April 29th, 2009
01:31 PM ET
6 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. Indie Voter

    My entire family voted for Obama this election; the first time most of them have ever voted for a Democrat. Their decisions were based entirely because the focus of the Republican party has shifted from fiscal responsibility (which was not even present during the past eight years) to extreme social conservatism.
    Clearly we can question whether or not his stimulus plan is going to work, and whether or not this is the best economic plan, but certainly his social policies are much more inclusive than the G.O.P.'s.

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

    The party of extremism=the party of 20%

    April 29, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Dave

    If the Republicans would ditch the social conservative crap and stick to strictly fiscal conservatism they would have a much larger voting base. As long as they are defined by the religious right, their numbers and influence will continue to dwindle.

    April 29, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. nani

    Arlen Specter is afraid of being out of job. It 's not surprise to change to Democrats.
    The country will be always divided. We are .not all agree with Obama.
    It is a long way to go!
    And we all have a short memory !
    We still many are out of jobs in this country.

    April 29, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Josh

    21% 21% 21%...................
    Does anyone remember this number?
    That's number of people who think Bush did a good job as Pres. Reemeber? the same that continues to believe that we were attacked by Iraq. The same that believe thet earth is flat and that is no such thing as global warming, the one that has the congress woman from Minnesota that claims CO2(carbondioxide) is not harmsful. Hmmmm!!

    Please let them self distruct – keep their heads in whole and never let it out.

    April 29, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. Greg, PA

    As a Pennsylvania voter and a self-described left-leaning moderate, I think the state GOP has been taken over by the ultra-conservative fringe and has allowed social issues to dominate its agenda. They have lost touch with Pennsylvania voters and I fully embrace Sen. Specter's switch. He will have my full support and my vote.

    Olympia Snowe is an excellent politician – she's intelligent, fair, and reasonable, and she was even ranked as one of the top 10 senators. I think the RNC would do well to listen to her and Sen. Specter. They're alienating people and we need a strong Republican Party in order to maintain political balance in this country.

    April 29, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. BILL, WI

    Rush and other far-right voices of the repubs are attacking moderate repubs. The Moveon and other left voices of the dems are attacking moderate dems. Maybe the moderates of each party should consider a centrist party, that would accomodate center-left and center-right.

    April 29, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  8. TomJay

    Ms. Snowe must recognize that the old Republican Party that she joined in her youth, the party of fiscal discipline and civil rights and individual freedom, has died. The name of the Republican Party has been co-opted by right wing religious no-nothing people who are alien to her constituents in Maine. As with Arlen Specter, while the Democrats may not share all of her views, she has much more of a chance to affect the Democratic Party policy than she does of affecting the Republican Party policy. Ms. Snowe might as well jump to the Democratic Party to regain some relevance in Washington.

    April 29, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. rick

    Walk towards the light.

    April 29, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. Emily

    Come join us on the dark side Olympia. We have cookies.

    April 29, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. shane

    Kudos to you senator snowe now. Come to the side that makes sense.you
    Won't regret it.

    April 29, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. prairieguy

    I'm glad the Maine Republican Party is NOT part of the right wing. They appreciate someone who is a moderate and wants to serve the people of their state and not the pasrty.

    Good going Snowe....I wish you could convince others in the party to think as you do but alas I think it is a lost cause.

    April 29, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. Puff the Magic Dragon

    Somebody in the GOP finally realizes they are eating their own. Fascinating.

    April 29, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  14. Kriss Inverness

    Sen Snowe, you should be concerned with what your state electors think about you, since you supported the huge bailouts too which is what god Specter in trouble with republicans in PA.

    April 29, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. Task

    Snowe isn't even a real republican. She votes democrat 80% of the time. Why can't these people be honest and quit lying to their parties. She's a moderate democrat, not a republican by any stretch of the imagination. At least Specter only voted democrat 56% of the time.

    April 29, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Too True For You

    Senator Snowe, the true party of the big tent welcomes your insight and stands ready to welcome you yourself when the conservative tin horn punditocracy tosses you into the meat grinder (again).

    Your daring in expressing indpendent thought and not abjectly prostrating yourself sufficiently before their altar of party before country means Rush will soon be asking us to take you in as well, anyway. And we have seen how important the decrees of Rush are to the party.

    April 29, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. Willy Brown

    Snowe please cross the isle. Come out of the closet

    April 29, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. Kurt C.

    Actually, the Republican party has become too much like Democrats. That's their problem. Who wants Democrat-lite when you can have the full thing. George Bush was basically a liberal.

    April 29, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. Mark in Omaha

    I identify myself as a Moderate, I changed my party affiliation to Independent this past year. What remains of the Reagan years is a cast of Right Wing pandering hate mongers and separatists like that clown Limbaugh. Alienating the Moderate Republicans is like killing off the middle class. Time for the Republican party to go the way of the dodo.

    April 29, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. LouAZ

    Repubs, DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS WOMAN ! SHE MAKES SENSE !!!

    April 29, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. Joe

    Looks like the republican leadership, not satisfied with only being a minority party, wont rest until they are insignificant and only the 3% of the country with their exact way of thinking will be allowed in. They'll still insist they're in the majority, and that crazy liberal media conspiracy is keeping the poll numbers artificially low and ACORN is stealing all the elections.

    As much as I love watching the Republican's implode, this really is starting to scare me. The only thing worse than a 2 party system is a one party system. Sen. Specter, instead of joining the Democrats, maybe you could get some of your fellow Moderates, in both parties, to form a third viable party. I think that would do wonders for the political landscape.

    April 29, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. Michael

    I think Senator Snowe should follow Senator Specter's lead and make a similar move. She is absolutely right that her party has been highjacked by extremists and, as a result, she spends too much time dragging around the anchor that comes with being a moderate in an extremist right-wing organization. She would be far more able to influence legislation and come to compromise and consensus on the important issues we face if she was free of the Republican baggage.

    April 29, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. Lucas

    I think that this past election demonstrated the two types of republicans: the McCain republicans and the Palin republicans.

    The McCain republicans stand for something, they have conservative values, and a way that they want the country to work. They may not be the most charismatic of eloquent of speakers, but they are smart and have good plans. They might not make a great soundbite, but they're more than willing to sit down with you to explain their views and answer questions.

    The Palin republicans have no integrity. They latch onto whichever key issues are convenient, make quick talking points to rile up the crowds, but whenever cornered or confronted on inconsistencies simply change the subject. They are the rulers of the soundbites, but usually shun the media and will not engage in elongated discussions where they don't control the forum.

    Palin republicanism is taking over the party, and it's driving honest, intelligent republicans to wonder exactly where they fit in.

    April 29, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. PAYGOs

    The problem for the Republicans is that the word "conservative" is used to convey two different things

    1.) no porn, no pot, no abortion, death penalty, no gay marriage
    and two
    2.) cut taxes and no spending on social programs (welfare, medicare, social security, etc.)

    We need a new word.

    So let's create the PAYGOs. The primary thing the PAYGO cares about is that the country is fiscal responsibility, spending no more than it earns.

    That way the "Conservatives can keep their social and fiancial positions and the PAYGOS can be set free.

    April 29, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. No Hillary = No Obama

    Party defections in order to gain reelection – these people just can't let it go – they are all so addicted to power, not purpose.

    April 29, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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