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)

    See Ya Arlen and thanks for nothing you coward.

    February 11, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. Dr. John W. Hartman

    I believe support from the liberal Maine senators and the RINO from Pennsylvania (Specter) was predictable. Specter has always been a thorn in the side to Republicans. Being born in Philadelphia (and my wife in Chester), I have always felt that Arlen Specter was a "turn-coat" Republican. Hope he is voted out in the next election; preferably by a devoted conservative Republican or even a moderate Democrat – at least the people of Pennsylvania would know where that individual stood!

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

    Thanks for working for the betterment of the American people, Senator Specter. Now, that's change you can take to the bank. These Republican nut heads threatening Specter better take note. Their partisan days are numbered. America deserves better than that.

    February 11, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. Terry, TX

    I don't care about the voting.... I care that they actually read it ....before voting. Senator Spector on Monday did not even know the Health Garbage that had been snuck into this Pork Package.... he was advised on nationwide TV Tuesday. No one has read this thing.... the more I read all this state money....free money....they don't pay it back.... will go mostly to California (Pelosi, Boxer, Waters), Illinois, Chicago, New York.... hello.
    Read the Bill..... line by line...that's what you people get paid for..... can you imagine the waste and corruption that will be involved.....these are the same people who ACORN in the bill for money.... Hello.

    February 11, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  5. Baze

    He'll have a home with the Democrats if his party ousts him; the blue dogs will be more than happy to have his inside info on the G.O.P.

    February 11, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  6. carlo

    Kudos to Spector, for doing what he believes is best for his constituents, even though a large portion of his constituents are really Rush the Messiah lovers.

    February 11, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  7. Lush Limprick the REAL RNC Chairman!

    "I understand the peril, but I didn't run for the United States Senate to further my own political interests,"

    If only the rest of the repubs felt this way maybe they would not be so irrelevant.

    Of course, that would require they have the guts like to Spechter to buck Lush and his agenda of making sure "Obama fails".

    Thanks Senator Spechter for actually putting the "country first" and not reduce it to a campaign slogan.

    February 11, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. Angie in Pa


    Now if we had more Republicans that thought about COUNTRY FIRST AND NOT PARTY! Maybe we would not be in this mess. Way to go Sen Specter!! He is thinking about America and the People,The other Republicans are only thinking Politically about their reelections!

    February 11, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. Bob, Lyons Oregon,

    I commend Arlen Specter on backing this bill, as he knows people need help, and I believe he will not have political backlash from this other then those other obstructionist republicans who don't give a hoot about people who are losing their jobs, losing their healthcare, losing their retirement, losing their homes. The backlash will be on those republicans who did not vote for a stimulus bill to help get our economy back on track. All I see from those republicans is obstruction, and bickering. They did not learn any lessons from the election we just had.

    February 11, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. ROBERT

    I am a democrat but I would vote for this man. Finally a man that votes for the country instead of his own self interest. As for the Pac members and their threat to these good Americans who are trying to do something to help our country, they need to not only be out of office but out of this country. We do not need people who believe in trying to hurt someone's career just because they don't think like you do. It is time for us all to pull together as Americans, nothing else. If they can't do that then kick them to hell out.

    February 11, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. Ch in Maine

    Dear Courageous Senators,

    I am glad to see you put the welfre of the country above your party loyalties. This is especially important when the stakes are so high and your party is so wrong. If any of you happen to get too much greif from the Republicans I know a party that would be gald to hae any of you and we are always looking for quality people.

    God bless you all.

    So glad to be from Maine.

    February 11, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. Jill

    I respect Mr. Specter – he, along with Ms. Colilns and Ms. Snow are the only republicans actually doing the job they were elected to do – representing the best interests of their constituents. The others appear to believe that they were elected simply to keep campaigning for the next election. Good for you – shine that light on your colleagues and keep sticking that finger in their eyes – we hear you!!

    February 11, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. Joanna

    I am a dem,but i like specter. He used to be a dem too! I have spoken to him about the ability to not play by party, but by issue. Thankfully, he is doing just that. He has my vote in 2010.

    February 11, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. alvino

    Arlen Specter said it best, ". . .I didn't run for the United States Senate to further my own political interests."

    So now the worthless obstructionists target him. I hope the people of America target all the other Republican candidates that have put their party above the well being of the U.S.

