Philadelphia Daily News 11/29/2005 John Baer Arlen sticks to the points, etc.: " Posted on Tue, Nov. 29, 2005
John Baer Arlen sticks to the points, etc.
AND NOW an Arlen update. Or, how the senator just keeps going.
Says his health is "excellent," says the president was misled on the run-up to war and further investigation is warranted. Says Roe v. Wade stands, so does Santorum, but no casinos should stand in Gettysburg.
His comments came during an hour-long session yesterday with journalists, live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.
The 75-year-old senior senator, 25 years in Congress, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, remains outspoken and controversial - though, in some cases, without specifics.
A Republican known for not parroting his party, Specter says he doesn't believe President Bush misled America in going to war in Iraq, but "I think he probably was misled by some" - unnamed - "in the intelligence community."
(And the withdrawal call made by U.S. Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa.? "I don't agree with him, but I think we ought to listen to him.")
Also, as Specter prepares to lead confirmation hearings in early January for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, he acknowledges abortion is "the dominant issue."
Asked if Roe might be overturned with Alito on the bench, Specter (who supports a woman's right to choose) notes the nearly 33-year-old decision guaranteeing abortion rights has been reviewed by the high court in 38 cases. It is, he says, "fairly well-established principle."
Asked directly if he thinks it stands, he says, "I'll give you a head-on answer. I think it will." He, of course, won't say how he votes on Alito.
On his health: A little more than nine months after he announced having Hodgkin's lymphoma, he says he is not under treatment, that his chemotherapy ended, "July 22 at 11:22 a.m." He gets periodic checkups, but "they say I'm in the clear."
He notes President Nixon started a war on cancer (in 1971) and says if the nation spent on it what it spends on "other wars," he might never have had cancer.
His hair is back, now short and darkish gray, not the odd frizzy reddish it once was. His energy level seems good, actually visibly higher the longer the interview goes. And his command of issues, including dates and details, remains impressive.
Oh, and he still plays squash, daily. And sticks to his predictions.
On Sen. Rick Santorum: He says reports that Santorum's in trouble (a Rasmussen Reports poll this month says he trails Democrat Bob Casey Jr. by 20 points, 54-34) are "vastly overblown." Says Santorum's only "in midstream," does lots for the state, is a hard worker and, "I still think Rick is going to win."
Specter reiterated that Santorum's re-election is his "top priority." Santorum was key in getting Specter past a challenge from the right by then-U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey in last year's GOP Senate primary.
Specter says he'll speak for Santorum early and often, continue to raise money for him and even put Santorum's name first on joint press releases announcing goodies for the state. (One has to understand Arlen's love of publicity to fully appreciate this gesture.)
After the broadcast, asked about anti-incumbent sentiment, Santorum's abysmal (for an incumbent) polling numbers, and pressed as to whether Santorum's in trouble, Specter just says, "No."
Actually he says, "No, no, no."
Gambling in Gettysburg? It's suggested a good venue for a slots casino. "I'm against gambling," he says. Opposed it since he was Philly D.A. (in the 1960s): "It breeds organized crime... infects a community." Says that in '72 he even tried to talk then-Gov. Milton Shapp out of starting a state lottery.
So there you have it. An update. And further proof, if any is needed, that the senator just keeps going."