V I T A L S T A T S
Arlen SpecterBIRTH DATE: February 12, 1930
FAMILY: Married to Joan L. Levy; 2 children
EDUCATION: Univeristy of Pennsylvania, B.A. (1951); Yale Law School, LL.B. (1956)
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Senator, U.S. Senate (1981-present); District Attorney, Philadelphia (1966-74); Assistant Counsel, Warren Commission (1964); Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia (1959-63); U.S. Army (1951-53)
AFFILIATIONS: Phi Beta Kappa
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY: conservative on economics; liberal on social issues.
MAJOR FEAT: Co-authored Gramm-Rudman deficit-reduction law in 1985
PET ISSUE: Crime
BIGGEST PLUS: Well-articulated, middle-of-the-road platform
BIGGEST MINUS: His career has provoked ire from conservatives and liberal alike.
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Q U I C K T A K E
MANY AMERICANS KNOW ARLEN SPECTER, a three-term Republican senator from Pennsylvania, for his zealous questioning of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. It is a complicated political legacy, one that took a toll on Specter personally, and one he admits is a political liability. Specter, ironically, has a strong record on women's issues, and offers a mix of fiscal conservatism and social libertarianism. He is the GOP's lone pro-choice candidate and speaks out against government's imposing religious values, saying "America needs to be governed from the center." Opponents claim that by calling for the removal of the antiabortion plank from the party platform, he is exacerbating old wounds at the expense of the party. Specter claims the opposite: that keeping the provision divides the party by shutting out pro-choice members. On crime and fiscal issues, Specter's conservative critics have less room for complaint. As a former district attorney of Philadelphia, crime control has always been his passion. Specter would abolish plea bargains and mandate life sentences for career criminals. Specter's tactical strategy is to allow the other hopefuls to split the conservative bloc while he holds on to the more moderate voters, including those who say they are pro-choice.
H O W H E D I D
Specter's candidacy never made it to the primary starting gate. His campaign starved for cash, the Pennsylvania senator pulled the plug on his effort on November 22, 1995. Specter positioned himself as a moderate in the crowded conservative field -- tough on crime and spending and supportive of abortion rights. But it didn't work. In Iowa's 1995 straw poll, Specter came in dead last. He never got above 4 percent in CNN's polling of Republicans. Many women still recall Specter accusing Anita Hill of perjury during the 1991 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. "I don't think anybody anticipated how much the Anita Hill stuff would still play into it," said Ann Stone of Republicans for Choice. And conservatives didn't forget Specter's opposition to Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork in 1987 and his strong criticism of the Christian right. Near the end, it was one body blow after another -- Specter's own governor, Thomas Ridge, endorsed Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole for president. Although Specter had a strong reputation for money-raising, spending nearly $9 million in his 1992 Senate re-election race, he flopped as a presidential fund-raiser. While Dole and Gramm were leading the GOP money derby with nearly $20 million each, Specter was able to scrape together less than $3 million -- and half a million of which was borrowed from a bank.
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