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Senator Goes Face to Face With Dissent

By Ian Urbina and Katharine Q. Seelye

  • Aug. 11, 2009

LEBANON, Pa. — They got up before dawn in large numbers with angry signs and American flag T-shirts, and many were seething with frustration at issues that went far beyond overhauling health care.

More than 1,000 people showed up here Tuesday morning in this largely Republican town in central Pennsylvania for a town-hall-style meeting with Senator Arlen Specter, though the auditorium could seat only 250. Like many of the dozens of such meetings held by members of Congress over the last few weeks, this one was punctuated with rowdy moments, and interviews with many of those who showed up made it clear just how much underlying dissent motivated them.

Many said the Obama administration’s plans for a new health care system were just another example of a federal government that had again gone too far, just as it had, they said, with the economic stimulus, the auto industry bailout and the cap-and-trade program.

“This is about the dismantling of this country,” Katy Abram, 35, said forcefully to Mr. Specter, drawing one of the most prolonged rounds of applause. “We don’t want this country to turn into Russia.”

Ms. Abram described herself as a stay-at-home mother from Lebanon, and in many ways she was representative of the almost entirely white and irritable crowd, most of whom were from the area. Based on interviews with several dozen people who attended, it appeared that about 80 percent of those who showed up opposed the planned changes to the health care system.

Many said they heard about the meeting from e-mail alerts sent by conservative and antitax groups like the Constitutional Organization of Liberty and the Berks County Tea Party , along with Mr. Specter’s own mailings. Some voiced sentiments that were heard recently on conservative radio shows, though those interviewed said they resented being characterized as mobs or puppets of lobbyists, emphasizing that they represented only themselves. “I demand my voice!” read one sign outside. “You work for me,” was a refrain yelled inside the auditorium.

At the same time, those who favor a health care overhaul, urged to attend by unions and liberal groups like the Service Employees International Union and Health Care for America Now , said they were motivated by concern that the government might not go far enough. Only the government, they say, can take on a problem as big as health care.

But in the end, their ability to ask a question at the meeting depended on how early they got in line. Many of the union members who showed up to support health care reform did not arrive early enough to get into the auditorium at the Harrisburg Area Community College, and thus were largely not represented among the 30 questioners called on by Mr. Specter. It was the angriest people who got in line first.

“All union members to the back, I got here early,” one man in the line told latecomers.

John Stahl, chairman of the Berks County Tea Party, a local branch of conservatives, was one of those who helped recruit opponents of change to the event. A former truck salesman, Mr. Stahl, 65, said he was laid off about 18 months ago. Since May, his group has organized four protests in the state opposing taxes and the stimulus plan, but none have attracted the crowds like health care, he said.

“We believe there are several issues out there that leave the existence of the Republic at risk,” he added, “not the least of which is this Obamacare.”

The meeting came just over a week after Mr. Specter and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were booed and jeered at a meeting in Philadelphia on Aug. 3.

Hoping to avoid similar unrest, Mr. Specter tried to control the event by imposing a rigid format. Only the first 30 people who wanted to speak were given cards allowing them to ask questions. He allotted 90 minutes for the meeting and was careful to let people speak their piece. He gave succinct answers before moving on to the next question. Because of concerns about a potentially unruly crowd, the Capitol Police sent three extra officers from Washington.

In addition, Mr. Specter and his staff controlled the microphones. And he stood face to face with his questioners, a move, he said later in an interview, that he had hoped might make it harder for people to scream at him.

But for all his efforts, tempers boiled over 15 minutes into the meeting. Standing two feet from the senator, Craig Anthony Miller, 59, shouted, “You are trampling on our Constitution!” A half-dozen security people quickly swarmed but refrained from touching him as Mr. Specter, raising his voice, said sternly, “Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” He said the man had the right to leave.

Mr. Miller, shaking, stood his ground. He said he was furious that the senator’s staff had limited the questioning. “One day,” he said to loud applause, “God is going to stand before you, and he’s going to judge you!”

Mr. Specter shouted into his microphone that demonstrators disrupting the proceedings would be thrown out.

The meetings come at a vulnerable moment for Mr. Specter, who faces what could be a tight Democratic primary next spring. While those on the right excoriated him at the meeting for betrayal because he switched parties in April, he has also been attacked by his opponent in the primary, Representative Joe Sestak, as being a Republican aligned with former President George W. Bush.

But most of those who spoke Tuesday seemed unlikely to vote in the Democratic primary. Many seemed concerned about issues that are either not in the health care legislation or are peripheral to the debate in Washington — abortion, euthanasia, coverage of immigrants, privacy.

“It says plainly right there they want to limit the type of care elderly can get,” said Laurel Tobias, an office manager from Lebanon, referring to a bill in the House. “They are talking about killing people.”

Standing by a bus that takes her from meeting to meeting, Amy Menefee, spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, said the real issue was the expansion of government favored by President Obama. Proponents of the overhaul voiced the opposite fear, also citing larger issues at stake.

“This isn’t just about health care,” said Carolyn Doric of Harrisburg, “it’s about political power and a means to regain political power.” Ms. Doric did not get into the meeting.

An article on Wednesday about a town hall meeting on health care in Pennsylvania presided over by Senator Arlen Specter described remarks by one attendee, Katy Abram, incorrectly. When she told Senator Specter, “This is about the dismantling of this country,” she was speaking in a forceful voice, but she was not shouting. (At another point in her comments, she did shout.)

How we handle corrections

Sean D. Hamill contributed reporting.

What's Hot

Specter town hall crowd gets rough and rowdy (video).

Senator Arlen Specter, (D-Penn.) faced an overwhelmingly hostile crowd on Tuesday, with attendees at a town hall forum challenging him with a host of deeply cynical and occasionally erroneous allegations about the president's health care agenda.

One man threatened the senator with God's wrath. "One day, God's gonna stand before you," he said. "And he's gonna judge you and the rest of your damn cronies up on the Hill, and then you can get your just deserts."

At one point, the event grew so testy that police and security guards took to the aisles to separate crowd members from each other, and a protester from the senator.

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute," Specter told police as they circled around one angry town hall participant. "He has a right to leave. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You wanna leave? Leave!"

Otherwise, Specter stayed composed through it all, often offering terse answers to the various complaints that were leveled in his direction. He pledged not to support a health care bill that increased the deficit or one that covered illegal immigrants. He shot down assertions that the House of Representative's legislation would fund euthanasia and thanked the questioners who actually said they supported comprehensive reform.

Those participants, however, were far and away the minority. The event was held in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a reliable GOP stronghold in the state. At one point, an attendee thanked Specter for having the courage to address the people who got him elected: "Republicans." It was a thinly veiled shot at the Senator's defection from the GOP earlier in the year.

The entire episode, carried live by all three major cable news stations, offered a window into the type of conservative histrionics currently being exhibited at these town hall forums. It also, at least in one instance, exposed how unconstructive some of these opponents of reform truly are. After one participant detailed his concerns with the legislation, Specter asked the gentleman what he would like to see done.

"Some of the things I would like to be done, okay, are..." the man paused, searching for an answer.

"Tort reform!" the crowd screamed.

"Tort reform, yes," the man responded. "Thank you very much, I lost the chain of thought."

And then he was off. "Some of the things in our current bill that I don't particularly like, and you have addressed already, one of them was non-U.S. citizens health care. You have indicated that you would not vote for a bill that has non U.S. health provisions within it. I do recommend though that we do what the state of New York does for the homeless. We can take the non-U.S. citizens and give them an airplane ticket and ship them back."

The man ended his speech by telling Specter that one of the positive things he could to, "which would make it extremely memorable for yourself, is you could go back and propose a bill for term limits."

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August 20, 2018

Song on Ariana Grande's new album samples clip of man shouting at 2009 Pa. town hall meeting

A rowdy town hall attendee yelling at former u.s. sen. arlen specter is now sampled 20 times on the track with nicki minaj.

Carroll - Headshot, Emily Rolen

In honor of Ariana Grande's official release of the 15-track stunner "Sweetener ,"  I thought it was the perfect time to revisit the hilarious fact that a 68-year-old Lebanon, Pa. native somehow made it onto the album on a song featuring Nicki Minaj.

It's called "The Light is Coming," and it was released as a single back in June. It opens with a sample of a man yelling, "You wouldn't let anybody speak and instead —" which repeats more than 20 times throughout the song underneath Nicki's raps and Ariana's chorus. Some called it annoying. Others adventurous. 

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Either way, music journalists miraculously managed to track down where the sample came from, and also managed to find the angry gentlemen who was yelling. His name is Craig Anthony Miller, according to MTV , and it's true, he was just an angry guy at a Pennsylvania town hall meeting confronting former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter about health care.

When a reporter called to tell him that he made it onto her song, Miller says, "Well, how about that."

"Oh my god. I'll have to tell my daughter this," his wife says.

Apparently, Miller attended the 2009 town hall meeting to question Specter on health care . It was incredibly hostile — complete with raucous "boos" — and ended with Specter shouting into his microphone that demonstrators disrupting the proceedings would be thrown out.

But Miller didn't get to ask a full question because he was interrupted by security. That's what his statement was all about. Here's a full clip for context.

Oh, and angry screams and Specter yelling, "Wait a minute!" during  the same town hall meeting were sampled   for  "Lemon" from Pharrell Williams' N.E.R.D and Rihanna   back in November 2017. 

Well, how about that.

Anyway, Grande's full album is now out on all streaming channels and available for purchase and includes a song called "Pete Davidson," so if you haven't listened, you're welcome.

Follow Emily & PhillyVoice on Twitter @emily_rolen | @thePhillyVoice Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Add Emily’s RSS feed to your feed reader Have a news tip? Let us know .

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arlen specter wait a minute

Senator Specter Health Care Town Hall Meeting

Senator Arlen Specter held a town hall meeting in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, on health care to discuss the various options being discussed by Co… read more

Senator Arlen Specter held a town hall meeting in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, on health care to discuss the various options being discussed by Congress. He addressed other topical issues as raised by members of the audience.

He was interrupted by protesters several times. close

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arlen specter wait a minute

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  • U.S. Senate | Specter, A. (R-PA) U.S. Senate | Specter, A. (R-PA)

Airing Details

  • Aug 11, 2009 | 7:01pm EDT | C-SPAN 3
  • Aug 11, 2009 | 11:00pm EDT | C-SPAN 1
  • Aug 12, 2009 | 5:40am EDT | C-SPAN 1

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Sen. Arlen Specter Gets Mobbed to Kill Health Care in Lebanon, PA (2009)

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Specter Town hall

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"You are never too far ahead to lose and never too far behind to win."

"If you can get people to laugh, you can get people to listen."

"You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."


Specter lost his first race for the U.S. Senate in 1976 in the GOP primary to John Heinz, but he ran again in 1980 and never looked back, winning that race and re-election four times until, after having switched to the Democratic Party in 2010, he lost his seat in the Democratic primary.   

During his time in the Senate, Specter was known for his independent positions, including his support – unusual support for a Republican – for Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, as well as embryonic stem cell research. He helped derail the nomination of GOP-favored Robert Bork to the high court, but then supported Clarence Thomas, while enraging many with his aggressive questioning of Anita Hill. Specter also voted to acquit President Clinton in 1999, calling his impeachment proceeding before the Senate a “sham trial” without witnesses.  

