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