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

Specter: I'll take my chances

CNN

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. REG in AZ

    We need many more with Spector's attitude. There likely are some people who are satisfied with their current employment/income, feel their home values are secure, aren't concerned with needing business/personal financing, are happy with their investment values, were unaffected by the apathy our government demonstrated after Katrina, aren't concerned over continually rising medical costs, the challenge of increasing education costs and their diminishing real spending power, aren't concerned with our government having been grossly dishonest and offering subterfuge as it rationalized focusing on placating Special Interests and a select few (who returned overt and covert support, contributions and even promised after-office 'kickback' compensation) or when our government frequently lied to justify actions to benefit a few while putting people and our country at risk; maybe there are some who are among the very wealthy and they simply benefit from the focus on their interests, who aren't concerned over the lack of real regulation and enforcement in the financial industry, and who just accept the rationalizing of these irresponsible and self-serving positions that have cost us so much, while it was also deceptively argued that the Democrats are too liberal and advocate excessive spending (with some responsible spending desperately needed). It is understandable that those individuals could strongly support the Republican Party and even accept the aggressive intimidations used to control the Republican representatives (not allowing them to just vote their conscience) and the extensive subterfuge always used to manipulate public opinion. However, very likely the majority really aren't comfortable with all of those Republican short-comings and they then really need to demand the honest and responsible representation they deserve and want, without allowing themselves to be swayed by the false rhetoric.

    February 11, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. Typical White Person

    We all lose, not just Spector, when this thing happens. You saw it yesterday and the day before with people lining up to ask Obama what was in it for them. The corruption involved will be staggering because the money involved is staggering. Anyone ever heard of the "Big Dig"? The unions and politicians soaked us on that one and it was TINY compared to this. We are about to make the Iraq rebuilding effort look like a model of efficiency and transparency.

    February 11, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. Matthew, Houston, TX

    You go, Arlen. This is one independant who trends Democratic that has your back. I'm sure many more do but I can only speak for myself. I didn't really like the compromise but as you said, the bill may not be perfect but something MUST be done, NOW. If more Republicans acted like you, Snowe and Collins, this could have been done a long time ago with fewer people losing their jobs as a result.

    February 11, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. Brandy

    I am glad to see at least three Republicans stood up for what is right for the American people. I hope the rest get what they deserve. They still think they can pull the wool over our eyes, but, after the last eight years the people have gotten wise to their self-serving politics.Then , after they got us into this mess, they threaten the Republicans who voted for the Stimulus package. What a bunch of worthless Republican Senators.

    February 11, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. j williamson

    Kudos to Sen Spector – he put the Country's interests ahead of his Republican Party, unlike most of the rest of his colleagues. Shame on the rest!

    February 11, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  6. he is NOT the chosen one after all

    it's not the stimulus Arlen, it's all the pork going to government employees and paybacks for supporting obama. he lied to you and you bought it with a 12% carrot that will not help the private sector worker.

    February 11, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. Well Done

    I appreciate the independent and principled minds of these three Republicans.

    February 11, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    The Republican Party has not changed its stripes. The GOP will remain a minority party out of touch with most Americans. Most unfortunate that it seeks to punish moderates within its party who want to work in a bipartisan manner for the good of the country. How sad that on the 200th anniversary of Lincoln that the GOP has become a captive of extremists and entertainers like Rush Limbaugh.

    February 11, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. Voice uv reesun

    Thank you, Arlin, for possessing the cojones to buck your self-serving Republican brethren. There's no guarantee the stimulus package will work, but we know what has not worked so far: giving tax breaks to rich guys.

    If the Republicans want to crawl out of the hole they dug for themselves, they'd either better come up with some new ideas or go along with some of the Dems's proposals.

    Oh yes, and they should stop acting like sore losers.

    February 11, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  10. Well Done

    I appreciate the independent and principled minds of these three Republicans who have the people's interest at heart.