In a later and politically fatal break with Republicans, Specter cast the critical vote supporting President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Specter said he was putting country before party as he felt the economic stimulus package was needed to move the country out of the Great Recession, as many in retrospect believe was the case. That decision undermined Specter’s support within the Republican Party, causing him to seek re-election as a Democrat. 

After leaving the U.S. Senate, Specter returned to the practice of law in Philadelphia. He took on special matters of interest on appellate court arguments and provided strategic advice on federal and state legislation, though he did no lobbying. He also taught about the U.S. Supreme Court as an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.    During his lifetime, Arlen Specter was the recipient of numerous awards and accolades. He was selected by Time magazine during his last term in office as one of the nation’s Ten Best Senators. Locally, the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association in 2001 honored Specter with its prestigious Justice Michael A. Musmanno Award, given annually to a lawyer or legislator who has advocated for the rights of victims. Specter wrote three well-received books: Never Give In, about his battles with illness, including a brain tumor and cancer; his autobiography, Passion for Truth; and Life Among the Cannibals, a memoir in which he denounced the partisanship of Washington, D.C.  Arlen Specter was a near- daily squash player and his name adorns squash’s national home, the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.  

Arlen Specter was a near-daily squash player and his name adorns squash’s national home, the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia, opened in October 2021 as the largest squash facility in the nation with 20 courts located in Philadelphia's thriving University City. The center hosts many major competitions, including the U.S. Open Squash Championships, while also providing community programs in partnership with Philadelphia's Urban Squash Program SquashSmarts.( Read article , US Squash )  Specter earned his undergraduate degree from Penn and his law degree from Yale Law School. Following several years in private practice, Specter was hired as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia and later won his first of election as district attorney.  

Arlen Specter was born on Feb. 12, 1930, in Wichita, Kan., and was raised in Russell, Kan., the fourth and youngest child of Lillian and Harry Specter, émigres from Eastern Europe. His was the only Jewish family in Russell, coincidentally the hometown of another senator and GOP presidential nominee, Bob Dole. Arlen Specter married Joan Levy on June 14, 1953; their marriage produced two sons, Shanin and Steve. Arlen Specter died on October 14, 2012 at 82 due to complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.   ​

arlen specter wait a minute

  • One Last Thing…

Smerconish says representatives in Congress could learn something from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Lawyer. District attorney. Mayoral, gubernatorial and presidential candidate. Five-term U.S. senator.    Arlen Specter had a long and storied political career, most notably his tenure in the Senate from 1981-2011, the longest for any senator from Pennsylvania. He was considered among the chamber’s best and brightest – and most fiercely independent -- members.  

As chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, Specter was, as The New York Times put it, “long regarded as its sharpest legal mind.” The newspaper also called Specter “hard-edged and tenacious” yet he was consistently moderate and centrist. Specter first gained renown when, as a young lawyer he worked on President Lyndon Johnson’s Warren Commission and was credited for conceiving the “single-bullet theory,” which concluded that President Kennedy and Governor John Connolly were struck by a single bullet fired by a lone gunman. 

  Specter’s first run for public office came in 1965 when he sought to become district attorney of Philadelphia. Spurned by the Democratic Party in a heavily Democratic city, Specter bucked the odds and ran as Republican – and won. He ran for re-election in 1969 and won again. Other runs for mayor (1967), Pennsylvania governor (1978) and president (1995) did not go as well.   ​

  • Rememberances
  • Fellowships

arlen specter wait a minute

arlen specter wait a minute

​​ Arlen Specter

arlen specter wait a minute

Copyright ©   Kline & Specter PC.  All Rights Reserved.

  • In February 2009, Sen. Arlen Specter was one of only three Republicans to vote for passage of President Obama's $838 billion economic stimulus plan. Specter said at the time that the controversial vote would hurt him politically. Indeed, that vote made him unpopular among Pennsylvania Republicans and led to his switch to the Democratic Party and eventual loss of his Senate seat. But Specter said at the time of the vote – and years later – that his vote for the stimulus package was more important, that the measure was critical to the nation’s economic well-being. Today, the stimulus package is considered by many as an action that helped avoid a Depression and one that spurred economic recovery.  ​
  • The Foundation for Jewish Day Schools of Greater Philadelphia selected six students from local Jewish high schools as Arlen Specter Scholars for the 2013-14 school year. These students qualified for the scholarship by “demonstrating a passion for community service and an intense interest in future government service.” Funding for the needs-based scholarships given as part of the Arlen Specter Scholar Award program is provided by Kline & Specter, PC, in memory of the late Sen. Specter, who devoted his career to serving the City of Philadelphia and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. ​

Read articles written by Arlen Specter

  • ​Radio ad for Arlen Specter’s 1969 election for Philadelphia district attorney ​
  • Radio ad for Arlen Specter in the 1976 U.S. Senate election
  • WATCH: TV Pilot Philadelphia aired April 1, 2012 on WHYY -- Arlen Specter's "The Whole Truth"

​ ​​​​​​​​​ IN THE NEWS: 

  • Author Evan Laine on his book Arlen Specter, Scandal, Conspiracies, and Crisis in Focus, October 2022 ( Watch Video )
  • Specter US Squash Center named among best sports/entertainment facilities, ENR MidAtlantic, 10/17/2022
  • Al Franken has been in the public eye for decades, first as a comedian and then as a senator from Minnesota. Since he resigned from the Senate in 2018 amid sexual harassment allegations—that he has denied—he has mostly stayed out of the spotlight. He talks to David about his transition from comedy to politics, his departure from the Senate and his subsequent battle with depression, whether he might run for office again, and his touring comedy show, “The Only Former U.S. Senator Currently on Tour Tour.” 5/5/22 ( Listen to the podcast ) ​
  • Opening Ceremony for the Arlen Specter US Squash Center, 10/2/2021 ​
  • Philly squash elite convert historic armory to public courts , The Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/10/21
  • "Policy Over Party: The Legacy of Senator Arlen Specter" Produced by Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University, March 2001
  • Leadership Profile: Tracey & Shanin Specter, Squash Magazine January 2019 ​
  • Opened in October 2021, the  Arlen Specter US Squash Center  is the largest squash facility in the nation. With 18 singles courts and two doubles courts located in the heart of Philadelphia's thriving University City, the 65,000 square foot Specter Center serves as the host site for dozens of major national and international competitions, a training center for Team USA's elite squash players, and broad-based community programs in partnership with Philadelphia's Urban Squash Program SquashSmarts.( Watch Video ) The squash center was also profiled in Squash Magazine January 2019 edition. ( read article )
  • Whoever thought the words of Arlen Specter would be immortalized … in a hip-hop/rap song. But  here it is. The song is “Lemon” by N.E.R.D. and Rihanna in which Specter is heard repeatedly saying: “Wait, wait a minute.”  The  words come from a town hall meeting in which one questioner tried --  unsuccessfully -- to shout down the senator. ​“Lemon” at one time in late 2017 was the No. 1 trending song in the United States. Here is the “clean” version of Lemon . 
  • Specter’s voice is also used in the Pharrell Williams video “Entrepreneur” that premiered Aug. 20,2020. In it, Specter is repeatedly heard saying: “If you want to be led out of here, you’re welcome to go.” Specter said the words to a heckler at a town hall meeting he had held.  Watch the video ​
  • Arlen Specter Center for Public Policy opens 9/11/14: watch videos:  NBC 10 ;  PHL 17
  • Arlen Specter Center selected for preservation award:

The Arlen Specter Center for Public Service at Philadelphia University was chosen as a recipient of the 2015 Preservation Achievement Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. The award is given to organizations, businesses and projects that exemplify outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation throughout the region. A presentation was set for June 3, 2015 at the Union League in the largest gathering of preservationists in the Philadelphia area. The center won the award for the $4 million renovation of the Roxboro House, an historic structure which had fallen into disrepair since its construction circa 1800. The building was stabilized while keeping its distinctive semi-octagonal wings. The university purchased the wood-frame federal-style house around 2006 and the renovated structure was dedicated as the Arlen Specter Center for Public Service in September 2014. The Roxboro House, located in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, was occupied over the years by some notable Philadelphians, including Caspar Wistar, who published the first American textbook of anatomy in 1811.

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Arlen Specter booed at town hall meeting


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'Overwhelming Evidence Oswald Was the Assassin'

A 1966 U.S. News & World Report interview with Arlen Specter, assistant counsel for the Warren Commission.

'Overwhelming Evidence Oswald Was Assassin'

President John F. Kennedy waves to onlookers approximately one minute before he was shot in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Fifty years later, conspiracy theories still abound.

Is there more to the assassination story than appears in the mass of testimony and findings made public by the Warren Commission? In this exclusive interview with Arlen Specter, the lawyer who investigated the physical facts, you get in precise detail what the evidence proves about that fateful day in Dallas three years ago.

[READ MORE: JFK: 50 Years Later ]

Q: Mr. Specter, were you the Warren Commission's chief investigator on the facts about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy -- how many shots, where the shots came from, other facts?

A: I would not describe my role at all beyond what appears in the work of the Warren Commission. It is possible from the notes of testimony to observe that I was responsible for taking the testimony of Governor Connally, Mrs. Connally, the autopsy surgeons, the doctors from Dallas, the wound-ballistics experts — so that is apparent from the area what my role was. But I think, as an assistant counsel for the Commission, it would be presumptuous of me to characterize my role as that of "chief investigator" on a key part of the assassination investigation.

Q: You indicated you were responsible for the evidence concerning the autopsy. Is it your understanding that the Federal Bureau of Investigation did get a copy of the final, official autopsy report?

A: I would have no way of being able to state categorically what distribution there was on the autopsy report. I do know that the autopsy report from Dr. Humes and Dr. Boswell and Dr. Finck was in the hands of the Commission early in January when I joined the Commission, so that the Commission had it at that point. I would presume the FBI had it. [Comdr. James J. Humes, Comdr. J. Thornton Boswell, and Lieut. Col. Pierre A. Finck were the pathologists from the armed forces who performed the detailed autopsy of President Kennedy. Dr. Humes was chief autopsy surgeon.]

Q: You have no certain knowledge that the FBI had it?

A: Oh, absolutely not — I had no way of knowing precisely when the FBI got which documents which were not under their general investigative ken.

Q: How do you explain the difference between the autopsy report and the FBI's report of December 9 on President Kennedy's wounds — the FBI having reported that one bullet went in only to a finger's length, whereas the autopsy report said it went through the President's neck?

A: The FBI's report in early December reflected the doctors' comments overheard by FBI agents who were present at the autopsy. Those comments were based on factors which were originally thought to be true on the night of the autopsy, when there was relatively limited information available to the doctors actually performing the autopsy.

At that time, the autopsy surgeons did not know that there had been a bullet hole on the front of the President's neck. The bullet hole on the front of the President's neck had been obliterated by the tracheotomy performed by the Parkland [Hospital] doctors in Dallas. [Parkland doctors cut a hole in the President's windpipe in an effort to help him breathe.]

The autopsy surgeons, on the night of November 22, had very limited information. For example, when they started their autopsy, they knew that there was a hole at the base of the back of the neck and a finger could probe between two large strap muscles and penetrate to a very slight extent.

