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Anti-Specter Forces Aren’t Calling It Quits; Threaten Retaliation Against Santorum

Some vow to keep pressure on GOP, some target Santorum

Conservative activists who protested Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s bid to chair the Judiciary Committee are vowing are keep pressure on the liberal Republican and his Senate colleagues who have vowed to support him. A formal vote on Specter’s ascension won’t happen until January. Even though the nine Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are backing Specter, his support in the 55-member Senate Republican Conference remains unclear. “Anything can happen in two months,” said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, who led a protest against Specter earlier this week on Capitol Hill. “Let’s face the political realities, but I don’t think it’s both morally or strategically wise to throw in the towel this early.” Mahoney told HUMAN EVENTS his Christian Defense Coalition was still planning to hold a nationwide protest against Specter on December 9. On that day, constituents are encouraged to visit their senators’ home-state offices to voice their concerns about Specter. The conservative Concerned Women for America, one the most vocal anti-Specter groups, hasn’t relented in the wake of Specter’s concession Thursday to support President Bush’s nominees and move legislation through the committee, even if he opposes it. “The grassroots who have inundated the Senate with tens of thousands of e-mails and phone calls protesting Specter’s appointment as committee chairman will remain energized in holding Specter accountable,” said Jan LaRue, CWA’s chief counsel. Others, including Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family Action, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Gary Bauer of American Values, continued to criticized Specter, but didn’t promise any additional protests in the near future. With the backing of the nine Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, Specter has already locked up a crucial bloc of support among his colleagues. Other Republicans, including Senators Norm Coleman (Minn.), Trent Lott (Miss.) Richard Lugar (Ind.) and John McCain (Ariz.) have already said they would vote for Specter. Only Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.) has publicly expressed opposition to Specter. In an interview with HUMAN EVENTS this week, Inhofe said Hatch’s endorsement of Specter certainly eased tensions in the GOP and likely silenced opposition inside the party. “As of right now, I would still oppose him,” Inhofe said Wednesday. “But it’s meaningless, however, because I’d probably be the only one.” Mahoney said his December 9 protest would be designed to raise doubts with senators about Specter. He also said it’s an opportunity to assert the power of pro-lifers, who Mahoney said Republicans are taking for granted. “The pro-family, pro-life voting bloc is almost being viewed by the Republican Party as African Americans are viewed by the Democratic Party,” Mahoney said. “Specter getting to the Judiciary, although it’s very disturbing, I think is dwarfed by a larger problem. The Republican leadership truly does not respect nor understand our constituency.” Chief among Mahoney’s targets is Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. As the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, Mahoney said Santorum should be prepared to face a tough fight when he faces re-election in 2006. Santorum’s support for Specter in this year’s Pennsylvania primary angered conservatives, who preferred Rep. Pat Toomey. Toomey lost by a mere 17,000 votes of the more than 1 million that were cast. Despite Santorum’s friendship with Specter, he has stopped short of supporting his bid to become chairman of the Judiciary Committee. At a Wednesday press conference, Santorum said, “I think it would be presumptuous of me to direct the committee as to who they should appoint as their chairman.” Even if Santorum were to oppose Specter by voting against him when it reaches the Senate Republican Conference, Mahoney said it wouldn’t have much of an impact with the pro-life community. “We’re going to use Senator Santorum as a template,” Mahoney said. “Because of what he has done with Specter — putting party over principle — we are going to work to see that he’s not re-elected in 2006.” Mahoney’s early alternatives include Toomey, whose campaign manager didn’t return a call to HUMAN EVENTS, and newly elected Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., who received more than 3.3-million votes on November 2, the most ever for a candidate in Pennsylvania.

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Written By

Mr. Bluey, a contributing editor to Human Events, is director of the Center for Media & Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation. He maintains a blog at RobertBluey.com.

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