    February 11, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. andrew s. rostolder hillsdale nj

    kudos to you, olympia, and susan...... they don't make them like you guys any more..........

    February 11, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. A New Era

    Arlen not to worry, us PA democrates have your back!!!

    February 11, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. US Marine

    This is exactly the kind of politician this country needs! I have always thought highly of the politicians who understand it's their job to do what's best for us! Agree with this man or not, atleast we can feel better knowing that he's doing what he thinks is best for us & not himself!

    February 11, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. Sue M

    The Republican Right does not want the Obama Presidency or his administration to work......they are like Limbaugh and are following their leader Rush (Lumpball), they all want it to fail and they will do anything and what ever it takes to make it fail even it that means turning against their own people in their own party that support Obama or work in a bipartisin manner.......they are the reason they lost this last election and they will be the reason that they never get back in the Senate or in the White House.....the majority of american voted for change and we spoke up that we want Dems and Reps to work together not against each other...........

    February 11, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. Kristyn

    I have never been crazy about Specter, but I am impressed now. He is standing up against his party for what he thinks is right. I don't live in his state, but I wish I did....because he would get my vote in 2010.

    February 11, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. Mickie

    And don't forget his state (PA) voted for Obama. If Specter looks too antagonistic with Pres. Obama, PA will vote him out next time. The demographics in PA are changing and these representatives in both house and senate who are used to a sure re-election, cannot count on that any more. The voters are becoming more savvy and willing to get out there and express their dissatisfaction.

    February 11, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  17. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Well Senator---since it was the Republicans who got us here in the first place----what chances are you taking?

    February 11, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. BK

    Thankyou for taking action instead of playing petty political games as most Republicans seem to be doing right now. People like him will help his party, because if Republicans get a reputation for standing in the way of progress, they will just earn fewer seats next election.

    February 11, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. Deborah

    Martinez from Florida is not facing reelection in 2010 either.
    Maybe he should take the lead from his gov. Martinez has nothing to loose. He is unpopular already.
    Of course, what does he care about Florida's future. The only part he will have in Florida's future is to cause its demise if the unemployment and foreclosures continue.

    February 11, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. dave in cincy

    Good for you Sen. Specter for standing up. The actions of the National Republican Trust (and their ally Der DopenFuehrer Limbaugh) smack of McCarthyism and will only prolong America's agony. I voted Republican from 1980 but voted for Obama in 2007 when it became quite obvious that the Republican Party has lost touch with America.

    February 11, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  21. u2canfail

    We have 2 year olds in Washington. RNC PUNISH AWAY

    Senator Corker, R,TN said something about Senators should, "... vote their conscience, not just go along ...", but I guess he meant: ONLY IF your view is the Republican PARTY line.
    Senator Lamar Alexander, R, TN said.".. to be non partisan one must sit down and talk... ". Isn't that what these Senators did? Was he there? Did I miss him at the table?

    Tn is talking about closing prisons to balance the budget!

    Moms, we know that 2 years olds say NO to everything.

    Senators Specter, Snow, and Collins did what they should do, work for their states people, not the party.

    February 11, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  22. Erik

    Good for Specter. It shows political guts.

    February 11, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  23. R.L. Shubert

    If there was ever a doubt that political machines run the Congress, the threats against these senators should make it crystal clear that your elected representatives are NOT in Washington to do the bidding of the voters.

    February 11, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  24. The other Deborah

    Martinez from Florida is not facing reelection in 2010 either.
    Maybe he should take the lead from his gov. Martinez has nothing to loose. He is unpopular already.
    Of course, what does he care about Florida's future. The only part he will have in Florida's future is to cause its demise if the unemployment and foreclosures continue.

    February 11, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  25. Puzzled

    I saw Senator Specter last night on TV and really appreciate his stance on trying to do what's best for the country and leave party politics out of this situation. I wish more would do the same on both sides of the isle.

    February 11, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9