The autopsy surgeons in Washington also knew that there had been external heart massage applied at Dallas. They also had the fragment of information that a whole bullet had been found on a Dallas stretcher. So it was a preliminary observation, or a very tentative theory, which was advanced in the early stage of the autopsy, that the bullet might have penetrated a short distance into the back of the President's neck and been forced out by external heart massage, and that the bullet might have been the whole bullet which was found on the stretcher in Dallas.

When we first reviewed the FBI reports, we were very much concerned with that tentative autopsy conclusion which had been formulated. But, when we later took testimony from the autopsy surgeons and had the whole picture, knowing more — for example, the evidence of the path of the bullet through the President's neck, showing that it entered between two large strap muscles and then went over the top of the pleural cavity and sliced the trachea and exited in a hole in the front of the neck, or at least showing that there was a bullet path through the President's neck, without getting at this juncture into the question of whether the bullet entered or exited in the front of the neck — when this whole picture was presented later, it was apparent that the preliminary conversations reported in the FBI document were only tentative.

In fact, Dr. Humes had formulated a different conclusion, tentative as it might have been, the very next day when he had a chance to talk to Dr. Perry by telephone in Dallas [Dr. Malcolm O. Perry of Parkland Hospital, one of the doctors attending to President Kennedy]. That was when he found that there had been a bullet hole in the front of the neck, before the tracheotomy was performed.

As the autopsy had gone along, Dr. Humes had found the bullet path through the body, and that led to the phone call to Dr. Perry for more information.

Q: If the FBI had received a copy of the final autopsy report, completed on November 24, why did it write into its December 9 report the tentative conclusion that a bullet entered the upper back for a short distance — and then repeat that same theory in a later report dated January 13?

A: That is a question which would be best directed to the FBI. The only responses that I could give you would be my inferences. The Federal Bureau of Investigation may not have had the autopsy report when its report, dated December 9, was originally prepared. [An unimpeachable source told U.S. News & World Report the autopsy report was delivered to the FBI on December 23.] As to the January report containing the same information, some data from the earlier report may have been repeated without carefully focusing on it — as such later reports frequently are repetitious without any special reason, except perhaps to give the reader the information if he missed it earlier.

I do know that the FBI itself came to the same conclusions that the Commission did. My. Hoover testified to this, and nobody in the Bureau placed any substantial credence in the preliminary thoughts as reflected in the early reports.


Q: Mr. Specter, can we get a little more on the picture of the autopsy itself? How long did the autopsy surgeons have with the President's body? Did they have sufficient time to make a thorough autopsy or were they being pressed to deliver his body to the undertaker?

A: In response to a specific question like that, I would refer to the autopsy report. My general recollection is that they were not pressed at all, that they started on it in the early evening on November 22 and they worked on the body through the night, and the body was not prepared for burial until the morning of November 23, and that it was taken to the White House to lie in state somewhere in the 4-to-5 a.m. area on November 23.

Q: So they had only a few hours in the night of the 22nd?

A: That is correct, but, to the best of my information, that is an adequate opportunity to perform a comprehensive autopsy report subject to supplemental studies, as, for example, were done on the brain. There was a supplemental autopsy report from trained, skilled experts.

Q: Were there preliminary autopsy reports or memoranda of any kind that were destroyed?

A: Yes, the record is plain that there had been a series of notes taken by Dr. Humes at the time of the actual performance of the autopsy [on the night of Friday, November 22] which had been destroyed when he made a written — handwritten — autopsy report on Sunday, November 24.

Bear in mind, on that point, that, when Dr. Humes was called upon to conduct an autopsy of the President and then retired to his home on Sunday to make a formal report which he knew was important, he did not quite have the perspective of a historian who is culling the premises with a fine-tooth comb.

He had never performed an autopsy on a President, and he was using his best judgment under the circumstances, never dreaming that loose, handwritten notes would become a subject of some concern.

That matter was of concern immediately to his superiors, and he was questioned on it. He made a formal report on it, and he explained his reasons fully before the Commission.

Q: Is his testimony in the open record — for the public to read?

A: It is — absolutely.

Q: Mr. Specter — going now to the crucial point of whether the wound in the neck was caused by a bullet coming from the front or rear — can you saw how it was determined that the exit point for the bullet was in the front, rather than in the rear?

A: Yes, I can tell you how the evidence was analyzed to determine which conclusion was accurate.

The President was found with a series of bullet wounds when examined both at Parkland Hospital and by the autopsy surgeons. At each place, they had only limited access.

First, at Parkland, the President's body was not turned over, for a number of reasons — most specifically because they dealt with the very grave problems of trying to restore his breathing, which was impaired by a hole in his throat, and secondarily, to try to get circulation through his body, which was impaired by a massive head wound.

So he was gone before they could cope with the problems on his front side.

The autopsy surgeons were limited, to some extent, because they did not see the original hole in front of the neck, to make observations on what it might have been.

The hole on the front of the neck was visible only for a relatively short period of time by the doctors at Dallas — from the time they removed his shirt and cut away his tie until the time Dr. Perry performed the tracheotomy.

The hole on the back of the President's neck was visible for a protracted period of time by the autopsy surgeons who worked on him at the Bethesda Naval Hospital.

The autopsy surgeons described, in detail, the characteristics of the wound on the back of the President's neck, and there was no doubt but what those characteristics showed it to be a wound of entry — a round, regular hole, which showed it to be the point of entry.


Q: Were pictures taken of those wounds?

A: Yes, they were. But, before we get into that, I want to develop this business of exit and entry wounds. The question is a very complex one, so let me continue to tell you what the characteristics were which indicated what was on the back and what was on the front of the President.

Besides the characteristics of the wound on the back of the President's neck, as testified to under oath by the autopsy surgeons, indicating it to be a point of entry, the fibers of the shirt on the back of the President and the fibers of the suit jacket on the back of the President were both pushed inward, and both indicated that the hole in the back of the President's neck was an entry hole.

The fiber on the front of the shirt was inconclusive — it was a slit. You could not determine in which direction the fiber was pushed, nor could the nick on the tie be used to determine what was the direction of the shot.

The hole on the front of the President's neck was such that, by its physical characteristics alone, it could have been either a wound of entry or a wound of exit.

The reason that such a hole would be inconclusive turns on the consideration that the bullet which passed through the President's neck met virtually no resistance in the President's body—it struck no bone, it struck no substantial muscle. It passed, in fact, between two large strap muscles. It did cut the trachea, and it passed over the pleural cavity. It exited through the soft tissue — or it passed trough, without showing whether it entered or exited — the soft tissue on the front of the throat.

Tests were performed by would-ballistics experts and Edgewood, Md., where the composition of the President's neck was duplicated, though a gelatinous solution in one sample, through a goat-meat mixture in another, and through a third of, I believe, horse-meat composition. And goatskin was placed on each side of the substance made to duplicate the President's neck.

The Manlicher-Carcano rifle, which was found on the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building, was used in the experiments, as was the same type of bullet found on the stretcher in Parkland Hospital. The distance of approximately 180 feet was used, so as to set the stage as closely approximating the actual conditions as possible.

The characteristics of the entry and exit marks on the goatskin show that it is not possible to tell conclusively whether the point of exit on the goatskin, from a bullet that had traveled through the simulated neck, would be a wound of entry or a wound of exit, because of the factors involved in a high-powered missile which is stable when it passes through a relatively porous material.

Now, when Dr. Perry answered questions at a news conference called in Dallas on the afternoon of November 22, as reported in the Commission work and as referred to in a New York Herald Tribune report of the same day, he was asked a series of hypothetical questions based on what was known at that time — for example, the fact that there was a wound on the front of the throat and a big wound in the top of the head.

And Dr. Perry said that those wounds could have been accounted for by having a bullet come in through the neck, strike the vertebrae in back, and glance up through the top of the head — which would be an extraordinary combination, but one which was conceivable in the light of the limited information available to the Dallas doctors at that time.

But, when all the factors I have described were studied in the context of the "overlay" — that is, all the things we had good reason to believe occurred — when they were all put together, the Commission concluded that the wound in the front of the neck, whose characteristics were not determinative, was actually a wound of exit.

Q: When Dr. Humes called from the Bethesda Naval Hospital to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, in connection with the autopsy, were the doctors in Dallas able to shed any light on the wound, in the front of the throat, that had been obscured by the tracheotomy?

A: As I recollect it, the best information that could be provided by the Dallas doctors involved the location of the wound and its general characteristics, without any definite statement as to entry or exit.

You must bear in mind that as each individual, in many contexts in this investigation, saw the evidence, he saw only a limited amount of the evidence.

And the overlay, as the Commission saw it, with literally thousands of pieces of information, is something quite different from the way any individual saw one incident or parts of the evidence.


Q: Could we get to this matter of the pictures of the President's body? Have you seen the pictures?

A: The complete set of pictures taken at the autopsy was not made available to me or to the Commission. I was shown one picture of the back of a body which was represented to be the back of the President, although it was not technically authenticated. It showed a hole in the position identified in the autopsy report. To the best of my knowledge, the Commission did not see any photographs or X-rays.

Q: Why were all the pictures not shown?

A: Because the Commission decided that it would not press for those photographs, as a matter of deference to the memory of the late President and because the Commission concluded that the photographs and X-rays were not indispensable.

The photographs and X-rays would, in the thinking of the Commission, not have been crucial, because they would have served only to corroborate what the autopsy surgeons had testified to under oath, as opposed to adding any new facts for the Commission.

Q: Right now, in view of the fact that within the last couple of years many doubts have arisen, do you or do you not think that these photographs might allay some of those doubts?

A: It is my view now, and it has always been my view as a general proposition, that the greater the quantity of relevant evidence on any subject, the better off the fact finder is in knowing all of the material factors.

So, from that generalization, it would follow that, even as corroborative information, photographs and X-rays would always be helpful.

But that is a different question from passing on the propriety of the Commission's exercise of its discretion in deciding, as a matter of taste, not to insist upon the photographs and X-rays at that time.

Q: Who ordered these photographs to be sequestered?

A: That is a question that I could not answer, because the limitation of my role as a Commission assistant counsel imposed upon me the obligation to search for evidence, including requests, and to sift for evidence that was obtained. An answer to the question you just posed is not one within my personal knowledge.


Q: Mr. Specter, would not those photographs, if they were available, clear up, beyond all doubt, the question of whether the hole in the back of the neck was higher or lower than the hole in the front of the throat?

A: They would corroborate that which is already known, which, in my opinion, has cleared up that question once and for all.

To follow the theory propounded by E. J. Epstein, for example [that the hole in the back was lower than the hole in the front, thus indicating the President could have been shot from the front] — is to say that the autopsy surgeons were perjurers, because the autopsy surgeons placed their hands on the Bible and swore to the truth of an official report where they had measured to a minute extent the precise location of the hole in the back of the President's neck, as measured from other specific points of the body of the President. So I believe that those factors are well established on the basis of the existing record.

The photographs would, however, corroborate that which the autopsy surgeons testified to.

Let me add one thought at this point, and that is that at the time the autopsy surgeons testified, in March of 1964, they had no way of knowing whether the photographs and X-rays would later be available to the Commission, to corroborate or to impeach their testimony.

As a matter of fact, Chief Justice Warren directed a question to Dr. Humes as to whether he would change any of his testimony if the photographs and X-rays were available — and the record of hearings would speak on that — and Dr. Humes said that he would not.

Q: Where are these photographs now?

