Republicans seek dough to help defeat Specter after his defection
Reaction among Republicans to Senator Arlen Specter’s decision to defect to the Democratic party ranged from somber disappointment to outrage, and now the Republican National Committee hopes to capitalize on that anger.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele sent an e-mail to supporters expressing his outrage and disbelief that Specter was blaming his fellow Republicans for leaving. He beseeched party members to send in donations to help defeat Specter in the 2010 election.
“He simply believes he has a better chance of saving his political hide and his job as a Democrat,” Steele said in the e-mail. “He loves the title of senator more than he loves the party — and the principles — that elected him and nurtured him.”
In Steele’s bid to gin up donations, he told supporters: “Some will use Specter’s defection as an excuse to fold the tent and give up. I believe that you are not one of those people. When Benedict Arnold defected to the British, George Washington didn’t fold the tent and give up either.”
Specter, who has broken with Republicans on several key votes, said that he decided to switch parties because the Republican party swerved further to the right and he recognized he would not likely survive a primary challenge against a more conservative Republican in Pennsylvania.
He was greeted at the White House on Wednesday with open arms by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden — which will likely spark more cash appeals from Republicans.
Specter and Obama acknowledged that the two would likely differ in the future. To that end, a key test vote will come later on Wednesday when the Senate votes on the Democratic-authored fiscal 2010 budget blueprint. Specter opposed the Senate version earlier this month.
“I know the decision Senator Specter made yesterday wasn’t easy. It required long and careful consideration, and it required courage,” Obama said. “But I know that it also reflects an independence that has been the hallmark of Arlen Specter’s career since the days he arrived in Washington.”
Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Specter speaks to reporters at the White House with Obama and Biden looking on); Illustration of Specter courtesy of Paul Szep