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. jj

    The GOP is slowly but surely shrinking into a party of old southern religious conservatives

    April 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. peter from ORlando

    You can talk to talk Steele but when it come to walking you can handle the true buddy.Keep on dreaming and the democrats will keep in marching toward your gate soon and take you out instead of some senators from your party.This is our time this is our moment as said by the president during the election.

    Thank God Obama is in charge these days the world is safer and free from parasites like you Steele.

    April 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. John of Michigan

    It is not only disrespectful but down right rude for Steele to say Sepcter's "Mama did not raise him this way." One might say, quite rightly and with a better chance of being accurate, that Steele's Mama did not raise him to speak for the corporate greed that is Dick Cheney, the intellectual mediocrity that is Bush and the rest of the GOP senators (except Specter then) and the white suprematist that is Rush Limnball.

    April 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. Proud to have Senator Specter

    Good Grief Steele, quit being such a crybaby... Remember the old saying "alls fair in love and politics". WELL we Democrats just love having Senator Specter in our politics. Welcome to him. He will find himself at home with us.

    Senator Snowe, Please come along and join us too. You would be as welcome as honey and butter on a hot biscuit...

    April 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. David in Houston

    "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."

    Oh, yeah? Bring it, Steele!


    Welcome! Please let us know where to send the money.

    We'll "give the bird" to the GOP together.

    David S.

    April 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Dan

    Senator Specter should be commended for taking a courageous stand. The Republican Party is riddled with anger and fear with little else to offer. The Democratic Party, while not perfect, does represent the mainstream of American goals.

    April 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. larry buchas

    Michael Steele,

    Whatever happened to the party of Lincoln? You better pay attention to the polls. The latest had only 21% calling themselves Republicans.

    The choice is simple. Americans prefer Obama to the likes of you.

    April 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. Michael

    Ha Ha! Ha-Hah Ha!! Ha hah-ha Ha!!!

    Michael Steele is the Captain of the HMS Titanic.

    April 28, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. George

    America flipped the bird on the GOP. Keep up the good work Mr. Steele. You and Rush are my heros.

    April 28, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Red

    Mr. Steele..."flipped the bird"? Tell me...is this how YOUR MAMMA taught YOU how to behave? Another fine representation of the Republican party.

    April 28, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Jeff M.

    This guy is really the had of the GOP?

    April 28, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Jim D, IL

    And therin lies the problem with Michael Steele running the Republican party. It's like letting the village idiot handle all of the money.

    April 28, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. arithmetic is liberal

    When you hang a sword over every Republican moderate's head, then the best idea is to step out from under the sword.

    I wouldn't so much call this a "flip the bird" as "survival of the fittest".

    Speaking of survival of the fittest, Mr. Steele, how did NY-20 work out for you?

    April 28, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. Scott

    I can understand why the GOP would be surprised by the move. But, it doesn't look like they are getting the point--the PA GOP, Steele, etc...are crying "sour grapes" ("he'll lose in the primary, anyway" or "this is how he repays us"). Guys, it's about bringing IN new people, not cursing them out of the party......Someone just needs to slap them in the face and tell them to snap out of it. Come back to reality.....

    April 28, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. Barbara Independent in NY

    The GOP allowed the right wing conservatives to hijack the party. They don't always share the same ideas. My father would not recognize the Republican party now. Arlen Specter has always tried to represent the voters of his state. Obviously the GOP wants people that put party first.

    April 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. Kate,Saratoga Springs, New York

    Michael Steele is just another reason why the Republican Party is going down the tubes and fast. This man that they elected to head their party is a joke. The RNC elected him to this position trying to make him look like "their OBAMA". OMG no way. He is neither intelligent, articulate. Not fit to shine our President's shoes!

    I bet Senator Spector is shaking in his boots thinking that Steele is going to come after him with "everything they have". Which as we all know isn't much.

    April 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  17. katiec

    Doesn't Steele realize the American people have been "flipping the bird at the republican party for months??

    April 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  18. Robert in Georgia

    "I'm sure his mama didn't raise him that way". Is this man serious? What as an adult speaks this way. Glad he's a Republican and not a Democrat.

    April 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  19. Mike O'Brien

    Do you blame him for 'flipping the bird' at the Republican Party ? I have lost all faith in the Republican Party and so has Senator Arlen Spector. There will be more. Maybe, Megan McCain was right and I am 62. Maybe the dead wood or total embarrassment of the following Republicans (i.e., Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Rush and Ann Coulter, etc) should.., "just go away" and leave us alone to rebuilt the Republican Party.., because you sure didn't. Maybe, we should look at the future of the Republican Party and 'not' look back or backwards. Mike in Montana

    April 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. gop go away

    When Steele made reference Senator Spector's mother over his decision, he went over the line in political criticism. Just like the republicans.

    April 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. Dan

    Don't you remember, Mr. Steele? The Republican Party flipped the bird at Senator Specter. Don't throw excrement at the fan and act astonished when you're covered in it!

    April 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  22. Nestor Oropeza

    Specter is doing the right decision. Steele is not taking anybody out !!!

    April 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. Sean Schubert

    So the parties traded Dumpy Joe Lieberman and Arlen Specter. I think the Dems got the better end of this deal. Sure, Dumpy Joe is registered as an Independent, but it's hard not to find him sitting on some Rep's lap and looking awfully content. Maybe instead of threatening the man, Steele should consider the reasons why a 40 plus year Rep would say that his line of thinking is more in line with the Dems. Maybe this is purely political opportunism, but it could also represent a bigger issue with the GOP. I don't think it is healthy for the US to only have a two viable party political system. It is potentially fatal to have a single party system and that's how it appears we are headed. Hopefully the Reps will get this figured out and keep at least a healthy debate cooking on Capitol Hill.

    April 28, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  24. Typical Republican Slur...

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

    What? A person makes a decision and a supposedly professional makes this comment? There are no morals in the supposed moral Republican party...another personal attack and not focused on the issues...

    ...such as the republicans nominating only extremley conservative religious based courts, nominating only extremely conservative judges to the supreme court, stem cell research, and on top of that saying that they are the fiscal responsible party...look at the last eight years and the republicans not including the cost of the wars in the budget...putting the cost outside of the budget as a side item of the budget and misrepresenting the actual budget deficits over the last eight years...

    The Republican's caused this mess and now it is time for them to be marginalized...and thank God it is happening...

    April 28, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  25. Chris ~ Albany, NY

    Really? Are ya really gonna villanize one of your very own for the last 40+ years?!?!?! Way to go GOP. hahahahahahahahaha

    April 28, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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