March 18th, 2009
02:34 PM ET
13 years ago

Specter staying in the GOP - for now

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. Arlen Specter said he's staying a Republican."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter says he's staying a Republican - but said an independent run is "always something that could be a possibility."

"I'm staying a Republican because I think I have a more important role to play there," he told The Hill earlier this week. "I think the United States very desperately needs a two-party system. … And I'm afraid that we're becoming a one-party system, with Republicans becoming just a regional party."

The moderate senator was one of three Republicans to vote for the stimulus bill - a move, he later said, that put him in some "political peril."

A likely primary re-match from Club for Growth president Pat Toomey - coupled with recent surveys that showed him receiving far higher marks from Democrats than from GOP voters - has sparked speculation the vulnerable incumbent might bolt the party.

"It's pretty hard to run without a party," Specter told The Hill. "It's always something that could be a possibility. But then I wouldn't be in the Republican caucus - wouldn't have quite the standing as a Republican."

He said that if he decided to run as an Independent, he would continue to caucus with Republicans, just like Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Independent, votes along with Democrats.

But Specter would have a harder decision than Lieberman, decided to run as an Independent after losing the Democratic primary in 2006. Pennsylvania election laws force candidates to declare their party affiliation before the primary.

Filed under: Arlen Specter
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. lovable liberal

    The US *does* need a two-party system, but the current Republican Party is so extreme that it needs to be replaced by a better center-right party, one not so much in thrall to Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson (strange bedfellows, that pair).

    March 18, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Jim

    Um, no. We desperately need a three party system, at the minimum. With a two party system things gravitate towards the extremes as the parties try to appease their respective radical base. These are people that cannot be happy unless everything is exactly how they want it. Which of course would make everyone else unhappy. The vast majority of the population don't need things to be in an extreme to be happy.

    March 18, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. Bob in Pa

    That, my friends, is an example of being too hungry for power.

    March 18, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. alvino

    Senator Specter, Independent, has a nice ring to it. I hope he too, leaves the dark side.

    March 18, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  5. yuri

    And we hear a heave and sigh of relief from the GOP, for now. If he defects, all hell will break lose ,and RL will rush to a rash decision of rattlin' the repubs' with a Rambo-like rage. Who knows? He may even endorse it , eventually, if everything evaporates, endin' his evasive enthusiasm.

    March 18, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Archi

    A voice of reason in the wilderness

    March 18, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. slickingdom

    When I was a young voter my mother (may god bless her soul) would
    always tell me before I went to the polls, "vote for Arlen Specter". We (as
    a Democratic family) had much respect for the "man" as opposed to
    just "plain old political ideology".

    March 18, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. Kent in CA

    It would seem a reasonable strategy for moderate Pennsylvania Democrats to switch parties in order to support this man in the primary. I'm saying that with a full view of how important it is to hit that 60 seat majority (especially in light of Justice Ginsberg's health challenges).
    But Senator Specter has made it plain to his constituents and to all Americans that he is a man of conscience and integrity.
    I am a liberal Democrat, but were I a Pennsylvania resident, I would stand firmly behind this honorable man.

    Thank you, Senator, and best of luck on the road ahead.

    March 18, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  9. FreeNLovingIt

    Anyone who wishes to do what is right for America, should become an independent. THis way, you can do what is right for America.

    March 18, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  10. Diana NJ

    Does this mean because, Senator Specter can rise above Politics and do things that he feels are best for his citizens.. and earn the respect of the opposition... the GOP does not want him any longer?... Maybe that is what is wrong with the GOP ..

    March 18, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  11. Jaybird

    I'm from his probable opponent's (Toomey) district. If you liked Rick Santorum, you'll love Toomey.

    March 18, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. pete

    I am from PA and I cannot stand this man. He has never been a Rebublican. He is more Demorcat then anything. He needs to go.

    March 18, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Larry

    Thank you sir ...

    For having the courage to stand for something bigger than yourself

    You sir are a true American ...

    March 18, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. PATC

    He signed the spendulous Bill so he supports the AIG Bonuses. Don't give me I didn't read it. He voted for it he is mea culpa.

    March 18, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Gary

    In general I always liked Spector whether he is a Republican or Democrat....but when he voted for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid's Pork program (they labeled stimulus) and commit us to such huge debt, I lost a lot of respect for him. If he is going to vote in such a fiscally irresponsible manner than it maybe time for him to retire.

    March 18, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. David C

    Please go away.

    March 18, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Pete's comment is an outstanding example of what is wrong with our country.

    Advocating blind loyalty to one party or another is not the best way to govern: vote for the person, not the party. Obvious that the thoughtful people of Pennsylvania know who attempts to do the best job for state and country. The fact the GOP is targeting Spector reflects poorly on the GOP, not the man.

    March 18, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. thomas

    Arlen. Arlen. Arlen. Just because you're an intelligent thoughtful person who puts the country ahead of personal interests, you don't have to leave the republican party. If money beats you in the primary, all you have to do is pull a Liebermann and you'll be a shoo-in. We've got your back.

    March 18, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. Big Al

    Arlen – If Bush had not pulled your chestnuts from the fire, you would have been history in 04. It's time for the Republican Party to hold their representatives and senators accountable for the votes they cast. May you be the first to experience that accountability.

    March 18, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. C


    March 18, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  21. Truth Bomb Thrower

    THIS GUY NEEDS TO BE RETIRED! Why the Pennsylvania republicans have put up with this RINO (republican in name only) for so long, I have no idea. He is obviously more of a democrat than a republican. I'm thinking about contributing to whoever runs against this backstabber in the republican primary.......and I don't even live in PA.

    March 18, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  22. usualone

    Mr. Specter is a thinking man and thinking woman's kind of guy. He is for the country and not for the party. I hope more people realize this, and not just follow their own party's propaganda. And one wonders why people have to be so nasty if they disagree with him. I hope the nasties are only this way because they can hide under the Internet umbrella of anomity.

    March 18, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. Rick

    Good riddance Arlen, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    March 18, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  24. greg

    and when he leaves,,, we will be a one party system,,, do any of you remember what happens? lets go amerika,,, kill the ones you do not like ,, that leaves , the ones who might dislike each other,, oh well.. see were it ends??

    March 18, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  25. brenda

    this man just needs to retire....for an eternity.

    March 18, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |