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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: A look back at the life and career of Sen. Arlen Specter

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Oct 15, 2012 8:16 AM

Radio Smart Talk for Monday, October 15:


Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Arlen Specter died at the age of 82 Sunday.  The Specter family said he died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Specter was Pennsylvania's longest serving senator.  He was elected in 1980 and lost a re-election bid in 2010.  Specter was considered a moderate Republican, who wasn't afraid to vote his conscious, even if it meant not voting with other Republicans.  Specter switched his affiliation to the Democratic Party before the primary election in 2010, saying Republicans had become so conservative that he would have a difficult time winning.  After changing parties, Specter lost the Democratic primary anyway to Congressman Joe Sestak.

During his tenure in the Senate, Specter was at the center of many of the nation's most high profile history-making events. His vote against the confirmation of President Ronald Reagan's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Robert Bork, angered many Republicans.  His tough questions to Anita Hill, the college professor who accused another Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas, of sexual harassment didn't endear him to women's groups across the country.  Specter was one of three Republicans who voted for President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package in 2009.  The backlash from that vote may have prompted Specter to become a Democrat.

On Monday's Radio Smart Talk, we'll look back on Sen. Specter's life and career.

What will you remember most about Sen. Arlen Specter? 

Listen to the program:

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2012-10-15 08:12

    E-mail from Jim:

    "I respected Sen. Specter as a rare voice of moderation in Congress and for his valiant fight against cancer. But, some of the positions he took were just puzzling. For example, how could he so vehemently oppose Judge Bork on one hand and then just as vehemently support Justice Thomas? To me they seem like two peas from the same pod."

  • edwarddellinger img 2012-10-15 08:38

    Specter was definitely a Democrat in disguise, he was first and for most a socialist to his affinity and pet departments like NIH were flooded with moneys never wuite spent in real value. Specter know to most of his colleagues, was treacherous and did not make any deals lest they first benefited himself, his personal ideals, and his pet peeves . . . no average American was every going to be found eating ice cream with him. I personaly think his absence from the Senate could beconsidered Good Ridance, though he has his followers in place.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2012-10-15 08:51

    E-mail from Terry Mutchler, executive director of the PA Office of Open Records:

    "When the PA Supreme Court held its historic session in Old City Hall at Independence hall, Sen. Specter attended this first televised session of the high court which was September 2011.

    I had the privilege before presenting my argument to shake his hand and say hello. He was very interested in the newly created Office of Open Records and remarked how important open government is to Pennsylvania.

    It was a very nice memory and I certainly extend my condolences to his family and his Pennsylvania family of citizens."