US Senator Arlen Specter visited Thiel College in Greenville, PA today. He was in the area to stump for local candidates Congressman Phil English, State Senator Bob Robbins, and Mercer Co. Commish (and State Rep. wannabe) Michele Brooks. Oddly, none of them had the courtesy to appear with the state's senior senator - even though all three are moderates, too!
Specter spoke for nearly fifteen minutes before opening up the program to audience questions. He was in true "Arlen the Moderate" form. Below are the topics and the responses.
On moderates voting for Santorum, not Casey: "I don't expect (Santorum) to agree with all of my votes. I don't even agree with some of my votes after I have the opportunity to learn more. Santorum's seniority is very important to the state. I have nothing negative to say about Casey, but I think Rick could do more than Casey can do." "(Santorum) is in a tough race, but we are doing what we can to help him win."
On Casey bringing up Specter's name during the debate: "I thought it was a good tactic (laughter). Santorum is a very hard-working senator." He also mentioned Rick's position and what he can do in DC and in the future.
On the international front: "The United States faces enormous perils." Iraq is in a "state of chaos at present time." NoKo: "It is intolerable situation to have an unstable government with nuclear weapons." The multilateral talks with NoKo and Iran should continue, but the US should have "one-on-one negotiations with both." We should "show (Iran) a little respect, a little dignity" like Reagan did with Bresnev.
On enemy combatants: In the recently passed bill, "I opposed the suspension of Habeus Corpus" and "I think the Court will remove" the language allowing suspension. "There are parts of the bill which I though were important" so "I voted for it." "The Court is the final arbitor," but "I don't like it." If (prisoners) are enemy combatants, and you can verify that, they (the US) can detain them." "They are not POWs."
On wiretaps: "We have a bill that will preserve current cases...and other cases can be consolidated at the FISA court, then go to the Supreme Court" for review on legality of wiretaps. "If the President is able to show, and the threat is determined to be real, then (the US) can do it."
On student involvement in politics: Students should "be actively engaged in political and public life."
On current politcal atmosphere: "We have the fringes of both parties taking control. That is not good for America." The US "need to be governed by the center."
On campaign finance: "I am studying and...considering legislation for public financing" of campaigns.
On ethics, scandals in DC: "Just because there are a few bad apples doesn't mean the whole barrel is bad." "I don't think that's fair (for incumbants to be judged on Former Rep. Foley's behavior). Everyone should be judged individually." "It's odd to have (an FBI raid on Rep. Weldon's daughter) so close to an election." "I think he's an effective guy and an honest guy."
On the judiciary committee: "I asked (Ted) Kennedy why he didn't discuss (the Alito subpoena) when we were in the hall...it seems Kennedy thought he was chair of the committee" (laughter). "I don't ever run into (Kennedy) at the gym. He hasn't been in the gym since the Johnson administration - the Andrew Johnson administration" (laughter).
On potential SCOTUS nominees and their pro-life views: "I never believed in a litmus test. Because someone is pro-life doesn't mean they will upset Roe (vs. Wade). You can't pin a nominee down on how he or she will vote." "I'm against abortion, but I don't think government can control it." "The Court does make decisions that need to be recersed from time to time, but I think they have been a stabilizing force." "I'd like to televise the Court so the public can see the power that they have."