Politics

Specter: Conversation Santorum cited never happened [VIDEO]

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter

Former Senator Rick Santorum said part of  his reasoning for supporting Arlen Specter’s bid for Senate in 2004 was a conversation with him about supporting the president’s nominees to the Supreme Court, but Spector says that conversation never took place.

Speaking to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Specter said the topic didn’t come up until after he had been re-elected, in a discussion over his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee.

“That is flatly not true,” Specter said. “We never had any such conversation. It would be improper to make a commitment on a vote before I knew who the nominee was and whether I thought the nominee was qualified. I’ve got a very strong reputation and a record behind that did not make deals like that.”

Romney attacked Santorum for supporting Specter over conservative darling and now Senator Pat Toomey during Wednesday night’s debate. Santorum defended himself, saying that at the time, Specter was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Santorum was concerned about making sure that conservative nominees were appointed to fill upcoming vacancies on the Supreme Court.

“He asked me to support him,” Santorum recounted. “I said will you support the president’s nominees? We had a 51/49 majority in the Senate. He said I’ll support the president’s nominees as chairman. Every nominee Arlen Specter supported from the time he — he took on Judge Forks and saved Justice Thomas. Every nominee he supported, passed. Why? Because it gave Democrats cover to vote for it and it gave Republican moderates cover to vote for it.”

Specter, who is pro-choice, remains unpopular for switching to the Democratic Party, and Santorum’s comments did not go over well, seen as evidence of the Washington back room deals the Republican base, and Republican freshman class, despise.

The Romney campaign doubled down on the attack, releasing a web video Friday that show Santorum’s remarks on the subject.

“The fact is Arlen Spector did support and vote for Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito just like Rick Santorum said,” Santorum Communications Director Hogan Gidley emailed in response. “Judicial appointments are critical and Rick Santorum worked with the Republican team to ensure two 30 year conservative appointments to the Supreme Court – while Mitt Romney used his Gubernatorial power to appoint liberal activists [sic] judges who would support his [Romney] decision to approve 189 marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples.”

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