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)

    The country needs more true conservatives, not another dumba@# liberal. The libs have done enough damage and by siding with them on such a crucial vote, he has doomed this country to a depression. Remember it was the liberal lending practices to every low-life who you just knew would not pay it back,that got us in this mess.

    February 11, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. Beth in PA

    This is why Specter gets my vote each election in spite of my Democratic leanings. He's been in the Senate a long time, has a lot of clout, and has stared death in the face too many times to be worried about his political career. Time and again, he's willing to compromise to break Washington gridlock. He's a man I truly respect.

    February 11, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. AMIGO

    True Pellosi wanted to commit a few billions for contraception in order to prevent un-wanted pregnancies thru "casual" ( aka "IRRESPONSIBLE" ) sex !! and it belongs in the 'long range' plans; though life begins thru sexual transmission instantaneously and won't wait for Congresse's 'long-term-plans' – –

    But excuuuuuuuuse me,



    The reason Repubs want to cut funds for education is, so that their voters will stay IGNORAMUSES and keep voting against their own interests – –

    3] WHERE IS THE REPUGNANT OUTRAGE AT THE $ T-R-I-L-L-I-O-N-S THROWN AT BANKS and WALLSTREET WITHOUT ANY TRANSPARENCY or ACCOUNTABILITY ?? [ they make a lot of "noise" for sure, trying to fool us – -]

    February 11, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. me

    Wow. He's doesn't sound like an idiot or a coward...

    Are you sure he's Republican?

    February 11, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Jackie in Dallas

    I've always respected Arlen Spector, and now I can articulate why. He does what he believes is best for his constituents. What an extraordinary thing for a Congressman (or woman) to do! He saw a bill, knew it wasn't perfect and worked on it to improve it, and is willing to tell the idiot group of GOP PAC that he is not afraid of them. The three GOP members who actually realize that there is something more important than making happy a PAC, may be the only survivors of what could be a GOP bloodbath.

    Voters, at least most of them, aren't stupid. They see that many of the old GOP are more worried about maintaining their own personal power and party power, and less concerned about the country. Yes, there is a difference in political ideology between the two parties, but it shouldn't be more important that the fate of the country.

    February 11, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. We Are The One

    One smart senator I will vote for anytime anyday!

    In a time of crisis, true leadership stands for what is right and not just toe the party line!

    this senator is one man with foresight & leadership!!!!!!

    February 11, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  7. TCM

    You idiots that are complimenting this moron, or any other moron that's voting for this bill haven't reviewed the bill, nor have you fathomed the ramifications of it in it's current form....true, we need a stimulus...but this isn't one! It's a payback to Acorn, it's a hand out to illegals and welfare recepients...but there's nothing there to stimulate the economy! Hell, it would've been better to cut the bill by 2/3rd's and send each LEGAL US citizen $25k...they would spend, invest, and jump start the economy! This bill is a travesty and all voting and supporting it do not see the train coming down the tunnel.

    February 11, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. Jim G pa

    I'm a former Democratic city chairman from Pa. I can't wait to vote for Senator Spector. If the republicans found another right wing nut like Toomey (the guy that ran agaginst him last time in the primary) they'll lose again. If not in the primary, without question in the general. Pa. has no stomach for these crazy right wing nuts. They banished Santorum and they will destroy any others that come along. Go for it you right wing crybabys..See what happens!!

    February 11, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. Robin

    Sorry, Arlen. Won't be voting for you.

    February 11, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. Don

    Apparently the Pennsylvania Republican party (is there still one?) has forgotten that Obama won the state by double digits. If they primary Specter out for some righty wingnut, they'll easily be defeated in the general election (Specter might lose anyway).

    But, if their goal is to be the confederate party and not a national one, then by all means. Continue your treck to the far right and political oblivion. The people of this country are leaving you in the past.

    February 11, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. King

    I am a republican but I don't really understand why we republicans think the economy can fix itself. Something need to be done and I applaud the three republicans for stepping up to support the stimulus package. I just hope the conservatives are aware that our own republican president caused this mess in the first place and the earlier we fix it in bipartisan manner the better chance we have come 2012. By the way any wasteful spending at home is better than spending billions in Iraq. Thank you.