A: I do not know. I have only heard speculation on that subject. Since I never had possession of them and have not talked to anyone who has, I would not at all be able to answer that question.

Q: Just to make sure that we understand: You feel the autopsy report itself, coupled with the sworn testimony of the surgeon, was adequate to establish the location of wounds and the probable exit and entry points of bullets, and that the photos and X-rays would merely have been corroborative evidence?

A: The statement which you have made I think is accurate, with the possible limitation of what may have been conceived to be "adequate." Any lawyer or any investigator likes to have every conceivable piece of information available to him.

I do not think, as an assistant council on the Commission, that it is within any appropriate range of my authority to disagree with the exercise of discretion of the Commission in deciding not to press for some evidence which they felt was only corroborative and which they felt should be excluded for other reasons of taste.

Q: Mr. Specter, is there any doubt in your mind now that the assassin of President Kennedy was Lee Harvey Oswald?

A: The evidence is overwhelming that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin of President Kennedy.

There can be no real doubt on that subject, based on the factors of ownership of the weapon which was found on the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building, the handwriting links to Oswald's having ordered that weapon, the fact that it is scientifically, ballistically proved beyond question that the whole bullet found on the stretcher in Parkland Hospital came from that weapon, that the two major fragments found in the front seat of the presidential limousine came from that weapon.

Further indications of Oswald's guilt are his rapid exit, fleeing from the site of the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building and the later killing of Officer [J.D.] Tippit, which was witnessed by several people, plus photographs showing Oswald holding a rifle identified as being the Manlicher-Carcano which was used.

In conjunction with a whole host of other evidence, those were just highlights which, I think, answer conclusively and far beyond that which we normally proven criminal cases that Oswald was the assassin.

Q: Do you recall any evidence that indicated or suggested that more than one assassin might have been involved? Are you just as certain that only one assassin was involved as you are that Oswald killed President Kennedy?

A: The converse question is much more difficult because it involves the proof of a negative, and it is much more difficult to prove conclusively that something did not happen than it is to prove that something did happen.

To take the simplest illustration: If you wish to prove that John Jones was at Broad and Chestnut on January 1, you need only a witness or two who saw John Jones at Broad and Chestnut on January 1. If, on the other hand, you want to prove that John Jones was not at Broad and Chestnut on January 1, you must have, over a 24-hour period, sufficient witnesses who are looking for John Jones at that spot to prove that he was not there. So it is substantially more difficult to prove a negative.

The very most that can be said, and the most that was said by the Commission, was that no evidence came to its attention which in anyway supported a conclusion that there was a conspirator with Oswald.

Q: Could you tell us your own personal feeling about this, having delved into it so deeply? What is your own hunch about it? Would you go beyond what the Commission said?

A: I would certainly stand foursquare behind the Commission's conclusion that there was absolutely no evidence called to the Commission's attention which would indicate a coconspirator on the case.

The Commission did an exhaustive job, in conjunction with using research facilities from the many federal agencies, to see if there was any connection, for example, between [Jack] Ruby and Oswald, since that with the thought that came first to mind in terms of the possibility of a coconspiracy.

The Commission left no stone unturned to track down Oswald's background to the maximum extent possible, to see if you dealings with anyone else who might have been a coconspirator.

And also the same thoroughness was used with Ruby's background, to make the same determination.

And I am confident that the Commission did the very best job that could have been done under the circumstances.

Q: Did you have enough time, when you went to Dallas, to investigate thoroughly the evidence on such points as whether a shot could have come from the grassy knoll?

A: It is my view that the Commission used ample time in finishing its investigation and coming to its conclusion. The Commission was flexible in its timetable.

It started out with the thought that the investigation could be in the three-to-six month range. When the investigation required more time, more time was taken.

It was hoped the preliminary reports and drafts would be submitted in early June. They were submitted in only a couple of cases in early June. And the completion date for the report move back into early July, and then to mid-July and early August, and then mid-September, and then late September.

You must bear in mind, as we review the matter more than two years after the Commission's report has been published, that there was great concern all around the United States -- and around the world, for that matter -- on what were the facts in connection with the President's assassination.

Some doubting Thomases, who have evidenced themselves in prolific fashion in recent months, were also writing and talking before the Commission's report came out. Some of those men who are now authors were spokesman at that time.

And the Commission felt under a duty to publish its report with reasonable promptness.

The area of responsibility which I worked on, as shown by the notes of testimony, was such that I was able to complete the drafts of reports and submit them by early June. The testimony of the autopsy surgeons and the Dallas doctors and the key participants around the scene of the incident had all been taken, and the on-site tests had been completed — and I was available in the months of June, July and August, as the reports show, to help in other areas.

I was asked to go to Dallas for the Ruby polygraph in mid-July and go to the West Coast to track down some matters relating to Ruby on some individuals we hadn't been able to locate earlier. So that, if I had wanted to perform any further investigation, there was ample time for me to do so.

Q: Could we take up specific points that are raised by critics of the investigation? One is the statement that 58 of 90 witnesses at the scene of the assassination believe, or testified, that shots came from the grassy knoll in front of the President's car. Why did you reject their testimony?

A: Because auditory response on the origin of shots is totally unreliable in so many situations, especially where you have the acoustical situation present at Dealey PIaza in Dallas, where tall buildings were present on three sides.

The witnesses in the vortex of the assassination event thought the contrary to what those farther away thought. They testified in terms of shots coming overhead and to the right and rear, as the witnesses in the presidential caravan itself said.

There were officers on the overpass who had a good view of the grassy knoll, and they saw no shooting from the knoll. Digesting the evidence as a whole, there simply was no credible evidence that any shot came from the grassy knoll.

Q: Was there any evidence at all that conflicted with the theory that the President was shot from above and behind?

A: There was no credible evidence, by which the Commission meant believable evidence. There were people who ran off in the direction of the grassy knoll, but there was no one who saw anyone on the grassy knoll with a weapon, as, for example, eyewitnesses did see a rifle protruding from the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building.

There were no ballistic marks of any shot having come from the area of the grassy knoll, as there were indications that shots came above and to the rear — for example, the wound on Governor Connally's back and the wound on the back of the President's head, and the mark on the windshield of the presidential limousine, which indicated that at least a fragment of a bullet had struck the windshield from the rear.

Q: Was that mark on the inside of the windshield?

Bear this in mind: While some may speculate on the characteristics of the President's wounds because of the absence of the pictures, none can speculate with any just cause on the wounds of Governor Connally. He took his shirt off in front of the Commission, and we took a look at his back in the presence of the thoracic surgeon who operated on him. And it was perfectly plain as to the fact that the bullet had struck the Governor in the back and had exited below the right nipple at a lower angle on the front of his body.

Q: Yet the Governor is in opposition to the theory that that's the same bullet that went through the President —

A: Not precisely. The Governor is of the opinion that he was shuck by the second shot — by a shot subsequent to the first shot which he heard — which conclusion was based on the factors of the speed of sound from a shot, as opposed to the speed of a bullet.

But the Governor's testimony was weighed with great care, as was the testimony of every single witness, and the Commission concluded that the overlay of the evidence was such that the Governor's opinions were not followed. But every one of his opinions was fully published and set forth for every reading American to see.

Q: And you talked to the Governor, as counsel for the Commission — is that correct?

A: Better than talk; I questioned him in front of a court reporter, where every syllable that he uttered was taken down and preserved for everyone to read — after a very brief preliminary discussion as to Commission procedure and a brief session where the Governor witnessed the Zapruder films [a tourist's movie of the assassination]. But the details of his testimony were stenographically transcribed.

Q: How did you determine how many shots there were?

A: The best that can be said on the number of shots is what the evidence indicates. And here we're not dealing in terms of mathematics; we're doing in terms of probabilities, to put it realistically.

As to the number of shots, the witnesses testified from two to six, so you could take a wide range of choice.

They were three spent cartridges found on the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building. There were three young men on the fifth floor at the time the President was assassinated, and those young men testified that they heard a sound which was later concluded to have been the dropping of a bullet casing to the floor.

There's a record of a test, which was repeated for all seven Commissioners on three different occasions at the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building, where Chief Justice Warren and every other one of the Commissioners stood on the fifth floor where the three young men stood — and the location of those men was pinpointed by a photograph taken at the time of the assassination by photographer in a car in the presidential motorcade. In that context, all the Commissioners heard a sound which they later concluded, and which the Commission as a whole later concluded, was the sound of a shell which had fallen to the floor.

Based on the presence of three spent shells on the sixth floor the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building, the Commission concluded that most probably three shots were fired.

The metal recovered from the stretcher and the presidential car indicated one whole bullet and fragments of another bullet, which indicated that there would have to have been at least two bullets fired.

The conclusion that three shots were fired then led to the inference that one shot might have missed or that one shot might have disappeared totally. If there had been other shots, which is highly doubtful, in the wake of all we know -- there is no remnant or trace of evidence to indicate that there were such other shots.

Q: No spectator was struck that day in Dallas?

A: There were reports that objects did strike in other parts of Dealey Plaza, which would be consistent with a third shot missing or even with a fragment from the shot that hit the President's head striking in that area.

Q: What about the mark on the curbstone, Mr. Specter? Was there not a mark on a Dallas curb that indicated either a bullet or a fragment of a bullet struck the curbstone?

A: There was such an indication, and the best thinking was that it might well have been caused by a bullet.

But, there again, it could not be ascertained with precision that it was caused by an event at the specific time of the assassination.

As in so many things, the most it could be said about the tangible physical evidence was that it was consistent with consequences which the Commission found to have occurred.

Q: What about the charge that the pieces found from one bullet add up to more than the bullet would have weighed originally?

A: It is not correct that there were pieces which would be in excess of what the bullet weighed. If you are referring to fragments which were found of what probably was the bullet which hit the President's head — there were two substantial fragments found in the front seat of the car, one weighing 40-some grains and one weighing 20-some grains. A whole bullet weighed between 160 and 161 grains.

Q: But what about the other bullet, the one that was found in the stretcher at Parkland Hospital, which presumably passed through the President's body and the Governor's body? That bullet, plus the pieces found in Governor Connally, is said by critics of the Commission to add up to more than 160 or 161 grains —

A: The mathematics does not support that criticism even though the whole bullet which was found on the stretcher had lost relatively little substance.

The substance which was deposited principally in the Governor's wrist was so light that it could not even be weighed. It was described by Dr. Gregory, the orthopedic surgeon, as being in the postage-stamp-weight category. So that by taking the best estimates of the weight of the metallic fragments deposited in the parts of the bodies, there was still a sufficient weight differential so that those small deposits would be consistent with having come from the bullet on the stretcher.

Q: Where did the bullet that was found on the stretcher come from?

A: It was a bullet found on a stretcher in Parkland Hospital on the day of the assassination, as the Warren Report points out and as testimony shows. The bullet was identified as most probably coming from Governor Connally's stretcher.

Here again, the hospital attendants were not cognizant of the fact that a bullet was about to drop off a stretcher, and they didn't maintain a chain of evidence such as would be highly desirable if we were to introduce matters in a Philadelphia criminal case.

But the bedclothes from President Kennedy's stretcher were wrapped up, and other definite evidence indicated that this bullet was not from President Kennedy's stretcher and that it was from a stretcher that was in an area where a stretcher was located which had been used for Governor Connally.

