April 29th, 2009
01:31 PM ET
5 years ago

Snowe: Moderate Republicans like 'Survivor' cast members

Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe likened moderate Republicans to participants on a reality television show known for isolating its members and picking them off one-by-one.
Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe likened moderate Republicans to participants on a reality television show known for isolating its members and picking them off one-by-one.

(CNN) - Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe called fellow colleague Sen. Arlen Specter's party defection disconcerning Wednesday, and likened moderate Republicans to participants on a reality television show known for isolating its members and picking them off one-by-one.

"Being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of "Survivor" - you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you're no longer welcome in the tribe," Snowe wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times.

The remarks follow Pennsylvania veteran Sen. Arlen Specter's unexpected defection to the Democratic Party on the eve of President Obama's 100th day in office. A member of the Republican Party since 1966, Specter announced his change of political affiliation to Democrat, citing the GOP has shifted too far to the right of his views and that his chance of winning the state Republican primary next year was bleak.

"It is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party," Snowe says. "It didn't have to be this way."

The moderate Republican senator from Maine blamed the GOP emphasis on conservative social values over the party's core fiscal principles as the reason for Republican voter losses.

"Ideological purity is not the ticket back to the promised land of governing majorities – indeed, it was when we began to emphasize social issues to the detriment of some of our basic tenets as a party that we encountered an electoral backlash," she writes. "We should view an expansion of diversity within the party as a triumph that will broaden our appeal."

"We cannot prevail as a party without conservatives. But it is equally certain we cannot prevail in the future without moderates," Snowe warns.


Filed under: Arlen Specter • Olympia Snowe • Republicans
soundoff (214 Responses)
  1. Bob

    The Republican party lost their hold when they moved away from fiscal conservatism and toward social issue extremism. People like Rush, Rove, Cheney, Boehner, Steele, are painting their party into a corner they will not be able to get out of. Only when moderate fiscal conservatives successfully stand up to the old boys club will they be able to move forward.

    April 29, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Jim

    Nice to see all the liberals are bashing anything that moves. Would not be a good day without listening to the far left attack the far right. Olympia Snowe is not a moderate. She has never voted moderate. She is at the least left of center. She uses the moderate moniker to try and get votes. Just like Specter. No doubt she is feeling the pressure. Testing the waters to see if the far left will bail her out. I guess you will. Heck you've bailed everything else in this country out. I'm glad it's you young folks that are going to have to pay for it. Retirement is looking good.

    April 29, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. johnrj08

    As David Gergen and Candy Crowley said on CNN last night, Republicans are feeding on themselves. Because Specter didn't toe-the-mark and vote along party lines, the RNC threatened to back his rival in the next primary. In other words, the RNC was trying to extort 100% loyalty from the Senator on every issue, regardless of his own personal stand. On top of that, Specter has watched his political party deteriorate on a daily basis, glorifying empty-headed, inept candidates and practicing obstructive politics on crucial national issues. The fact that Specter made the switch largely to ensure his political survival is no reason to excoriate him. The people who should be blamed are those who demanded that he walk away from his own personal convictions in order to stonewall a new president during a time of dire national crisis.

    April 29, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. a southern progressive

    it must be sad to be a free-thinking moderate republican.

    senator snowe, the progressives are waiting for you, whenever you are ready, the democrats will let you speak, and we will listen. unlike those others who only want to call you names and belittle you like school children.

    April 29, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. cb

    Sen. Snowe's account sure rings true for the Repub Party here in MN. Last year the few Repub legislators who voted against the party line on a key vote were immediately stripped of their committee leadership positions and most were reappointed. The "You are either with us or against us" theme remains in place.

    April 29, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. great commander in cheif

    the gop will survive, just as the democrats survived after carter and tip o'neal. people have short memories about the ebb and flow of electoral politics in this country. don't count the republicans out.

    the real question is: how long will it take for the pawlenty's, crists, snowes and others to marginalize the demints, the sanfords, palins and others. my guess is about 20 years.

    much ado was made about phil graham becoming a republican during the reagan years. he did so for the same reason that specter switched to being a democrat. his state was turning red all around him and his own philosophical views had shifted with them.

    those who remained in the democratic party worked to rebuild it as a more moderate party. my suspicion is that 20 years from now the republicans will rise again.

    i'm just enjoying the moment now and i look forward to the democrats bringing much needed change for the next 15 years or so.

    god bless america

    April 29, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. kj

    Hang in there Olympia.