    February 11, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. SHIRLEY "60"

    You Mr. Specter, do have a backbone, and just don't always go about speaking the current words-of-the-day that that gang of repubs who is always in front of the cameras is speaking, and this will get you re-elected. I am not so sure about that other 37 or so senators. The last two elections are a good indication that most Americans may be tired of fighting among themselves. The GOP seems to love doing that, but I, for one, am more than tired of watching them. Don't they, even in suits, remind some of you of a "gang" in the worst sense of the word? Do any of them have a mind of their own, and can any of them use it to do the right thing at this time for America and the world? It certainly appears as if they don't and can't!

    February 11, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. katiec

    Well, we have three republicans that are putting the future of our country first. The remainder are so set on putting party first they
    are willing to sacrifice millions of Americans welfare in doing so.
    Cannot understand how any politician can continue down this
    unAmerican, destructive path.
    Do they not understand that our country is faced with diasters
    never faced before, or do they not care?

    February 11, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. REF

    a statesman does things on principle. spector says he would voted for a better bill if one came up. if he would have stood for principle and not voted on this pork bill a better one might have emerged his vote helped end the process. he voted because he is like any other elected leader up their his vote was bought by the dems and he is not a man of integrity or any one else who voted our children into future debt. the cbo says this will only produce 1-3 million jobs and cause economic downturn it later years and it also states 9 percent top unemployment im 2009. then it will slowly improve 1 trillion dollars to buy your vote and give you goodies at the expense of your children we are selfish indeed you know poloticians dont get credit for allowing the economy to work itself out we need real leaders who want what is best for the country and not the jokes we have there now*************************so quit wining and grow up***************

    February 11, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. Jeanine

    Undoubtedly he will be re-elected because of his actions. We taxpayers are getting pretty tired of the childish behavior up there as of late!

    February 11, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. alvino

    Less spending and lower taxes? Just where has this moron been for the last 8 years?

    February 11, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. MJJofSara

    I am totally impressed with the position Arlen Spector has taken.
    He has the principles we used to see in Republicans years ago.
    Many years ago. its not about being re-elected .... it about doing what is best for the country... that's why there is a U & a S in front of the word Senator. not PA ... God Bless Arlen Spector.

    February 11, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  21. Irish-American

    May the good Lord bless you, Senator Specter.

    I'm Catholic, Irish-American, Republican-turned-Independent and I've lived in Pennsylvania my whole life.

    You have my unfliching support in the primary and the general for US Senate. Should you lose the primary, my vote will go to the Democratic nominee for Senate.

    For all I know, Senators Specter, Collins and Snowe may be the only three Republicans left in the Senate by the end of Obama's first term.

    February 11, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. Luke Brown

    Everyday it seems the Republicans are making fools of themselves and reminding Americans that they are morally and intellectually bankrupt.

    Everything from holding up the seating of Minnesota's new Democratic senator to going after their own Members who support the President reminds me that they have nothing to say beyond their daily talking points.

    They don't get that they are the ones who got us in the mess. You would think they would have a little interest in helping the guy who is trying to get us back on track.

    Hey, Specter, Collins, and Snowe ... thank you.

    February 11, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  23. Noel

    Specter actually gets it! The so-called "right" are waging a propaganda war at the expense of it's own citizens.

    February 11, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  24. obambi

    I see from the Palin Post that Obama is still paying liberal college kids to post hate articles–he must be very afraid already for 2010–imagine the disappointment if Palin decides not to run! Re: this post–I guess Senator Specter must be near retirement age and not running in the next election? I am sorry he has adopted tax and spend principles of the Dems–I used to like his conservatism–he has changed.

    February 11, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. RMD

    Finally, a Republican who is thinking of the country and not the damaged party to which they belong to. Eight years of not caring about bipartisanship, never reaching across the isle and now they want President Obama and the Democrats to give them an equal voice? Are you kidding me? The Republicans have not offered any solution to the problem, just opposition for the sake of being drama queens. I am so tired of it and hoping that President Obama realizes that no matter how much he reaches across party lines , which he has already done many times in his few weeks as President, the Republicans are only going to oppose him because they have decided that they care more about seeing the him fail than helping the country. It's time to tell the Repubs to step aside, shut their mouths and quit crying- we will fix this country with or without you!

    February 11, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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