Longtime GOP Senate moderate Arlen Specter has Died
No-nonsense Senator alienated Republicans by switching to Democratic Party in 2009
Senator Arlen Specter was known for his gruff demeanor. Many remember him as an independent-minded moderate who spent three decades in the U.S. Senate. He alienated his friends in GOP when he switched to the Democratic Party in 2009 when he said the party had grown "too conservative." Specter has passed away due to complications from non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He was 82.
Known for steering a moderate course during an era when the two major U.S. political parties became increasingly divided, Senator Arlen Specter often broke with the Republicans. Frequently testy and opinionated, he was dubbed by some as "Snarlin' Arlen" and "Specter the Defector."
Specter was a former prosecutor who frequently riled both people on the right and left sides of the political spectrum. Elected to five six-year terms starting in 1980, Specter was on his way to becoming Pennsylvania's longest-serving U.S. senator.
Known for steering a moderate course during an era when the two major U.S. political parties became increasingly divided, Specter often broke with the Republicans. Frequently testy and opinionated, he was dubbed by some as "Snarlin' Arlen" and "Specter the Defector."
Specter left the Republican Party after 44 years when he concluded he could not win his party's primary in Pennsylvania in 2010 against a conservative challenger. A re-election bid in 2010 ended in failure when he was beaten by a liberal challenger for the Democratic nomination.
Specter served on the controversial Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. He also helped devise the disputed "single-bullet" theory," that supported the idea of a lone gunman.
Specter was also crucial in increasing U.S. spending on biomedical research.
Specter helped one conservative, Clarence Thomas, confirmed as a Supreme Court justice in 1991, while torpedoing the Supreme Court nomination of another conservative, Robert Bork, in 1987.
Specter angered liberals during the Thomas confirmation hearings with prosecutorial questioning of Anita Hill, a law professor who had accused Thomas of sexual harassment. Specter accused Hill at one point of "flat-out perjury."
Specter annoyed fellow Republicans by voting "not proven" on impeachment charges against President Bill Clinton in 1999, helping prevent the Democrat from being ousted from office over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Specter unsuccessfully sought the 1996 Republican presidential nomination. He had several health scares, undergoing open-heart surgery and surgery for a brain tumor, as well as chemotherapy for two bouts of Hodgkin's lymphoma.
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