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The Specter that haunts Santorum

A couple of updates on yesterday’s post about the race for the Repub nomination

After the Wednesday night debate in Arizona between the Repub candidates for president, I dwelled on the contorted logic by which Mitt Romney argued that Rick Santorum is to blame for Obamacare because he endorsed his fellow Pennsylvania senator, Arlen Specter, for a new term in 2004, and how Santorum argued that his endorsement of Specter actually assured the continued dominance of conservatives on the Supreme Court because, before endorsing Specter, he had extracted a commitment from Specter to support the upcoming Bush nominees to the Supreme Court.

The exchange may have legs. Romney has put out a new ad featuring Specter with video of Santorum endorsing him (the slightly zombified look and sound of Santorum in the video when he says he’s proud to endorse Specter is pretty hilarious). I’ll embed the video below.

Writing for the Washington Post blog The Fix, Aaron Blake digs up the eight-year-old coverage of Santorum’s Specter endorsement and calls it “arguably Santorum’s greatest sin as a U.S. senator” in the eyes of those who are looking for a pure conservative and who hate Washington insiderism and horse trading.

But it gets worse for Santorum. Specter (now retired after becoming a Democrat, casting the deciding vote for Obamacare and losing for reelection in 2010) gave a bunch of interviews yesterday in which he flatly denied that he had given Santorum any promise to support Supreme Court nominees in exchange for the endorsement.

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If you listen to the Specter interviews or view the quotes closely, the denials may be a tad technical. Specter doesn’t deny that a discussion occurred that may have included both Santorum’s plan to endorse him and the upcoming Supreme Court nominations.

Specter only says that he didn’t give Santorum any firm commitments to back the appointment of future justices who hadn’t even been nominated yet, because that would be completely inappropriate.  Specter, who as Senate Judiciary Committee chair presided over the confirmation hearings of both Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts, did end up supporting both nominations.

Anyway, here’s the new Romney ad tying the specter of the Specter endorsement around Santorum’s neck, and with:

“If Rick Santorum couldn’t say no to liberal Arlen Specter, can we really trust him to change Washington?”