Q: Is this the bullet, identified as exhibit 399, that is thought to have passed through President Kennedy's body and then to Governor Connally's body and subsequently dropped out of the Governor's body on the stretcher?

A: The most probable conclusion is that it did just that. But I think it is important to note that the conclusion that one bullet went through the President's neck and inflicted all the wounds on the Governor was not a prerequisite to the Commission's conclusion that Oswald was the sole assassin.

The point is often made that such a conclusion is indispensable to a single-assassin finding, but that is not so.

As a matter of fact, the original thought, before the Commission conducted its extensive investigation, was — or the preliminary thinking was — that a single bullet passed through the President's neck, a second bullet struck the Governor, and a third bullet hit the President's head.

During the course of investigation, the Commission concluded the probabilities were that the same bullet that passed through the President's back also struck the Governor, but the finding is not a sine qua non for the conclusion that Oswald was the sole assassin.

Q: Does it disturb the conclusion at all that Oswald — and Oswald alone — was the assassin?

A: It does not, because it was sufficient time for three shots to have been fired even if one bullet did not strike both the President and the Governor.

Q: You say there was time for three shots within the time sequence established by the Zapruder films of the shooting and the time required for working the bolt action of the rifle?

A: That is correct. The time span ran between 4.8 and 5.6 seconds, from the instant of the neck wound, assuming the President responded immediately, to the impact of the head wound.

And it cannot be ascertained with any more precision, because approximately .8 of a second was consumed while the President's car went behind the road sign and out of view of the Zapruder film.

The rifle could be fired as rapidly as 2.3 seconds between shots. But bear this in mind: When you fire three times, the first shot is not taken into account in the timing sequence. This point is missed repeatedly by the would-be critics of the Commission report.

For example, aim is taken: Bang! — at least 2.3 seconds must pass while the bolt action is worked and aim is taken again: bang! — 2.3 seconds again for bolt action and aim; bang! So that three shots can be fired within a 4.6-second range of time.

Q: But didn't the film show that the President was hit and then 1.8 seconds later Governor Connally showed signs of having been hit?

A: The film, in my opinion, does not lend to such precision as to pin down exactly in which frame of the film it was that Governor Connally was struck.

The film is two-dimensional, and it was viewed by many of us on hundreds of occasions, but you simply cannot be so precise as to tell exactly where it was that Governor Connally was struck. And if you think you can establish the frame — as the Governor himself indicated in his opinion — you still do not know precisely where President Kennedy was when President Kennedy was struck on the first occasion.

So that the events of the assassination just cannot be reduced to mathematical certainty by use of a stop watch and the Zapruder film, notwithstanding all of our efforts to recreate it with minute precision through the on-site tests which we made late in May.

Q: What do you say to the critics who build an entire case of doubt in this area on these figures of time, indicating that the theory of a single shot hitting President Kennedy and Governor Connally is vital to the whole finding of the Commission?

A: I think that some critics have chosen to seize on the single-shot theory as a way of charging that there was a rationale of the assassination constructed for ulterior purposes. Actually, the single-shot theory is not an indispensable factor for the Commission's conclusion.

In fact, it was a theory reached after exhaustive study and analysis, largely because of the factor that when the car was lined up, as we lined it up in Dallas, and you looked through the Oswald rifle, as the assassin must have stood, based on all the other independent evidence, the bullet which went through the President's neck would most certainly — or perhaps I should say only most probably — have had to strike either some occupant in the car or something else in the car.

And the car was subjected to a minute examination hours after the assassination and nothing was struck in the car which would account for a major impact caused by a high-velocity bullet having lost so little impact by going through the President's neck.

Q: In this same general area of questions, what about the clean bullet? How could this bullet — exhibit 399 — pass through two bodies, hitting at least some bones in Governor Connally, without being distorted or dirtied?

A: The Commission had an extensive series of tests conducted by the wound-ballistics experts, at Edgewood, Md., of the United States Army. In these tests, an anesthetized goat was shot to simulate — to the greatest extent possible — the impact of a bullet on a rib with a glancing blow such as was given to Governor Connally, as shown by the X-ray.

Quite a number of tests were made until one was achieved with just the sort of a glancing blow on a rib that was given to the Governor. Naturally we couldn't reproduce a human body of the same girth, but the difference in dimension was taken into account.

Then cadaver wrists were used to test the wound of the Governor's wrist. And, as a matter of fact, reconstructed skulls were used to test the head shot on the President.

All of this, when put together, showed that it was entirely possible for a bullet to have gone through the President's neck, lost little velocity, then to have gone through the Governor's chest, grazing a rib, but again not striking anything in a smashing fashion.

It would have come out wobbling, as indicated by the large wound on the front of the Governor, and then it would have tumbled through the Governor's wrist.

And there was much independent evidence as to why the wrist wound was caused by a tumbling bullet — for example, the damage done to a nerve and the taking of the clothing into the wound, and a whole host of factors were analyzed by the orthopedic surgeon to indicate that it was not a pristine bullet — which means a bullet which had struck nothing else — that went through the wrist.

And the tumbling bullet would have explained the wound on the volar aspect of the Governor's wrist, and the bullet, which would have lost so much velocity, would account for the slight wound on the Governor's thigh.

The Governor himself thought it likely that the same bullet inflicted all of his wounds, and all of the doctors who attended the Governor thought so.

All of the experts from Edgewood, Md. — the Army wound ballistics people — came to the same conclusion.

Also, there was no other bullet that was found anywhere in the car, which would have accounted for the bullet which inflicted the Governor's wounds. And we do know that his leg, to say nothing of his wrist, was substantially lower than the level of the top of the doors; that, if a bullet had hit his leg, it would have been a curious twist of physics for it to have ended up outside of the car completely.

Q: How do you explain the apparent conflict between Oswald's record as a poor marksman and the extraordinarily excellent marksmanship that he displayed on the day of Mr. Kennedy's assassination?

A: It is not true that Oswald was a poor marksman.

The Commission examined the details of his record as a marksman with the Marine Corps, going over the original documents of his training, which I believe were published as part of the Commission's report.

The experts at Marine training appeared before the Commission — it was a deposition, but it was available to the Commission — who characterized his ability as a marksman, and they said that he was a reasonably good shot and, compared to civilian standards, would be classified as a very good shot, perhaps even better.

What must be borne in mind on that subject is the nature of the shot which was presented by the situation. Bear in mind that as the assassin stood in the sixth-floor window, with the rifle pointing out, as described by several eyewitnesses at the scene — the angle of pointing — that it was practically a straight line with Elm Street, as Elm Street proceeds on a slight decline, so that there was no necessity for any abrupt shifting of the line of aim of the marksman as he fired multiple shots.

It was only a matter of working the bolt action and keeping it in the same line. And, any shot under 100 yards with a four-power scope, the experts concluded that it was not an extraordinarily difficult shot.

Q: With the rifle telescopic sight accurate or inaccurate, under examination by the experts? It has been alleged that he had a defective site —

But, here again, what we are dealing with is the evidence after the fact. The weapon was found a good distance from the point of the place with the assassin stood, and it was, in fact, found over near the stairs leading down and out of the building.

This leads to a very reasonable inference that, initiating was completed, then took the rifle with him to see what he encountered, and, as he got near the steps to exit from the building, he most assuredly didn't place it on the ground with great care to preserve it for its next use; he gave a pretty good toss, by all standards which are reasonable, that could have damaged the site.

It would be hard to think otherwise, under the circumstances -- which goes to point up the great difficulty of examining evidence, even after one event has transpired, and drawing finite conclusions about its condition before that event.

Q: Much is also made, Mr. Specter, of the report that the first police officer identified a different rifle — a Mauser — as compared to —

A: Well, the Manlicher-Carcano, which it was identified as being, apparently had a reboring of the hole, and you're dealing with a rifle which had many characteristics of the Mauser.

That is the type of error which could have easily been made.

That type of error and identification on a fast glance is relatively unimpressive in the light of the more detailed evidence which ballistically proved that the Manlicher-Carcano fired the bullet found on Connally's stretcher, and the fragments in the front seat of the presidential limousine — and in that area we deal with the precise science —o r with the evidence showing the purchase of that weapon from Klein's mail-order house, or with the photographs which show Oswald holding a weapon like that one and with the identification by Oswald's widow — all of which ought to be reviewed by the critical reader at the same time they hear that a police officer made a contrary tentative identification.

Q: There is no doubt in your mind that this was the murder weapon — the Manlicher-Carcano rifle that Oswald had the time on six floor of the Schoolbook Depository —

A: None whatsoever.

Q: Is it possible that there were any other weapons or that there could have been any switch of weapons?

A: All that can be said on the subject of whether there were any other weapons or any switch of weapons is that the painstaking investigation showed no evidence of any other weapon, or any switch.

Q: What about the discrepancies in witnesses' testimony with respect to the length of the paper bag that was said to have been used by Oswald to bring the rifle into the building?

A: The commission concluded that the general description of the paper bag was such that it fitted the weapon which Oswald used.

The background on that situation with that Oswald had said that he was bringing in curtain rods for his room. Later it was determined that his room had curtains and rods. The weapon was placed at the house that Oswald came from on the Friday morning.

So all of the evidence tied together to indicate that as well in fact brought the weapon into the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building under the pretext of having curtain rods.

Q: Were you at all disappointed or handicapped by the fact that the Dallas police did not keep a record of their interrogation of Oswald?

A: Well, there again, I believe that the more comprehensive the evidence is, the better it would have been. But I do not believe that the absence was a major obstacle or hindrance.

Q: There have been charges that there is a plot afoot to conceal evidence. If some high officials, say, had been in the business of deliberately concealing evidence, do you think it would have been possible to do it?

A: I think it would have been absolutely impossible for the autopsy surgeons to perjure themselves. They would have to be in league with numerous other people who were present in the room where the autopsy was conducted, including Secret Service agents and FBI agents and a whole host of people.

When the Commission was formed, President Johnson took great pains to select Commissioners who had high standing in who were independent of the Government or the so-called bureaucracy in Washington. When the Commission went out to organize its staff, it did not select people who had ties or allegiances to Government who might have been beholden to some department or another for their jobs, but, instead, chose men of outstanding reputation, like Joe Ball from California, a leader of the California bar for many years and a professor there noted for his work in criminal defense.

Similar selections were made on an independent basis from New York and Chicago and Des Moines and New Orleans and Philadelphia and in Washington—so that every conceivable pain was taken to select people who were totally independent, which is hardly the way he set out to organize a truth-concealing commission.

Q: Oswald did some pretty fast traveling the first 45 or 46 minutes after the assassination. Are you completely satisfied that he would have been physically able to get all these places at the times he is said to have appeared ?

A: Yes. By way of collaboration, Chief Justice Warren himself carried a stop watch from the window of the sixth floor in the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building and made the long walk down one corridor and up another and over to the dimly lighted steps what he descended four flights to the second floor to see if he could get to the Coke machine within the time allotted to Oswald. I saw him click the second hand off, and he made it.

Q: Did he go the whole route, to the bus, to the taxicab, over to the Oak Cliff section of Dallas?

A: He didn't take the whole route, but I think the toughest lap was from the window to the Coke room.

Q: Was the rest of it timed by somebody else?

A: Oh, absolutely.

Q: Did you ever find where Oswald got his ammunition for that rifle?

