Specter says San­to­rum not ‘up to be­ing the pres­i­dent’ as barbs flow

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY DAVID ELDRIDGE

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

“I don’t think Rick San­to­rum is up to be­ing the pres­i­dent of the United States,” Mr. Specter 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,” the Re­pub­li­can-turned-demo­crat said, but he ac­knowl­edged that the for­mer House speaker’s “bag­gage” likely has cost Mr. Gin­grich a real shot at the Re­pub­li­can nom­i­na­tion.

The other ma­jor can­di­date in the race, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, has an im­age prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Specter. “He doesn’t project ‘pres­i­dent,’ “he said.

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

Mr. Rom­ney has ripped Mr. San­to­rum for his en­dorse­ment of Mr. Specter, then a mod­er­ate Re­pub­li­can, against con­ser­va­tive chal­lenger Pa­trick J. Toomey, in the 2004 Re­pub­li­can Se­nate pri­mary.

On Sun­day, Mr. San­to­rum said 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 fine­tun­ing 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 back­ing off the 2004 en­dorse­ment.

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

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

But the 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 of Ne­vada.

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 with him to the Demo­cratic Party, cost him the pri­mary to Demo­cratic chal­lenger Joe Ses­tak.

Mr. Ses­tak would go on to lose the gen­eral elec­tion to Mr. Toomey.

J.M. ED­DINS JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Arlen Specter, ex-se­na­tor from Penn­syl­va­nia, said that Newt Gin­grich “might make a pretty good pres­i­dent” but that his “bag­gage” will likely cost him the nom­i­na­tion.

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