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. Ernie Ferguson

    Did John Cornyn promise to put Patrick Toomey back in the box? I doubt it.

    Sen. Specter's own party was mounting what looked to be a devastating primary challenge that would result in Patrick Toomey being the unelectable GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate.

    The Republican party has also completely lost whatever mind they collectively had and have decided complete non-cooperation, complete partisanship, and total obstructionism is the strategy to meet the future with.

    Their numbers go down with each passing day. Sen. Specter might not have been able to regain his seat with the Republican brand weighted around his neck–even if he survived the primary challenge.

    Given his overall popularity with the increasingly liberal Pennsylvania voters and the growing GOP pathology what choice did he have? Other than retirement?

    Way to go, Sen. Specter. You are one of about five GOP members of the Senate that I have some respect for. I have none for my Senators here in Texas.

    April 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  2. Texas Annie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    Steele's comments and comparisons are so low (no) class. Where's your professionalism, dude?

    April 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  3. nancy

    As a Pennsylvanain who knows a little about Spector, I can tell you this is not about democrat or republican its about getting re elected under any circumstances which makes him a very greedy politician.
    His popularity has faded in Pennsylvania and he never would have been re elected to yet another term in the senate.
    This is the reason we need term limits because its no longer about representing the people its become all about money and power, these people will do anything to get elected. He has sold his soul. Soon we will find out what the payment was.

    April 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. m

    What in the world? Why does Steele have to bring Specter's "mama" into this? I have truly had enough of this Steele guy. It seems like he is parroting an image of black culture he must have gotten from tv shows and movies!! His "hip" slang is for the birds!!

    April 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Leslie

    Welcome aboard Senator Spector! As a democrat, I have always respected you for not voting the party line but voting your concience. Spector is correct on stating that the Republican party has gone extreme right.

    This is the equivilant of Teddy Kennedy going Republican!!

    Michael Steele is giving the usual Republican propaganda from the party of sore losers.



    April 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. shucks

    I have never been more proud as a Pennsylvanian and as a Democrat, and an avid supporter and voter for Senator Specter. The Democrats in the state of Pennsylvania have elected Senator Specter for all the terms that he has served, and we will gladly re-elect Senator Specter over any divisive, religious right wing extremist which is just what Toomey is. Congratulations Senator Specter. Democrats in Pennsylvania rejoice at the news of your enlightenment.

    April 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. C. A. Cole

    Maybe the Republicans would not be losing voters and senators if they considered the flaws in their ideology instead of attacking people who disagree with them. Maybe mindless anger is easier for them.

    April 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. David

    Now, that's the leadership I'm looking for in my party!! Go GOP clean house because I"m with you all the way.


    April 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. SwilliamP

    Specter has been someone I have long admired. I almost think he would be better still in the GOP trying to keep it out of the divisive, cold-hearted and backward-looking abyss it has sunk into (remember Jacob Javits? Nelson Rockefeller? Lincoln Chafee? Even Everett Dirksen...? Principled but objective people even demos could support ). I hope he will be a thorn in the side of demos as he was Republicans however, I do not like some of the things I am hearing out of Reid and Pelosi lately...

    April 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. Julia Byrd- Hayden Idaho

    rant, rave, rant, rave, rant, rave, blah blah blah, example of the republican party platform, bs, bs, bs

    April 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. Tom Paine

    This is proof that Specter was going to lose the PA primary anyway....so he cut himself a deal.

    April 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    That's ok...the GOP has been flipping America "the bird" for over 3 decades now.

    April 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  13. GOP = 21st century dodo

    "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."

    This just underscores Sen. Specter's reason for leaving the party

    April 28, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  14. rita

    No democrat should vote for this man. He only switched parties for his own benefit. What a greedy pig of a man. He does it right before the primaries? Give me a break. He's been preaching Republican policies for 40 years? He has no idea how to be a democrat and implement democratic policies.

    April 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  15. Andi

    Nice attack, by the way, Mr. Steele. Bring his 'mama' into it. What was up with yours?

    April 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  16. Obamalism

    A Congressman's FIRST priority is to get re-elected. Period.

    He stated 6 months ago that he was NOT leaving the party. He was a republican and checks and balances were crucial...

    That was before the recent polling shows him down by 20 pts in a primary.

    At least people like Libermann have the decency to run as an independent.

    April 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  17. Jonathan Burton

    Someone sounds angry.
    If tune into Faux News, you will hear only more of the same.
    Not a mention of how the GOP has been wearing Speater down over the years (more in recent times than ever.)
    Ok, here is what the GOP does, and does well:
    If you are in lock step with the hard right ideologies, you are just one of the good ol boys, and can do no wrong.
    BUT...If you stick your neck out for anybody who may not fit into that tight little box, well... then the GOP will scourge you into oblivion, and seek to assasinate you politically.
    This is not the way America works folks.
    This is why the GOP is going down in flames.
    When your hard core base run out anyone who isnt like them, you see your numbers dwindling. Until the party you once stood for is nothing more than an irrelevant minority.
    Welcome to present day america GOP.

    April 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  18. David S. Robins

    Stop whining Steele. Senator Specter is just joining the rest of us who have been flipping the bird to you and your party for years now. Spector is an American hero because he has now made it possible for the Democrats to have a 60 seat majority in the Senate once we get Senator Al Franken seated. Go choke on it if you don't like it.

    April 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. Michael

    When did Michael Steele start talking like a professional wrestler?

    April 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. CLee

    "get ready to go to the mat, baby, because we're coming after you and taking you out"
    They'll waste all their resources on this one man when they really need to be saving the whole darn ship!
    It's perfect. Gotta love it!

    April 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  21. Keelin

    Flipped a bird?!

    He feels different now. Tell me that people don't change ideologies all the time or with the time.

    People are dynamic. It is more scary that some of these people NEVER change.

    April 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. Neel

    Steele guy is a GOP chairman? What is this baby business...why not start calling people dude...he is a disgrace to all politicians...

    April 28, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. Conservative's had their 8 years

    you republicans are so hateful it's no wonder they call you re"thug"licans nowadays, nothing but a bunch of thugs. Wish him well and move on, be the bigger person, steele and Limbaugh and his rethugs are pathetic and I'm sure they as well as psycho Hannity and fox news will have a field day with this one, and it will only go to show how low and pathetic they are.

    April 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  24. Jim

    So instead of the GOP saying to themselves, "You know what, we need to take a long hard look at what we stand for and decide what direction to take the party", they are sticking with their smear campaign tactics. "If you're not with us you're against us". What kind of mentality is that? If they are all one voice, one thought, one idea and everyone of the party MUST be inline, how the f- is that diffferent from a Communist regime? I understand that the party will obviously have an ideology. But to not let anyone stray from the line without risking Rush Limbaugh's rath and all lose of campaign funds, they might as well change their name to the Fascist party.

    April 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  25. Sean from CT

    Shut it Steele! You're just bitter because he woke up to the needs of America.

    I don't care if you're democrat or republican Mr. Specter, I'm just glad you're seeing reason and leaving the right-wing nuts behind!

    April 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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