A: That is not squarely within my area of investigation. But to the best of my knowledge the source was pinpointed, because we did obtain other ammunition for the tests which were made by the wound-ballistics experts.

Q: Did the Commission ever have anyone except Oswald under suspicion as the possible perpetrator of this crime?

A: The evidence at no time indicated that there was any other perpetrator of the offense. But I think it should be noted that the Commission. contrary to some assertions, did not start with the preconceived notion that Oswald was the assassin. The Commission, I think, did its utmost, and in fact, did maintain an open mind on that subject and surveyed the evidence before coming to its conclusion.

Q: Did Oswald have any connection with the FBI or any other Government agency?

A: To the best of my knowledge, no.

Q: Mr. Specter, here is a specific statement from one of the books about the Warren Commission that has attracted wide attention: "The fact that the autopsy surgeons were not able to find a path for the bullet is further evidence that the bullet did not pass completely through the President's body." What is your answer?

A: Dr. Humes traced the path of the bullet through the President's body, and I can give you a citation to his testimony on the point.

Q: Is that statement from the book false?

A: Inter alia — among others. I don't know the word for "many" in Latin, or I would say: "Among many others."

Q: What do you think of the "two Oswalds" theory — the presumption that Oswald might have had accomplices, that persons resembling Oswald or giving his name were seen at times and places when Oswald was somewhere else?

A: Oh, well, why not make it three Oswalds? Why stop with two?

I believe that that is the type of speculation which will be engaged in for centuries where there is an event of such magnitude and of such interest as the assassination of a great President like John F. Kennedy.

Within the past few years, there have been books appearing on the Lincoln assassination, advancing new theories as to who the criminals were. And I think that there will be this type of speculation on the Kennedy assassination during my lifetime, and beyond.

Q: Have you seen, in any of the critical comments on the investigation, any new evidence, beyond what was developed by the Commission?

A: There has not been a scintilla of new evidence disclosed in any of the books, to the best of my knowledge — certainly nothing that I have read, although I have not read every line of each of the books which have been written.

In the books I have seen, they are basically a taking of the Commission evidence, which was set forth bountifully, and a reconstruction in accordance with what the authors or others may have formulated to be their views on the events.

It's important to emphasize that point: that the Commission made available all this evidence because it welcomed the free rein of inquiry and expression on this point. It's a free country, and people may formulate their own conclusions. But the evidence — sifted carefully and taken as a whole — I think, forcefully supports the Warren Commission's findings and conclusions.

Q: As the district attorney of a big city, do you feel you could have successfully prosecuted the case against Oswald on the basis of evidence dug up by the Warren Commission?

A: That would have been a hard one to lose.

Q: If you had been on a jury hearing the case, would you have voted for hanging?

A: Well, now, you ask a question about penalty. I think that, on the question of innocence or guilt, realistically viewed, there was no area of doubt as to Oswald's being the assassin.

When you move beyond that into the proofs of negatives, you involve the complex matters we have already discussed.

I would say that, in my years of experience as an assistant district attorney and as district attorney of Philadelphia, I have never seen a case presented in a courtroom that is as convincing as is the case against Oswald where there are not numerous eyewitnesses to the crime.

I would add that I have never seen the resources devoted to the determination of the truth as were the resources of the United States of America devoted in this case. We simply cannot investigate a matter which arises from a killing in Philadelphia County with the kind of thoroughness that was used on the Kennedy-assassination investigation. There has been no equal of this kind of inquiry, not only in Philadelphia, but anywhere, to my knowledge.

Q: To put it another way: If Oswald had lived and had a good criminal lawyer working vigorously with all the elements in this case, could reasonable doubt have been created in the minds of a judge or a jury?

A: On the basis of the evidence which I have reviewed, I think it is as certain as the presentation of any case can be in court that Oswald would have been convicted.

Q: Here is another statement from a book on this subject: "The case of the stretcher bullet illustrates the limits of the investigation. In 10 days or even in 10 weeks, a single lawyer could not exhaust all the facts and possibilities in such a broad area as the basic facts of the assassination. Arlen Specter spent only about 10 days on his investigation in Dallas. Quite obviously, he had to concentrate on major problems and neglect some of the more minor ones."

A: The author is sweeping in his criticism, but not specific at all in pointing up what "minor problems" as he theorizes them to be, were overlooked.

The fact of the matter is that I spent more than 10 days in Dallas, that the actual time I was in Dallas accounted for only a minor part of the investigation work which was done for my areas of inquiry — most of which were performed, obviously, by federal investigative agencies, since the Commission lawyers could not do all of the investigation.

On the quotation you just read relating to the bullet on the stretcher, there are other references to a preconceived notion, which, says the author, the Commission lawyer had. But what he is not experienced enough to have understood, when he read my questioning of those witnesses where the timing was set forth, is this:

I went to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, for example, and I interviewed everybody at Parkland Hospital in the course of a relatively few hours, some 20-odd witnesses. But I did not go there with a tabula rosa to work on, to start gathering names and information likely to be needed.

I appeared at Parkland Hospital having reviewed files of materials as to what preliminary investigation had shown.

So I sent ahead a list of witnesses whom I wanted to see, so I could get to the heart of the matter and question under oath and in more detail perhaps than the previous interviews had been conducted and for the public to read at a later date.

The preliminary information had already been given to me, and I could move in a relatively straight line to the information I sought, because there had already been extensive investigations conducted.

This is virtually always done in any matter where an attorney comes in to look over the evidence — this spade work has been done. Otherwise, he would have to sift through hundreds of witnesses to come to the point where we begin that line of questioning on those specific witnesses at Parkland Hospital.

Q: Did the Commission deny any witnesses the right to be heard or refuse to hear anyone claiming to have pertinent information?

A: Absolutely not. In fact, the converse was true. The Commission went far and wide to solicit information from every conceivable source whatsoever.

Q: It has been reported that some members of the Commission did not attend all the meetings. And the presumption is that this affects the credibility, or reliability, of the Commission report. Was it, in fact, necessary for every member of the Commission to be present at all times?

A: It certainly could not be characterized as a necessity. Obviously, the more everyone knows, the better would be the position for making judgments and conclusions. But, even though a commissioner was not present at a hearing, the transcript, or notes of testimony, was available and was circulated for all the commissioners.

But, as a preliminary to evaluating a matter of that sort, it must be remembered that, when the President asked Chief Justice Earl Warren to serve as chairman of this Commission, he did so with the full knowledge that the Chief Justice had very heavy responsibilities on the Supreme Court.

The same applied to Senator Russell, who had very heavy duties in his senatorial committees, and as well as Senator Cooper. And, in selecting representatives Ford and Boggs, the President picked two of the busiest members on the Hill.

The same would apply to Allen Dulles and John McCloy, who had other responsibilities. So it had to be known in advance that a great deal of work would have to be performed by staff, with the commissioners themselves exercising the normal executive functions of supervision, review and decision-making.

Q: One critic has written this: "The Commission did not do an adequate investigative job, did not weigh all the data carefully, rushed through its work, had no investigative staff of its own, and a few overworked lawyers, who, in a very short time, had to interview and check hundreds of witnesses. And the report was written and rewritten in haste to make a lawyer's brief for the official theory." What is your answer?

A: The sweeping generalization of that statement is notable only for its melodramatic conclusion that nothing was done right at all. I think that the earmark of that kind of generalization indicates the motivation of the author.

The facts are quite the contrary.

Taken in individual steps: The lawyers for the Commission worked hard, but, in my opinion, were not overworked. We were under pressure, as is any man who does any responsible job in this country. But we did have sufficient time to do a responsible and thorough job. Where necessary, the times were extended. The commissioners themselves paid close attention to the work of the Commission. The Chief Justice was a dominant figure moving throughout the entire investigation, and so were the other commissioners in terms of knowing and understanding and participating in the scope and depth of the Commission's work.

I believe the Commission's work was exhaustive; it was painstaking, and it compiled the most complete report that was possible under the circumstances — and, I think, clearly an adequate report.

Q: Does the fact that you used the Federal Government's own investigative agencies impair the impartiality or effectiveness of the investigation?

A: In choosing the ideal tools available, it would have been highly desirable to have a totally independent investigative force from some other land, coupled with commissioners who could work full time on the project at hand, coupled further with unlimited lawyers to do every conceivable job possible.

But, even with the might of the United States Government at one's disposal, it is not possible to organize an investigative team from thin air. So it was a very reasonable choice to have basic material sifted by federal agencies of one sort or another.

Where the Commission chose not to rely upon a particular federal agency, it had many others to choose from. When that work was done, there was a substantial staff left to cull through the material and make an independent analysis.

I think the independence of the Commission is demonstrated by its candid criticism of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service.

Where criticism was appropriate, the Chief Justice and the other commissioners did not shirk their responsibility to set it forth.

Q: Did you also use any private and independent means of investigation?

A: Absolutely. When it came to the question of double-check on ballistic material, there were independent experts brought in who had no Federal Government connections. When it came to the question of the depth of some of the tests — such as those made by the wound-ballistics people — they were from the Army, but they were the best experts available. So there was a wide scope of federal talent used, and substantial nonfederal talent used as well.

Q: If you had this to do over again, are there any changes in methods or procedure that you would recommend?

A: Inevitably in the course of a lengthy investigation, there are procedures which would be improved upon. But I do not believe that the ultimate conclusions of the Commission would be affected in any way by any change in methods or procedures.

Q: Would you say that any cover-up of evidence in this case would mean, in effect, that a large number of reputable people were in collusion?

A: Well, I think that is the precise thrust of some of the material which has been written — that a conspiracy of deceit goes into the upper echelons of the Commission itself, permeates its ranks, and is widespread throughout everything the Commission has done.

I think it is preposterous to suggest that the Chief Justice or any other commissioner would conceal the truth from the American people, or that reputable federal officers would perjure themselves.


Q: Do you think anything new could be brought out by a reopening of this investigation?

A: I do not believe that a reopening of the investigation would disclose any additional evidence, based on all that which is known at the present time.

But I would not make any statement which would be in opposition to any such reopening of an investigation, just as I would not make any statement that would suggest a limitation on any scholar's work in reviewing, analyzing or disagreeing with anything the Commission has said. It's a free country.


In the following statement, Arlen Specter explains why he granted the interview on these pages:

"When I was asked if I would agree to talk to U. S. News and World Report on the subject of the Warren Commission's investigation of the Kennedy assassination, I decided, after considerable thought, that my answer would be 'Yes' — in view of the public concern that has arisen in the wake of books on the Commission.

"I am willing to answer questions which may shed light on the subject and clear up areas of misunderstanding that may exist in the public mind as a result of what has been written and widely published.

"In this regard, I believe that the Commission Report itself, and certainly the 26 volumes of evidence, contain within their covers the comprehensive answers to all substantive questions. However, it is not easy for those answers to be available to the average person, who may have read the buckshot attacks which have been forthcoming against the Commission Report.

"To put some of the criticism into proper focus, I am willing to respond to questions and point out parts of the Report and areas of evidence which I consider complete answers to the so-called critics."

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 10, 1966, issue of U.S. News & World Report. For more about John F. Kennedy, visit JFK: 50 Years Later .

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An Oral History of Arlen Specter

Get a compelling long read and must-have lifestyle tips in your inbox every sunday morning — great with coffee, ii. the d.a. years: “it was hard to like arlen”.

