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Back home in PA, Senator Arlen Specter is running neck and neck with Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary. According to Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent, the Kansas-born Specter, “is highlighting his vote against the assault weapons ban in the 90s and calling Sestak out for his ‘F’ rating from the NRA.” But Specter is only running the ads in rural PA; he doesn’t want to be seen as close to the NRA in downtown Philadelphia. Curious, I went to the NRA site to check Specter’s rating. I found an A for conservative Republican Pat Toomey and an AQ for his defeated primary opponent Peg Luksik. But couldn’t find a rating for Sestak, or Specter. Curious. So I Googled this old Pittsburgh Trib article reporting that the Gun Owners of America (GOA) thought Specter didn’t deserve an endorsement from the NRA, and was only a fair-weather friend to gun owners . . .

People have been known to sell out whatever principles they have left for politics. Like the Republican Party hierarchy and the NRA endorsing U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter over U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey in the April 27 primary.

The GOA prefers to stick to its guns.

“Specter has always voted for gun owners — when we do not need him,” said Larry Pratt, executive director of the 300,000-member organization. He describes it as a grassroots citizens’ lobby for the Second Amendment since its founding in Virginia in 1975.

“(Specter) is the reason why the semi-automatic gun ban got out of committee and became law. He left the room so he would not be present to vote.”

And the GOA reminds us that Specter stood with President Bill Clinton by voting for the 1994 Clinton Crime Bill. That included the ban on so-called assault weapons. I don’t know much about Sestak or Toomey, but I never trusted Specter as a Republican, and I don’t trust him any more as a Democrat.

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  1. Ollie North recounted at the NRA Banquet, how he'd been in Afghanistan when he learned that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. His doctors advised him to undergo radiation. At first, he refused, saying that "the only other guy I know who's had radiation therapy is Arlen Specter, and it turned him from a Democrat into a Republican." To set the record straight, North continued, saying, he's "gone nuclear" and was cancer-free.

    • What really turned Arlen from an old style, Nixon-era Republican into a Blue Dog Democrat was the realization that there was less and less room for moderate voices in the Republican party. What I learned about Specter was that he talked an independent game, but too often caved in to vote with the majority. I think his time has come and gone.

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