April 28th, 2009
05:55 PM ET
13 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. TK

    Steele has a big mouth and blow a lot of hot air. One day he will find out that he is just the GOP house boy who nobody in their right mind will follow. He is no Obama!!! Just a want-a-be.

    April 28, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. Jamie

    Hey Michael, how does it feel to be on the receiving end of the 'bird'?
    Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rice, Rumsfield and the rest of that gang of criminals from 2000 thru 2008 flipped the bird at the rest of the nation all that time and you didn't seem to care then.

    April 28, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. Robert

    WOW...This Steele guy sounds like a BABY! Someone needs a nap.

    April 28, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. SJ Johnson

    Once again CNN chooses to step on my freedom of speech because I choose to express my opinion in a way that directly or indirectly exposes their sensitive far right wing conservative nerve and their need to maintain the same greedy mindset of the last 8 years. Get a clue or go the route of your party,a.k.a. the party of cowards......soon to be extinct

    April 28, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. stovall

    Steele you uncle tom foot shuffling nut, we dont care how you feel, the GOP isn't God its just a political party, Specter is a grown man who can choose what he wants. Stop the hate on Specter.

    April 28, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  6. Connie Niehus

    Thanks, Senator Spector, for leaving the party of losers.

    April 28, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  7. Kyle

    Remember how the DEMS castrated Joe when he switched? Let's start a grassroots effort to have all Republican PA votes switch to the DEMS and vote Benedict Spector out in the 2010 primary!

    April 28, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  8. soisay

    The RNC had no intention of "standing behind" Spector beyond token support with Toomey, the head of the "club for growth" running against him. As for Steele saying "we're coming after you", he forgot to add "just like in NY-20.

    April 28, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. Kim

    This is like a little 2 yr old sucking his thumb. Spector's poll numbers were in the toilet and basically he thought by switching sides, he might get Democrats to vote for him. He is such a joke. Now the Republicans don't like him and the Democrats don't trust him. I mean, who's to say if he doesn't like something the Dems say, that he just won't switch sides again.

    April 28, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. Regina

    To Mr. Steele:

    April 28, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. Really

    Who ever would have thought that the republican party would be defeated from the implosion from within? There is something to that Karma thing after all.

    April 28, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Will NYC

    hey about 70% of American's are flipping the bird at the GOP.... do you think they will get it anytime soon???

    April 28, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. JoJo

    Sen. Specter finally got his senses back. Mr. Steele would switch parties if he knew he had a job waiting for him.

    April 28, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. Kris

    Specter the Traitor. This is a dog that was never going to hunt anyway, it's better he's ran to the other side. The party accepting leftovers! Get it?

    April 28, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  15. southerncousin

    Having reread Spectors March 17th interview with the Hill on the subject, I would say that Arlen is a lying flip-flopper and should fit in just fine with the George Soros controlled Obama administration and the weirdos like Bobby Rush, Joe Biden, Jesse Jackson Jr. and that horrible cast of lying, cheating scum.

    April 28, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. John

    Steele invoking Specter's mother was classless. Clearly we can't expect the kind of sober and more thoughtful assessment from Steele that we saw from the likes of Snowe, Collins, McCain, and Graham – all Republicans. Steele's message: It's not the GOP's fault for failing to take care of one of its own; it's all about Specter.

    April 28, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. Clifford in New York

    C.N.N could please have the decency to explain why you are not posting my opinions!

    April 28, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. Doug

    Is Steele possibly as dumb as he sounds every time he opens his mouth? It is difficult to imagine that he is THAT dumb, but I guess it is possible. As a Dem, all I can say is, KEEP MICHAEL STEELE AS GOP CHAIRMAN. Please! What a joke he is. Thank you Maryland for keeping this fool out of the Senate.

    April 28, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  19. William Charlotte, NC

    Wise up Steele, 70% of the country is "flipping the bird" to this "right wing Rushlican party!' It is out of the main stream, clueless, idealess, regional and fast becoming irrelevant.
    You had better start listening to Meagan McCain and Schmidt rather than Bohener, Cronyn, Newt, Palin, Hannity, Beck the clown and Rush. This country is saying NO to your continuous "no's."

    April 28, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. wycliffe


    April 28, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  21. Shannon

    should we really have a member of the Maryland State Republican Legislature providing news content for CNN?

    April 28, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. Rick

    Specter is a coward. He knew he was going to lose the Republican nomination in the next primary so, rather than fight it out he has chosen to switch parties. He's a gutless coward. He'll fit right in with the democrat party.

    April 28, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  23. Wilberto Jimenez

    How can guys like Michael Steele sleep at night ? There's no reconciliation possible, because the national GOP refuses to consider the differences Specter has with the party. This "get with the program" crap doesn't fly either. Specter has a duty to his consituents, not to some political party that is twisted by special interests and the religious right.

    Any of you who don't question who it is you're voting for, because you're a straight-line Republican or Democrat should be ashamed.

    April 28, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. Barbara Ga

    I think it was very rude of the Republican party to trash our Constitution during the past eight years and to get rid of those
    "quaint" Geneva convention rules. Republicans either need to start admitting to their evil deeds or get out of the party.

    April 28, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |

    Hey Michael Steele the Republican pup tent wont hold you sine it only has room for Rush and Dick Cheney. Look for the Republican tent to be the source of the next swine epidemic. Oh yeah Mr porch Steele here is a finger for you too..

    April 28, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
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