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. LastCall

    After having spent the past 8 years being in control of Limbaugh, Ingram, Hannity et.al. on what and how to think, it is probably going to take some time before the mindset of the Republican collective are able to regain their individual thought processes. Meanwhile, it is finally coming out on how much influence these persons have on the Republican Party. As a lifelong Republican, I saw this coming and as a result, I gave up my Party affiliation years ago. I am still in debate with various members of my family who haven't yet "seen the light". . . Hopefully, they will come around also. Unfortunately, brainwashing is real and the Republicans have been washed over again and again. I doubt most would know the truth if it hit them in the face.

    February 11, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. Spacinator

    The Republican Party is going bye-bye next election. Too many are not backing this bill just because Obama is President. This Bill is horrible in itself, but if that is what our President thinks we need in order to get out of this mess, then I will back it. Repubs need to stop licking their wounds and start doing some serious work! That is what you make those absorbent salaries for! AND QUIT VOTING YOURSELF RAISES!!!!!!!!

    February 11, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. Thomas

    I am sorry, you lost me at:

    " ...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 just could not stop laughing at this.

    CNN, you guys crack me up. 🙂

    February 11, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  4. Andy J, Upstate NY

    Specter, you're a schmuck.

    The other day you said when you have something like this stimulus bill, you need a lot of time to go over it and not rush to judgement.

    The next day you come out in support of the bill you just slammed as being too big and hadn't been closely examined.

    Thats completely irresponsible. You're a schmuck.

    I'm prepared for the tough times to come.. and, believe me, they are coming. This is the tip of the ice berg.

    I'm prepared. Are you?

    February 11, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. Machiavelli, Baton Rouge, LA

    Senator Specter, if you can brave and beat cancer as you did, surely you can brave and beat the Republican establishment. Since I began following politics more than twenty years ago, I thought you to be a man of principle: now it is very clear that you are. You understand the stakes for America here, and you, along with two colleagues, have put aside your political aspirations and fears of the establishment to fight for reestablishing America's preeminence. MAY GOD BLESS YOU!!!

    February 11, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. CM

    To Senators: Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins; Thank you for put Country in the first place, I am an independent and support all of you for stand up for what you think is right for our Country at this time.

    February 11, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. Zion

    Don't worry. Those who supported the stimulus will still have jobs. By the way, everyone on capitol hill is an elitist because they're all rich the last time I checked.

    February 11, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. Mike in Columbus

    "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."

    EVERY Congressman should think like this, Right and Left.

    Thank you, Senator Specter

    February 11, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  9. barbara

    Hes been in the business too long and is starting to look like a liberal dem. kinda like how owners often look like their pets.

    February 11, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. FreeNLovIt

    Yes, we need moderation of alcohol, moderation of fats, moderation of vegetables and moderation of everything, otherwise, you lose your mind. Good job! Guts made America and glad to see people have a little GUTS to move this country forward.

    February 11, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  11. Donnie

    Maybe Obama can give me a house or car or Job when this package doesn't work.

    February 11, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. The Great Karnac

    Partisans,please stop for a moment.If you really want to see where your money went,check out "The American Tapeworm"by Catherine Fitts.

    February 11, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. Joe, Florida

    That's character right there. Very admirable actions and words Senator.

    February 11, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. r sisk, nevada

    If the GOP had even the slightest hint of a solution to the problems we face as a nation right now, I would be interested in hearing them. Instead, they simply refuse to vote for the Democratically instituted stimulus package because they have no solutions of their own. NEWS FLASH: tax cuts aren't the solution.

    The GOP is pissed off that we have a Democratic President, a democratic controlled house and senate. They don't want to see Obama succeed and proof of this is this right wing group that is threatening senators with repercussions if they vote with the Democrats. I applaud Specter, Snowe and Collins for realizing this isn't about their political agenda, but instead the stability or our nation and our future.

    February 11, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. Brian

    Just imagine if a Democrat stepped across the aisle to support a Republican bill? I mean, gosh, how much more can the trash Joe Lieberman who is an independent and votes with them 90+% of the time. They do the same thing they accuse the Republicans of.

    February 11, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  16. Adam Habib Dallas, Tx

    It is funny how those fiscally irresponsible GOP members suddenly became responsible!! after Bush left. Where were they for last 8 years? I am not saying this stimulus bill is the answer and truth is, I do not know. But what GOP is doing, is becoming part of problem, not part of solution. Propose an alternative package, rather than nagging, so we can compare.

    February 11, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. Laverne

    @ Tess: I know that is what you are hoping for, but it may backfire. By the grace of God this plan just might work and I can see the opposition trying to spin it now saying things like I supported the bill, but was afraid to go against my colleagues, I was getting death threats! I have confidence in the bill and in President Obama. The republicans can make all the noise they want, but no one is listening!

    February 11, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. PATC

    He is so wooried that he is not going to be voted out then to the voters in Penn I say give him what he wants. Vote him out in the Primaries. In fact he needs to run in the primaries on his support of the spendulus bill.

    February 11, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. Real American

    It is now apprent that John McCain and his Republican cohorts are putting POLITICS ahead of America First. I have a simple question for Jojn McCain: Where is that "America First" rhethoric? You told us you were suspending your campaign to go and solve the economic crises in Washington and now there is a stimulus to solve or at least, starting arresting the crises and John McCain is blocking the stimulus to solve the economic crises John once told us he was suspending his campaign to head to Washington. John, Americans are not fools. Americans know what is going on and we will remember the Republicans come 2010 and 2012.

    February 11, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. Matthew, Houston, TX

    Terry, TX February 11th, 2009 10:48 am ET

    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.

    You might want to head your own words, Terry. ACORN is NOT in the bill . . . but then if you'd actually read the bill you'd know that. Stop listening to Rush, Sean and Bill and actually research these things for yourself before spouting off.

    February 11, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Good job Sen Specter and Sen Olympia Snowe and Sen Susan Collins

    February 11, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  22. legal in nc

    All of you dems kissing Spectors posterior are only doing so because he voted with your spending package. The smart people of PA will make sure he doesn't get reelected.

    February 11, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  23. OHIO MAN

    @ Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    sorry to wake u up from ur nap on the couch but the spending spree was 8 yrs of a war that should not have been .. which was 8 billion a month .. oh and lets not forget the 750 billion to banks that had no over sight as to how it was SPENT .. but hey since this is for american people this time i guess we should not do it.. right? ...lol

    February 11, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  24. John K

    Well, it appears that the "No Child Left Behind" initiative didn't work either. To embrace the mentality fomented by such groups shows that many have been left behind, and more are on the way. Could CNN ask them for a clear and reasoned argument against the stimulus bill based on economics and not knee-jerk platitudes? Well, you could ask.

    February 11, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  25. ray


    February 11, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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