Santorum faces the spector of Specter

Last modified: 1/10/2012 12:00:00 AM
For a second time in the past week, Rick Santorum yesterday was pressed to defend his support of Sen. Arlen Specter during the 2004 GOP Senate race. Specter, a former senator from Pennsylvania who switched to the Democratic Party in 2009, supports abortion and gay rights and voted to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell.'

At a town hall in Somersworth yesterday, Dee Ide of Tuftonboro told Santorum she was disappointed to hear the candidate had supported Specter. Santorum described the 2004 endorsement as a political move made to ensure conservative Supreme Court justices were appointed to the bench, as Specter was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time. He said conservative justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito would not have been appointed had Specter not been re-elected.

'Particularly Alito I am confident would not be on the court today had I not done what I think was in the best interest of the country and not in my best political interest, I will assure you, as you probably heard,' Santorum told the group of more than 100 people. 'And it certainly wasn't in my best political interest in 2006 when I was running for re-election, was to stand up and support someone who at the time was not the best Republican.'

Santorum lost re-election in 2006 and yesterday described the decision to support Specter as one that hurt him politically but was beneficial to the Republican Party. 'If it's one senator for six years and a big hit for me politically versus two Supreme Court justices . . . for 30 years, I'll take it,' he said to a round of cheers from the audience.

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