After his work on the Warren Commission, Specter returned to Philadelphia to spearhead a state investigation of the magistrate system. In 1965, in the midst of the inquiry, he announced he was running for district attorney against incumbent James Crumlish. He won, and quickly gained a reputation for being exceedingly bright and exceedingly difficult to work for. He revolutionized the office by hiring smart young assistant D.A.’s regardless of their political affiliation.

Lynne Abraham, current Philadelphia District Attorney: I first met Arlen when he interviewed me to be an assistant D.A. I didn’t know him from a can of paint. In the previous D.A. administration — the Crumlish–Fitzpatrick team — I’d tried to get in. But in those days, the first question put to you was, “Who’s your ward leader?” I had no idea who my ward leader was. I was working at HUD and despised my job. I took a night course at Temple Law taught by Dick Sprague, who was Arlen’s number two. He asked me, “Who are you? Why are you not in the D.A.’s office?” I told him I didn’t know my ward leader. He said, “That’s not the way it is under Arlen.” When Arlen interviewed me, I told him I’d take a job on one condition: that they didn’t stick me in juvenile court with all the other girl lawyers. He said [Abraham goes into an impression of Specter], “Just a minute, young lady.” He was dumbstruck. No one talked to Arlen Specter that way. But he must have figured that if I spoke to him like that, I wouldn’t be a pushover in the courtroom, and true to his word, I started as an ADA going toe-to-toe with the men.

Ed Rendell, Governor: As his employee, it was hard to like Arlen. You didn’t dislike him, but he never showed you his softer side. But you respected him. And you feared him. I once had an 8 a.m. meeting scheduled in Arlen’s office with six other ADAs, and I got there eight minutes late. He ripped me a new rear end, in front of everybody. I don’t like thinking about it even now. “If this were a private law firm, you just wasted one-sixth of an hour of your bottom line,” he said. That was how Arlen led: It was that feeling of, it’s us vs. the world. He could be frightening, but also inspiring. He had a knack for making his ADAs feel like we were the last guardians at the gates of Hell vs. the forces of evil.

Arthur Makadon, chairman, Ballard Spahr: As a boss, he was very, very demanding and very, very good. Suffice to say, he was a serious taskmaster. Everyone describes Arlen as “tough.” I would not. I would describe him as smarter than the people with whom he deals.

Lynne Abraham: He’d conduct those daily staff meetings in courtroom 653 in City Hall. We’d all sit in the jury box, and you’d have to stand up and tell how your day went. He’d give you an instantaneous critique. Let’s say you had 25 cases and 10 weren’t reached; he’d say, “What do you mean 10 weren’t reached?” And I’d say, Judge So-and-So didn’t get to them. He’d say, “I don’t care about Judge So-and-So. You’re in charge of your courtroom.” Arlen never wanted to hear excuses.

Ed Rendell: Did anyone tell you about the five o’clock staff meetings? We dreaded them. You’d have to give an update on your cases, and if it was a favorable report, there would be no praise. He’d just say, “Okay.” If there were too many continuances, or if you lost a case, he’d rip you. He’d call you on everything you did. You were petrified.

Arthur Makadon: I was with him throughout his second term in office, and those were the most informative professional years of my life. I learned more in those four years than in the rest of the years I practiced the law.

Arlen Specter, from his book: At the time, I knew those staff meetings were tough, but I thought they were necessary. … My approach was to make my assistants prefer to take a strong stand to get cases tried and appropriate sentences imposed with recalcitrant judges than to face me in the staff meetings with weak excuses for not getting the job done. … In retrospect, I should have done it differently.

Ed Rendell: When I became D.A., I didn’t rule by fear like Arlen, but I would take pages out of his book at times. At around 7:30, I used to walk around like he would and see who was staying and working late and thank them — that tended to keep people around on the job later.

Elliott Curson, political consultant who did commercials for several Specter campaigns: The surprising thing is that there is a nice, warm, friendly side to him. It doesn’t come out very often, but it is there.

Lynne Abraham: Nobody should underestimate the role [wife] Joan plays for Arlen. She’s a leavening agent. She’s softer, kinder, sweeter. He’s always called her “Blondie.”

Ed Rendell: He has a dry sense of humor. I’ll have to think of some examples of his sense of humor, but he can be funny.

Lynne Abraham: He seems like an automaton — until he’s had a couple of martinis. With a couple of drinks in him, he’s the funniest guy in the room. I can’t remember any specific instances of his sense of humor — but he has one.

Michael Smerconish: He’s got a great, dry sense of humor. One-liners. I can’t think of any specific examples, but he’s funny.

III. A Loss, a Win: Tougher, Younger …

In 1967, after little more than a year on the job as D.A., Specter announced his run for mayor against incumbent James Tate. He narrowly lost the election, but came back two years later to win reelection as D.A., campaigning with former LaSalle basketball star Tom Gola, who was running for City Controller, using one of the most famous slogans in local political history.

Elliott Curson, consultant on the 1969 campaign: When he ran his 1967 mayoral campaign, I was on the sidelines. He had somebody run a terrible campaign for him. It was his to lose, and he lost it. Here was this tough, honest, outspoken district attorney, and he came out with a jingle: “Philadelphia is our land/Arlen is our man/Aren’t you glad he’s now running for mayor.”

Lynne Abraham: When he ran for mayor, one of the issues that did him in was aid to parochial schools. He started talking about a “constitutional umbrella.” I said to myself, “Oh, please, Arlen, people don’t want to hear about the separation of church and state. They want to know if you’re going to help Catholic kids.” But that’s who he is: someone who is obsessed with arcane intricacies of law.

Elliott Curson: What I did was end all the radio advertising with the phrase: “They’re tougher. They’re younger. And nobody owns them.” I like the short and choppy sentences. I started with, “They’re smarter. They’re younger. And nobody runs them.” Then Steve Harmelin — a lawyer I introduced to Arlen in 1967 — came into my office, and he said, “Nobody is looking for somebody who’s smarter. They’re looking for somebody who’s tougher.” Then I changed “Nobody runs them” to “Nobody owns them.” “Runs them” was too complicated.

Ed Rendell: I’ve never been much of a drinker, but one night during that election, we were out until about two in the morning, and I think I was drinking gin. I just remember getting back to my apartment at two in the morning, running up the stairs, yelling at the top of my lungs: “They’re young! They’re tough! And nobody owns them!” I got my key in the door and made it to the bathroom just in time to get sick.

IV. From Three-Time Loser to the Senate

Specter decided to run for a third term as D.A. in 1973, despite the fact that he no longer wanted the job. With Watergate dominating the front page and Republican candidates taking a beating, Specter lost to Emmett Fitzpatrick and was ushered into the most fallow period of his political career. Over the next six years, he lost primary elections for senator and governor. Finally, in 1980, after Senator Richard Schweiker decided to retire, Specter won the Republican primary and then beat Pittsburgh mayor Pete Flaherty to become a U.S. senator.

Elliott Curson: He didn’t really want to run in 1973. He wanted to run for governor the next year, and [Republican Party boss] Billy Meehan said, “No, I got 42 judges up for reelection, you gotta run.” He ran his own campaign. It was not an energetic campaign. He was just getting it out of the way so he could get the nomination to run for governor. And he went down in defeat. That was the end of the Republican Party in Philadelphia.

Mark Klugheit: He had lost a primary for the Senate to Heinz, and he had lost a primary to Thornburgh. He was on a losing streak. People thought he ought to get the political bug out of his body and be a practicing lawyer. I don’t think Arlen ever thought that.

Michael Smerconish: I met Specter when I crashed a $500-per-person fund-raiser for him at the Bellevue in 1980. Ronald Reagan was there, and I wanted to meet him. In my only blue sport coat and a wide knit tie, I walked in. That’s where I met Shanin [Specter, Arlen’s son], and we became close friends. Later, I ran for the state legislature in my second year of law school, from Bucks County, and Senator Specter invited me to be the campaign manager for Philadelphia in his 1986 race against Bob Edgar. That was the transition from family friend to someone working on the team. In that campaign, we had an office at Broad and Spruce — where Ruth’s Chris is now. I remember a particular day, he was in Center City and was due at headquarters at some point. We had protesters arrive on our sidewalk. What they were protesting, I don’t remember, but I felt obliged to call and warn him so he could delay his return to avoid the protesters. In what I learned to be typical Specter, all that made him do was have the driver floor it to get back to the campaign headquarters, where the action was.

Mark Klugheit: I think when the 1980 election came along, the seat was pretty much an open seat; there was not a really strong Republican. His principal opponent was a guy nobody had heard of, Bud Haabestad, so I think Arlen saw an opportunity. He’s never been one to be dissuaded by what other people think. He saw an opportunity to get back in the game.

Arlen Specter, from his book: When I first came to the Senate, watching senators congregate and talk on the floor, I thought of Valhalla, the meeting place of the Norse gods. I watched with some awe prominent senators about whom I’d read for years come in to vote: Barry Goldwater, Scoop Jackson, Bob Dole, Ted Kennedy, John Tower. … This is not to say the Senate always inspires goose bumps. Senator Dale Bumpers of Arkansas and I used the Senate gym at about the same hour and had long talks in the steam room. One of the earliest bits of advice Bumpers gave me was, “Arlen, you’re going to spend the first six months wondering how you got here, and then you’re going to spend the next five and a half years wondering how the other guys got here.”

Michael Smerconish: When Shanin was at Cambridge, his father, a freshman senator at the time, came over. And his father debated at Cambridge the proposition that “The Soviet Union is, by definition, an evil empire.” And the tradition at Cambridge in debating is that audience members exit a particular door based on who they think won the debate. When the debate was over, Arlen refused to budge from the room until every person had walked out the door. He needed to know if he’d won or lost.

Ed Rendell: When I ran and lost in those two elections within the span of a year — governor in ’86 and mayor in ’87 — after you lose like that, people tend to stay away and write you off. Arlen was one of the few to call and say, “Keep your chin up, you never know what can happen down the road.” He didn’t have to do that, call a twice-defeated Democrat.

Michael Smerconish: I remember Mother’s Day, 1991. I had to go to his house in East Falls and ask for his support to be the regional director of HUD. It was a painful meeting. Bill Meehan was the Republican boss, and he didn’t want the first Bush administration appointing me. Meehan got on a train and went to the White House to campaign against me. And I had this relationship with Arlen Specter, and it put Specter in a tough position. So he’d been noncommittal, and on that day, I had to go to his house for a one-on-one meeting in the front porch room. In the end, he bucked the wishes of Meehan and let the White House know I was his choice. So here’s the one elected official to whom I most owe the job, and he’s the only elected official I can think of in the tri-state area who didn’t pick up the phone and ask for something [while I was with HUD]. The one guy who would be the most deserving of a payback is the one guy who wouldn’t ask.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

a guy at the jersey shore using spray sunscreen and thusly breaking the most basic Jersey Shore rules

The 10 Worst People You Will Meet at the Jersey Shore, Ranked

arlen specter wait a minute

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arlen specter wait a minute

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Meet Nalin Haley, Nikki Haley’s Insult-Hurling Son at Villanova

Philly’s great office building conversion needs to start right now, how does somebody get 12 pennsylvania duis, 3 days only for great deals, new ideas & practical advice.



The New York Times

The caucus | eruptions at sen. specter’s town-hall meeting.

