Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), who broke with his party to support President Obama's stimulus package last week, said before the final vote Friday that more of his colleagues would have joined were they not afraid of the political consequences.
"When I came back to the cloak room after coming to the agreement a week ago today," said Specter, "one of my colleagues said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' My Republican colleague said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' I said, 'Are you going to vote with me?' And he said, 'No, I might have a primary.' And I said, 'Well, you know very well I'm going to have a primary.'"
Specter, along with centrist Maine Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, joined with Democrats last week to move the stimulus bill forward. Specter said he doubted there would be any more Republican votes than those three Friday night.
"I think there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation," he said.
Specter was asked, How many of your colleagues?
"I think a sizable number," he said. "I think a good part of the caucus agrees with the person I quoted, but I wouldn't want to begin to speculate on numbers."
Being the 60th and deciding vote isn't easy for a centrist who will likely face a more conservative primary challenger and then a more liberal general election opponent.
"I'd feel less uncomfortable about being the sixty-first and even better about being the sixty-seventh, but I'll take 'em one at a time," he said.
Specter added that his hope was that next time there would be more Republicans joining within him. But is that realistic?
"I didn't say it was my expectation, it was my hope," said Specter, before walking on to the Senate floor.
UPDATE: Listen to the audio.
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