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Specter: Santorum not ready for White House

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Former Sen. Arlen Specter, who has been trading barbs with Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum the past few days, said Wednesday his former Senate colleague isn’t ready for the Oval Office.

“I don’t think Rick Santorum is up to being the president of the United States,” the longtime Pennsylvania lawmaker told The Washington Times on Wednesday. “And I’m not sure Mitt Romney is either.”

But former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mr. Specter said, “might make a pretty good president.”

“Newt’s got a lot on his resume,” Mr. Specter, a Republican-turned-Democrat, said, but he acknowledged that Mr. Gingrich’s “baggage” likely has cost him a real shot at the Republican nomination.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, he said, has an image problem: “He doesn’t project ‘president.’”

Mr. Specter, promoting a new memoir on his final years in the Senate, “Life Among the Cannibals,” suddenly has become an issue in the Republican presidential contest between Mr. Santorum and Mr. Romney, the front-runner.

Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has ripped Mr. Santorum for his 2004 endorsement of Mr. Specter, then a moderate Republican who later defected to the Democrats.

On Sunday, Mr. Santorum said that backing Mr. Specter “certainly wasn’t one of my prouder moments.”

Mr. Specter, who has been practicing law, teaching at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and fine-tuning his stand-up comedy since leaving the Senate after losing the Democratic primary in 2010, said he and Mr. Santorum had a good relationship when they both served in the Senate, “though we had very deep differences philosophically.”

Mr. Specter said he isn’t especially bothered by Mr. Santorum’s most recent comments.

“I chalk it up to political expediency,” he said.

In his book, the 81-year-old Mr. Specter has kind words for Mr. Santorum, calling the junior senator’s help in the 2004 race “vital.”

But Mr. Specter, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, strikes a less forgiving tone when it comes to the Republicans who shunned him when he changed parties in 2009 and the Democratic Party leaders he says abandoned him after the switch, including President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Mr. Specter argues that Mr. Obama’s reluctance to campaign on his behalf in Pennsylvania in 2010, coupled with Mr. Reid’s failure to deliver on promises that his seniority would transfer to the Democratic Party, cost him the primary to Democratic challenger Joe Sestak. Mr. Sestak would go on to lose the general election to Republican Pat Toomey, whom Mr. Specter narrowly had defeated six years earlier.

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About the Author
David Eldridge

David Eldridge

David Eldridge joined The Washington Times in 1999 and over the next seven years helped lead the paper's coverage of regional politics and government, Sept. 11, and the sniper attacks of 2002. In 2006, he was named managing editor of the paper's website. He came to The Times from the Telegraph in North Platte, Neb., where he served as executive ...

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