    February 11, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. KLS

    Thank you for putting America first!!! You are a true hero to so many people.
    I'm having a hard time with the GOP logic - they didn't have any problem with giving away my taxpayer money, and my children's future, to wage a war in Iraq but they are fighting against helping people in America who are suffering.

    February 11, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Good for Arlen. At least he sees that SOMETHING has to be done. I had an essay from one of high school students where he is saying that Obama is to blame for the money that the banks got. Think he forgot that is was the Bush Administration that pushed that one through. Well, this is Arizona, so that tells you the education we have out here.

    February 11, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. OHIO MAN

    CAN some1 please tell me how they would fix this mess we are in ? i'm bout tired of hearing so many people say this is a bad bill this is just spending and quick to point out all the pork.. but has not came up with another to compare to this .. if the repulbs say they have the answer to whole thing then how bout they do a bill put a price tag on it compare the bill to the 1 that Dems do and see who's bill is better .. or better yet do there bill and give it to there state that vote for theres and the dems bill go to all that vote for that package and see who climbs out the hole quicker... but instead of bashing the bill without a solution is nothing but barking with no bite

    February 11, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Dennis in Millbrae, CA

    Senator Spector, if some conservative GOP PAC is going after you, I would suggest you take that as a welcome development. Only about 25% of the entire electorate subscribes to the Limbaugh/Rove philosophy–and the same percentage that thought George Bush was doing a great job–but the vast majority of Americans, and I suspect Pennsylvanians, rejected their style of politics on November 4th. People want to see politicians vote their values and conscience and not vote the party line. You did the right thing and will be rewarded with a victory in 2010.

    February 11, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    A country full of whining losers...

    What I don't get is why so many people are so willing to subject themselves to higher taxes and a lot more national debt to fund this spending spree. Or is that you all think "the rich" have a trillion spare bucks you can steal?

    February 11, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. Rick

    Agree or disagree with Spector, at least his current allocation of time and effort is far more useful than the volume of time spent trying to figure out if the Patriots spied on his precious Eagles.

    February 11, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. J.P.

    Spector, pack your bags now.

    I'm not even from your state, but I'm going to contribute money and do whatever I can to see that you are replaced by a real conservative.

    If conservative voters wanted to vote for liberals, they'd have done so. To pretend to be a conservative to get elected and then sell out your constituents' principles by voting for liberal policies is the ugliest of deceptions., and in fact, I'd say there is likely a special place in hell for you (if this agnostic conservative may say so).

    RINOS, consider yourselves forewarned: conservatives are pissed and we will form a voters' rebellion to oust you all. Snowe and Collins, I'd recommend you start considering post-Senate employment now, because your days are numbered, too.

    February 11, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. Joshua College Station Texas

    God for you Specter, you're showing character. Voters respect that. Ignore the extremist haters. Let's get something done!

    February 11, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. cal dipkin

    I am looking forward to Election Day to vote these "goons" out!!

    Too bad they weren't on the plane with Bush heading West to Texas!

    February 11, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Big Ed

    You have to respect Mr. Spector. He is right, no one else on the Republican side stepped up. I am glad he did. I think he is for the American people, not someone like Boehner who loves to hear himself gripe and does nothing to help. Keep up the good work, Mr. Spector!

    February 11, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. Bob

    Stop drinking the Koolaid.....

    Obama is talking down the economy; if it has any improvements he grabs the credit..

    If it does not, he will try to blame President Bush and the Repulicans not himself and his Demo Friends..

    History has a tried and proven way.....spending till the cows come home is not the answer...

    February 11, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. Brian

    It is truly sad how for the last 8 years, we republicans have been trashed. The bashing and name calling by Democrats is beyond shameful, it is childish. Now, we are simply sticking to our guns. The Republicans have never stated that they don't believe a TRUE stimulus package is needed, just not a stimulus package laden with pork to special interests/special states I.E.: NY, CA. What is wrong with hard work and saving money? Do you expect everything to be handed to you? I don't

    February 11, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. Ken in Dallas

    "Country first." An idea that may have a future.

    Senator Specter, I think you get the rights to "Country first," as mr McCain has clearly disowned it.

    February 11, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. Big Ed

    To "Obambi"

    Put down the pipe! Say "NO" to drugs!

    February 11, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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