April 28th, 2009
05:55 PM ET
9 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. R in Maine

    Steele has got a bad mouth.

    April 28, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. Steven Rambo

    I think Mr. Steele needs to grow up and realize that Democrats and Republicans are not sports teams but schools of thought and ideology. If Sen. Specter felt this change personally necessary, he needed to switch parties. No more sour grapes Mr. Steele and try to act like a mature adult who cares about the country as a whole and not just your "team".

    April 28, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  3. Shannon G

    That's great! Specter has always come off as a levelheaded senator, who has no trouble in stating his opinion to his own party. I'm sure he see's the writing on the wall for the GOP, which is no direction at all.

    Hats off to you Specter!

    April 28, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  4. Abby

    You cant blame him for not wanting to be with the Teabaggers.

    Welcome Sir!

    April 28, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. RTB

    Steele-get a real job. Perhaps one where you can tote that "hip" vocabulary in a more realistic way.

    April 28, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. JOE

    THis may cause Cheney's heart pacer to explode...We can always pray good things will happen.

    An I bet Rush Limpballs blood pressure is 200 / 100 today.

    April 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. Tom Bachman

    No loss to the GOP...he's well left of center. I'm sure a pro-murder, Roe v. Wade SCOTUS judge will get his vote...if there's one needed before next year.

    April 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. Mark

    He is such a political opportunist. he is not a democrat, more a demagogue. I hope a real democrat runs against him.

    April 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. Frank, Las Vegas

    Senator Specter, CONGRATULATIONS! Steele, who cares what he says or thinks. Senator Specter is indeed very principled, he put the citizens he represents ahead of party. He will also be re-elected in 2010 as a Democrat. A man of honor.

    April 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. Notnek

    The republicans have become so radical and unwilling to deal with issues without the religious right . The vocal few are controlling what used to be real Conservatives Rather that righteous nut jobs.

    April 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  11. Connie

    This is called a matter of choice...I have followed Sen Specter for many years and he did not make this decision lightly. There are times I wish there was one party; it may end the time and money spent on foolish acts. The constituents put these people in office to make decisions beneficial on a local, state and national level; not to see who can "squawk" the loudest.

    April 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. HoldenLitgo

    Steele is from the George W. Bush School of Public Relations: Putting mouth in gear before engaging brain. No wonder Specter is changing parties; he's mortified to be associated with those who've taken control of the GOP.

    April 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. chelle

    "We're taking you out"???? That ranks right up there with "Dead or Alive" and "Mission Accomplished"....the GOP just does not get it....

    Very mature Mr. Steele.....glad someone as thoughtful as you is in charge of the GOP.

    April 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. dennisk

    Welcome, Sen. Specter! I hope more like-minded Republicans will see that the GOP has become the party of marginalized theocratic extremists and join the large tent of people who want to solve Americas problems are return her to her rightful place as a symbol of freedom that the world can respect, admire and aspire to emulate.

    April 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. Had It

    Better ask the Pennsylvania people about that, Steele.


    April 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  16. TJ

    Good for him and there will be many that follow

    April 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  17. D. H. Nishiura

    Just as Miss California had a right to express her views without retaliation, Senator Spector has a right to change parites, without threats and retaliation. I'm a Democrat who respects Senator Spector because as head of the Judiciary Committee, he always tried to be fair and objective and not partisan. He said the "party left him". He did not leave the party.

    Welcome to Senator Spector

    A Democrat
    Los Angeles, CA

    April 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. The guy from jersey

    Rush Limbaugh doesnt even want to mention that specter left 🙂 lol It feels like christmas i love it
    Welcome to our big tent now Arlen.

    April 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. Jones

    All modern day Republicans are children

    April 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. Sinclair

    If you cant beat them ......join them...!!!!!!

    April 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |

    Hes Not the Only One Flipping the Bird to the GOP About 70 Percent of The People are too ha hahah

    April 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. afmcalax

    Oh Steele ... what a loser. I am from your home state and we know just how truly incompetent you really are. Righteous indignation from a guy who has not actually won a public office from the top of the ticket. If you run a right-wing nut in Pennsylvania you will lose. Until the Republicans come to grips with that reality the Senate will become even more veto proof.

    April 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. Carl Justus

    Maybe if the republican leadership and others in the party had not criticized him for voting for the stimulus he may have not been so quick to switch.

    If those not in the highest power base are not kissed up and do as told the underlings will suffer the consequences.

    The repubican party is going to have a tough time staying a viable party if they do not change and become part of the solution instead the problem.

    April 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. country lover

    wow, what words from steele. if this doesn't sink his leadership post (flipped the bird? your mama didn't raise you this way?) then the GOP is more doomed by itself than anything spector raised.

    April 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. rod rodman

    I would say it will probably take 10 more GOP senators to switch parties before the GOP understand that their uncompromising partisan position might not be the right strategy.

    April 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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