April 28th, 2009
05:55 PM ET
5 years ago

Steele: Specter 'flipped the bird' at GOP

(CNN) - A heated Michael Steele told CNN Tuesday longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter essentially "flipped the bird" at the GOP leadership with his decision to bolt from the party he has been a member of for more than four decades.

Speaking to CNN's Gloria Borger and Kyra Philips, the Republican National Committee Chairman said it was "not only disrespectful, but downright rude" of Specter to make this decision after the national party made it clear it would stand behind him in a contentious primary fight.

"[National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John] Cornyn went out on the line for this man," he said. "For the senator to flip the bird back to Senator Cornyn and the Republican Senate Leadership, a team that stood by him, who went to the bat for him in 2004, to save his hide is not only disrespectful but down right rude,"

"I'm sure his mama didn't raise him this way," Steele added.

Steele, who said Specter had not given the party leadership a heads up about his decision, also expressed confidence the Pennsylvania senator would either lose a Democratic primary in his home state or the general election to the eventual Republican candidate.

"I seriously doubt he'll have a scot-free ride on the Democratic side no matter what kind of deal the trial lawyers and Democratic Party have made," Steele said. "[Pennsylvania] Gov. Ed Rendell may not run for the U.S. Senate, but a lot of congressmen will look at that seat - this is an open seat for the Democrats."

"If Sen. Specter survives in the fall - get ready to go to the mat, baby, because we're coming after you and taking you out," added Steele.


Filed under: Arlen Specter • Michael Steele
soundoff (307 Responses)
  1. Fred

    Sen. Steele, if you had even an iota of what the rest of this country has "flipped" at the GOP, I think you'd rephrase your statement.

    April 28, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  2. eva

    Yes-Yes-Yes!! I was one of those Pens. Republicans that switched over to Dems. Welcome home Spector! The right wing has hijacked the Republican party ( a once very respected party). It is now run by loonies like Rush and Steele. The right wing republican party is shriveling.

    April 28, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Michael

    I don't recall the GOP speaking in terms of loyalty when Senators Campbell and Shelby exited the Democratic Party. Get over it.

    April 28, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. James

    Arlen Specter – A profile in courage (not).

    April 28, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Paul

    Mr. Steele: America has flipped the GOP the bird, after the GOP flipped the bird at America and the Constitution for 8 long years.

    April 28, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  6. Laverne

    The more I hear this man talk, the less I like him. As far as I am concerned, he is in the same category as Sarah Palin and the rest of the republican party circus

    April 28, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. Russell

    I 'd leave your party too , if all you guys do is incite treason ,I really thinK that the republican party is total out of touch with mainstream society ,and they will continue to lose people if they don't learned how to come up with viable solutions other that hurting the small American , tax cuts,tax cuts and more tax cuts ,tha't is their party mantra , help the wealthy and big corporations and let's not worry about the smaller Amercain and the infrastructure of this country , that's the republican theme , and geuss what we as Americans see that doesn't work in a global society,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    April 28, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  8. Sharon Northern Virginia

    Steele sounds very bitter and mean spirit in his statement.

    April 28, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. Lensa

    I seriously can't stand Steele.

    April 28, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Carole

    Michael Steele was steppin' and messin' around talkin' bout 'Any Republican that voted for the stimulus we will get them and do everything to make sure they don't get re-elected in 2010.'

    Michael Steele pushed Senator Specter's hand.

    WELCOME SENATOR SPECTER!!!!!

    From a Pennsylvania Independent

    April 28, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. Lou from CT

    Hey Mr. Steele – does this tell you how "oput of touch" your party is when one of your former staunch allies decides to cross over to the other side? I still hear a lot of sour grapes and bitterness coming from your party, not alternative ideas. When your party has a few ideas, air them so the American people can hear them. Enough with the vitrol already!

    April 28, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. Seattle

    Hmm...Class act that Steele.

    Steele, Palin, Limbaugh, Hannity, Rove, Cheney, and Joe the Plumber

    WHAT A PARTY!!!!!!!

    April 28, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. Bridgette

    That is a dying breed. They have no ideas and they seem to only want to cause confusion in America. I think the GOP party and their constituents hate America.

    April 28, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  14. Sarah

    The Republican Party has gone way too far to the right and no longer represents the values of hte American people.

    April 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  15. Peggy

    Sen. Specter has finally gotten wise to the folly of the Republican party. Kudos to Sen. Specter and I'm certain that he will retain his senate seat in Pennsylvania.

    April 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  16. jr

    What is with the juvenile "tough talk" by Michael Steele? Who are these people in our government? This type of childish response and trash talk has no place here. He needs to grow up. I am appalled.

    April 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. Big D

    sour grapes for a losing party

    April 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Da Professor

    Sometimes you really really have to scratch and search for an intelligent non-extremist Republican but one just showed that he is a man that will not buy the right-wing nonsense and will not march in a goose-step to the GOP NO agenda.

    Way to go Arlen and welcome on board. ... :)

    April 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. William

    Mr Steel and the Republican party are still clueless about what is going on. I belonged to the Republican party for 34 years, but I am switching to independent, because of there holier than thou attitude towards everything.

    April 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. JonDie

    Michael who? Send the real leadership, Limbaugh, Coulter and Rove, to make the GOP's case.

    April 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. Tyler Swarr

    Mr. Steele's comments illustrate the problem with the republican party and old school politics. He expects Specter to pay off his favors instead of follow what he believes. This honestly made me laugh. I think those comments simply proved to Senator Specter that he made the right decision

    April 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. John

    So once again someone does something the GOP leadership doesn't like and what's the result? Name calling, insults, hateful rhetoric and disgust. Is there anything besides tea bag parties that the GOP likes anymore? The party of NO is being replaced by the 'Mean Old Man' party.

    April 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. Melissa

    Of course. The GOP behave like a bunch of children. Its not like its a surprise.

    April 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. GET REAL.

    Republicans: party of ideas? They talk a whole lotta mess about Obama and the Dems, but I haven't seen one of these people come up with anything to further this country recently.

    Whine all you want, but you haven't done anything, and you know it. Before you talk the talk, walk the walk... losers.

    April 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. PA Dem

    Sen. Spector went were his heart and mind were at. He has been a moderate Republican for years and in PA he has been popular in both Dem and Repub circles. This is nothing more than a blip in PA as we know he still represents our interests!

    And...excuse me, but this is about representation in PA, right? This shouldn't be about the Repub Party, right? They really need to get over themselves. This is precisely the reason he defected. They are so busy trying to "get" the Democrats that they have forgotten to look out for the best interests of thier consituents!

    The GOP and Steele made it clear that they had it out for any Repubs that supported the President. That is no secret. This is their own fault and I can't muster up any sympathy for them.

    Thank you, Sen Spector for doing the right thing!

    April 28, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
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