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“I have traveled the state, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate.”
— Sen. Arlen Specter, who faced a difficult primary challenge by Pat Toomey of the ultra-conservative Club for Growth.
“I don’t want to be a member of the Club for Growth. I want to be a member of a vibrant national Republican party that can attract people from all corners of the country — and we can govern the country from a center-right perspective…. As Republicans, we got a problem.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC
““I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than to have 60 that don’t have a set of beliefs.”
— Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC
“I happened to win with 74 percent of the vote in a blue-collar state, but no one asked me, ‘How did you do it?’ Seems to me that would have been the first question that would have come from the Republican Party to find out so we could avoid further losses. … Ultimately, we’re heading to having the smallest political tent in history, the way things are unfolding.”
“Guess now that Larry Craig is gone & Specter realized there was no teabagging at the teaparty, he had to go Dem for Frank to fondle him.”
— RedState.com founder Erick Erickson, on Twitter.
“”[National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John] Cornyn went out on the line for this man. 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 downright rude. I’m sure his mama didn’t raise him this way.”
— RNC Chair Michael Steele
“RINO Specter is the first to go! He knows that we conservatives are taking back the party and there’s simply no room for him. He’s just showing his true colors and being what he has been all along: a DEMOCRAT!!!!!! Now, if we could only dump Snowe and Collins….”
a Free Republic poster
“We may not have liked or trusted Spector, but he gave the Republicans a very small margin of error. Franken will be seated and there you go. Moreover, there are now no Republicans from the border of NH to VA. We cannot go on like this unless there we can pick up strength in some other places. And that is not going to happen anytime soon.
There are no blue states turning purple and there are no purple states turning red. But there are a number of red states turning purple and a number of purple states turning blue.”
— A more sane Free Republic poster
“You don’t have to be a particular fan of Specter (I’m not) to think that today’s news is bad, to say the least, and, yes, the position in which Specter now finds himself must mean that he shifts (further?) left, taking, in a very real sense, the country with him.
Sometimes (to borrow Lenin’s phrase), the worse can be better, but sometimes the worse is simply worse.”
— Andrew Stuttaford, NRO’s The Corner
“My initial reaction on hearing the news was that after generating a bunch of Democratic House seats, the Club for Growth has now produced its first Democratic senator. I assume that Specter’s votes will now move leftward.”
— Ramesh Ponnuru, NRO’s The Corner
“I think the threat to the country presented by this defection really relates to the issue of whether or not in the United States of America our people want the majority to have whatever it wants, without restraint, without a check or a balance…. This is not a national story, this is a Pennsylvania story.”
— Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
“I think this shows the folly, from the point of view of expanding Republican numbers in Congress, of Pat Toomey’s candidacy. His chances of winning a general election, in my judgment, were far lower than they were in 2004, when he ran against Specter and lost the primary by only a 51%-49% margin. …. In between some 200,000 Pennsylvania voters switched their party registration from Republican to Democratic. This does not seem to have been just an opportunistic move to vote in a particular primary but the sign of a genuine switch in allegiance. And it’s not just a Pennsylvania phenomenon. Republican party identification has sagged significantly since 2004 in most parts of the nation.”
— Conservative political analyst Michael Barone