    April 29, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. Shadysider

    The GOP has become nothing more than its base; consisting of religious zealots, NRA fanatics, and those unfortunates who have succumbed to actually believing FOX news. Thankfully, Specter and Snowe acknowledge this and I expect McCain, Collins, and other moderate (Reasonable) Republican lawmakers come to realize this when the GOP pushes for candidates that are more and more conservative. Their 'core values' are on the wrong side of social issues and they are not the fiscal conservatives they claim to be. A look at the proportional money allotted in earmarks is evidence of this. We need a 2nd Party, but the GOP is not it.

    April 29, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. David

    I see what she's saying. The Dems were the same with Lieberman. I remember these very message boards screaming to boot him from the party.

    April 29, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  10. Laverne

    "Because of what you have done at this defining moment, CHANGE HAS COME TO AMERICA"!

    April 29, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. cal

    Please by all means leave the Republican party. It would make everyone happy. Reps lose a traitor and Dems get a vote. If Dems make America great, great, if they screw up, they get all the blame. And trust me they will.

    April 29, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. Marie

    Wise lady and very thoughtful one of our country since so many others in her party is not.Ms. Snowe thank you for speaking like a true american and especially for those who voted for you...you sound more like a true leader of your party or is it because your a woman they'll say NO to you as with every other change that comes through the senate

    April 29, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  13. William Charlotte, NC

    Present day GOP barometer... anyone left of Rush, Beck, InHannity, Newt or Palin must go!

    April 29, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. carl

    There is plenty of room in the Dem Tent Senator.

    April 29, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Dan, TX

    The republican moderates will take the party back by 2016. Once they get trounced in 2012, they will rise up and kick Rush Limbaugh to the curb. I predict a republican president in 2016. That republican is going to be a lot like Obama, and will campaign on cutting spending and limited tax increases.

    April 29, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. Cali Mike

    Are the 200,000 Pennsylvania citizens who switched from republicans to democrats traitors to their country as well Mr. Steele?

    April 29, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. Simmy

    She feels like a cast member of the show 'Survivor' - What a line...Why keep torturing yourself Senator Snowe.....Come on over - We don't eat our own.....Peace and power prevail......God Bless The USA!!!

    April 29, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. Kevin in Ohio

    Olympia, bring your torch....its time for you to go.

    April 29, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. Will-South Dakota

    She might as well jump the sinking GOP ship now, with her Op-Ed piece, the GOP, RNC will now target her. Limbaugh will target her, Mitt, & Newt will target her and the Senate GOP leaership will target her. She's a brave woman leader.

    April 29, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. Real Change

    This seems like a very interesting choice of words to me. This is the second day in the row where she has declined to close the door on the possibility of a switch of her own.

    Stay tuned........

    April 29, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  21. John Round Rock, Texas

    The ideals of conservatism were supposedly championed by the Republican Party. AS you can see, they no longer are. It appears that we'll have to go through a real bummer of an economic meltdown before we can again get the attention of the vast number of people who think economics is a book in the library. People like to compare our stimulus package to the Chinese, who are also spending trillions of dollars on their economy – guess what??? They're doing theirs out of petty cash – ours... you liberal whiney dummies. Wake up and figure it out – you can't spend your way out of a financial meltdown – it only makes the day of reckoning that much worse. Half the country can't ride in the wagon. Most everyone has to get out and push. Obama told you that you don't have to – well, he's wrong. It will just take a little time to prove it to you because you slept through high school economics and partied your way through college... – oh, no college?..

    April 29, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. Jason

    If the republican party falls in on itself, where does that leave this country? How will we function with only one major party and independents? Maybe we need an Independent Party?

    April 29, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  23. barry in las vegas

    What Senetor Snowe isn't recognizing is that it is the PEOPLE who live in Penn. who appear to be voting Spector out of office.

    All Republicans are not conservative, but when you vote for a bill that is going to triple the deficit – there is a need for all Americans to be concerned.

    Spector seems to be a very political animal. He swtiched from Democrat to Republican in 1962. Now the wind is blowing the other way – and so is Spector. Who needs an unpricipled person like this representing them?

    April 29, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. WhoCares?

    And after Rush, Steele, Hannity, Beck and the others label her a traitor for these comments she will move over also.

    April 29, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. RepubliKLANs Are Plain STUPID

    ordinary americans are already living with this reality a long ago – wonder why someone would want to align themselves with the Grand "0" Party based ONLY ideological social issues – as gay marriage and abortion; there are far too many issues that affects americans than those SINGLE ISSUES, however inportant!

    Grand "0" Party is "NO" longer the party of Ronald Reagan...it's now a party of rednecks and deucebags from the extreme fringe right of bigots and rascist hatemongers!!!

    April 29, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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