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Specter is not worthy of GOP support

By Doug Patton
web posted April 26, 2004

RINO: An acronym for "Republican In Name Only." A confused creature most commonly found in the United States Senate. For more information, see "Olympia Snowe," "Lincoln Chafee" and especially "Arlen Specter."

At some point, George W. Bush and his chief political advisor, Karl Rove, apparently decided that supporting so-called "mainstream" Republicans, without regard to their political ideology, was a wise political strategy. I cannot imagine why, since their previous endorsements of liberal Republicans have been embarrassing disasters.

They did it in the 2002 California governor's primary by endorsing former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a pro-abortion, big-government liberal, over a solid fiscal and social conservative, businessman Bill Simon. Simon won that primary but went on to lose the general election to the now-discredited Gray Davis. The president went to California to campaign for Simon, but it was too little, too late. Now the Golden State has Arnold (Kennedy) Schwarzenegger in their governor's mansion.

The White House made the same blunder that year in the Iowa GOP primary campaign for the U.S. Senate. Middle-of-the-road GOP Congressman Greg Ganske was up against a conservative ex-marine farmer named Bill Salier for the Republican nomination to run against ultra-liberal incumbent Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin in the fall. With support from the president and the party apparatus, Ganske amassed ten times the financial resources available to Salier. Nevertheless, toward the end of the primary campaign, Salier was gathering so much momentum by the sheer force of his message that Ganske was forced to call upon the White House to pull out all the stops to save him from this upstart insurgency.

Ganske won that primary, but when the smoke had cleared, he discovered he had given up 41 percent of the vote to the young firebrand. Voters who desired a real alternative to Harkin instead got, in Ganske, exactly what Salier had predicted: "liberal-lite." Harkin easily won a fourth six-year term in the United States Senate.

This year, history is repeating itself. President Bush and the GOP establishment are supporting, endorsing and promoting the candidacy of Pennsylvania's senior senator, Arlen Specter. At 74, Specter has been in the senate for 24 years. In that time, he has made a career out of wearing the Republican label while championing liberal policies that are anathema to virtually everything in his party's platform.

Arlen SpecterKnown on the Hill as "Snarlin' Arlen" and "the meanest Senator in Washington," Specter is notorious for snubbing conservatives and their policies until he needs their support for re-election. His pitch is generally that for them to do otherwise might upset the delicate balance of power in the Senate. Well, this year, the pitch may not work, because Arlen Specter is facing the primary fight of his political life. This year a true Republican is in the race, a congressman named Pat Toomey, who actually supports GOP values. Imagine that.

This man would be the odds-on favorite if Specter were not running for a fifth term. But, of course, the GOP establishment won't give him the time of day.

Three weeks ago, Toomey was 15 points behind in the polls. Last week, the gap had closed to five points—so alarmingly close that Specter felt the need to call upon the President of the United States to come out and personally save him from a humiliating primary loss.

Dr. Greg Ganske has gone back to his cosmetic surgery practice in Des Moines. In Los Angeles, Richard Riordan is now retired. It is my sincere hope that very soon Arlen Specter will join them in some endeavor other than that of United States Senator. On Tuesday, April 27, the voters of Pennsylvania have a chance to send a real Republican Senator to Washington, and in the process send a message to the White House: Stop endorsing RINOs!

Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a speechwriter and policy advisor for federal, state and local candidates, elected officials and public policy organizations. His weekly columns are published in newspapers across the country, and on selected Internet web sites, including www.GOPUSA.com, where he serves as the Nebraska Editor. He also writes for Talon News Service. Readers can e-mail him at dpatton@neonramp.com.

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