The Caucus - The Politics and Government blog of The New York Times

Eruptions at Sen. Specter’s Town-Hall Meeting

Craig Miller shouted at Senator Specter during the town hall.

LEBANON, Pa. — Senator Arlen Specter and his staff tried mightily to control a town hall meeting this morning but he was repeatedly booed and heckled by a majority of the 250 people inside a large hall here at the Harrisburg Area Community College. At least 700 more were kept outside, police said.

Inside, fury erupted over a range of topics, from health care to immigration, government spending and the cap-and-trade program to control pollution. Many also expressed broad if unspecified disdain for the government and for President Obama.

“Where do you see an honest man in politics?” one man asked Mr. Specter. “Tell Obama to represent us as an American and if not, there’s other countries!”

Senator Specter responded, “President Obama knows he’s an American,” when the crowd shouted back, “No!”

Slide Show: Anger at Town-Hall Meeting

Town Hall

In one angry confrontation, Craig Anthony Miller, 59, standing two feet from the Senator, shouted into his face, “You are trampling on our Constitution!” A half-dozen security people quickly swarmed in on Mr. Miller but refrained from touching him as Mr. Specter, raising his voice, said sternly, “Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” He said the man had the right to leave.

Mr. Miller, shaking, stood his ground. He said he was furious that the Senator’s staff had limited the questioning by handing out cards to the first 30 people who wanted to ask questions. “I got news for you,” Mr. Miller shouted. “You and your cronies in the government do this kind of stuff all the time,” at which point the audience burst into loud applause. “One day, God is going to stand before you and he’s going to judge you!”

As the man left the hall, Mr. Specter said, “We’ve just had a demonstration of democracy.” He said later in an interview that he did not want the man ejected because that “would have become the story.”

Mr. Specter sought to control the meeting, having had a rough experience a week ago Sunday when his town hall meeting in Philadelphia was disrupted by shouting crowds. This time, he allotted 90 minutes for 30 questions. His staff handed out cards to the first 30 people who had filed into the room. They had been lining up since 6:30 in the morning for a meeting that started at 9:30.

The overwhelming majority in line and in the hall seemed opposed to any overhaul of the health care system; those in favor were quiet and hard to find. The questioners repeatedly complained that they had been called a mob.

Mr. Specter sought to control the meeting

Rather than flinch at the shouting, as he appeared to do in the Philadelphia meeting, Mr. Specter stood close to each person who asked a question and stood silently while they shouted at him. He and his staff controlled the microphones, a deliberate strategy to try to prevent the event from getting out of hand.

The questioners did not hide their anger, and they egged each other on, but after a half hour or so, the meeting found a calmer rhythm. Afterward, Mr. Specter declared it a success.

He told reporters that the crowd was “more sedate” than one in Philadelphia. He said he thought some of the objectors were genuine grassroots and some were organized, egged on by talk radio. He also noted that his office had sent out mailers notifying them of the event.

Still, he said these events had showed him that “there’s more anger in America today than at any time than I can remember.” He blamed the anger largely on the ailing economy and high unemployment.

But many of the attendees blamed their anger on the government and what they described as its increasingly socialist slant.

“This is the Soviet Union, this is Maoist China,” one man yelled to him. “The people in this room want their country back.”

Comments are no longer being accepted.

it’s difficult to respond rationally to irrational people.

those health care reform protesters must be the same people who still approve of gw bush.

Get the government out of these fools’ lives – Yank their Medicare and their Social Security for starters and close the local branch of the US Post Office.

“The people in this room want their country back.”

Those that do should call George W. Bush. He’s the one who cost them their jobs and economic security. That’s what this debate is all about, not healthcare.

I give Sen. Specter credit for attending the meeting and sricking it out. While I’m not a fan of his at least he, unlike some others, is willing to listen.

So it’s socialist to want to give more people health care? What would Jesus do, I wonder?

Gee, will a national health plan cover blood pressure drugs for these town halls?

When the middle of the road gets depopulated, the double yellow lines define the kill zone.

Is this the guy from Health lobby? It seems that these people don’t have genuine concerns about health-care as much as they have concerns about health-care lobby and nutjobs republicans.

“Anger is an Energy”

It seems that the Anger with the Government, is the same fuel that gave “Change You Can Believe In” life and Obama the Presidency.

Now 6 months later, it is Partisanship Politics as Usual, with the Government not listening or representing the Majority of Americans.

The People can only take so much…or I should say, GIVE so much.

What country, exactly, do these people “want back?” W’s “America,” where “patriotism” was defined as unquestioning loyalty?

I think that someone might point out to the man that the soviet union no longer exists and that china has changed a bit since 1960…To the radical right…Being afraid of one’s shadow is not a good frame of mind for making important decisions.

I blame Rush.

The American people have allowed politicians to become entrenched…and they’ve allowed it because the old polticial hands can bring largese back to the states and districts they represent. Shame on us. We need to throw the rascals out and set term limits on senators and representatives just as we have limits on the President. The government governs best, is the one that governs least.

We are being outshouted by this organized mob of right-wing nuts. Where are you all who truly believe in the right of EVERY citizen to have equal access to good health care? Will you let this angry vocal minority of too-dumb-to-think-for-themselves Limbaugh zealots to steal the debate and hand it over their rich overlords? If you so, shame on you! Stand up now and count!

Do constituents who disagree with the legislator automatically constitute a mob?

yes, blacklight let’s free these people from government shackles. No more highways, military or national guard during floods. Government is just one big enabler! Let free-dumb ring!

But it never really was yours alone, as much as the power brokers would like you to believe that it was.

It has been largely the domain of the rich for a long time. And lately it has come to be shared with people of different genders, religion, skin color, nationality, and even politics.

But the rich and powerful do well when you think something ( that you never really had) has been taken away from you.

Moreover, if it had been yours alone, you ought not to be all that proud of what you have done with it..

This country is the best idea people ever had. But it may cease to be livable or even functional in this century, buried in hatred and ignorance. Sad.

I watched this townhall meeting. It was filled with scared people who were ignorant of the facts. It is time Americans took their health back from the insurance companies.

“There’s more anger in America today than at any time that I can remember.” – Arlen Specter, former Republican Senator who’s now a Democrat.

How long have you been in office, Senator? Since 1980. So much for a healthy liberal democracy.

If you want an answer as to why the anger is growing in America today, Senator, take a look in the mirror.

Comparing America to the Soviet Union and Maoist China is a clear indication that these people have no idea what they`re talking about. Those comments are more than mere exaggerations and hyperbole. They are ridiculous and stand squarely in the way of having any kind of meaningful discussion. They can say and think whatever crazy stuff they want but shame on them for their lack of civility.

This isn’t democracy in action; it’s fascism–the mobilization of the racial and cultural anxieties of segments of the lower-middle-class that would rather scapegoat the Other than reflect on ts own self-interest. If ever there was a need for a strong labor movement, it’s today.

In the Senate, the rules are such that a minority can exert tremendous influence. We saw that when the concealed carry across state lines bill failed to pass even though it had a simple majority (which I, for one, was pleased about). Similarly here a minority of undetirmined size is trying to dictate the outcome of health care legislation for the rest of us. Sure, they’re angry, but just because you say you care more about an issue than I do doesn’t mean your opinions are more important than mine.

Except in America, 2009. Land of the birthers.

Comment 2 got this spot on. I had to be vengeful and childish, but don’t people understand the extent to which government has helped their lives? Take away their Medicare and see how much that hurts.

Rushpublicans and the New Confederacy are restoring the Real America of our founders, only wealthy white men need apply.

It is time for those of us who are civil to take back our country from the loud mouth mob’s. I’ve listened to many of them and they are uninformed, in a word ignorant of the facts.

I suggest that all of these socialist hating folks do the following.

Do not sign up for social security.

Do not sign up for medicare/ medicaid.

Home school your children( taxes pay for the school expenses)

Walk everywhere, roads are paid for by taxes.

You get the picture folks.

Who ever planted the idea of socialism in your peas sized brain found fertile ground.

I love that they want “their” country back. Since when did the rule of the country belong to a minority?

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Lemon by N.E.R.D (featuring Rihanna )

arlen specter wait a minute


  • This is the first official single released by N.E.R.D in seven years. Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley last shared an official single in 2010 with " Hypnotize U " from their fourth studio album Nothing . The trio did however release promotional songs " Squeeze Me ," "Patrick Star", and "Sandy Squirrel" from the soundtrack to the 2014 film The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water .
  • Rihanna appears on the track delivering a tough-talking rap verse about a woman who shines bright because of her beauty. The track dates back to 2014, and was originally written for Puff Daddy before the Bajan songstress came into the picture. On January 3, 2015, Rihanna shared a bikini photo on Instagram accompanied by the caption, "Tell da paparazzi get the lens right." It turns out, this is a line from the song's chorus, where Rihanna and Pharrell sing: Nigga the Veyron glide Tell the paparazzi get the lens right Williams told Zane Lowe in a Beats 1 interview that after penning the track for Rihanna the band later decided to "add a punk type situation" to the song.
  • According to the credits, Pharrell and Kuk Harrell produced the track with Williams listed as the lone songwriter and composer. Fellow N.E.R.D members Chad Hugo and Shay Haley's names are nowhere to be found.
  • The interlude features samples of the former United States Senator, Arlen Specter, shouting "wait a minute" at a 2009 Pennsylvania town hall meeting, as well as phrases borrowed from the 2015 viral Twitter video recorded by rap artist Retch.
  • The energetic Todd Tourso and Scott Cudmore-directed video starts out with Rihanna shaving model and dancer Mette Towley's head then for the rest of the clip the newly bald Towley struts a high-energy, booty-shaking dance routine. Mette Towley has been a member of Pharrell's dance squad known as the "The Baes" since 2013. Speaking to The Fader about the clip, she said: "It's not about the hair. It's about my physical presence - how I was able to commit was because of this incredible team and what we did together. It was a transformation for me."
  • When the song debuted at #65 on the Hot 100 dated November 25, 2017, it marked N.E.R.D's first-ever entry on the chart.
  • This features in a commercial for Beats wireless headphones where Mette Towley dances to the song in a driveway while the guys from N.E.R.D look on from the top of a van.
  • Pharrell opens the song by repeating a variation of Jesus' words in John 8:32. The truth will set you free But first, it'll piss you off Pharrell told The Guardian the opening lyrics were inspired by a speech feminist icon Gloria Steinem gave in 1998.
  • Rihanna performed "Lemon" live for the first time on December 21, 2017 as part of her set at the Top Dawg Entertainment holiday party in Los Angeles.
  • Mette Towley told The Independent : "We had a lot of conversations about what 'Lemon' meant, and to me it was almost like a revenge video. Her [Rihanna] cutting my hair was almost like a reset, stepping into new ways of being. And my new way for 'Lemon' is like a mirror of what I was going through at the time. It was like saying: 'Mette, you gotta own it. You gotta own your presence.' I think all of us do. It was definitely personal."
  • Drake jumped on the song's remix, which was premiered by Pharrell on a special episode of Drizzy's Beats 1 OVO Sound Radio show on March 17, 2018. The new version finds the Toronto MC delivering some luxury rhymes about how he lives it.
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Watch CBS News

Former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter Dies At 82

October 14, 2012 / 5:05 PM EDT / CBS Pittsburgh

HARRISBURG (KDKA/AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Republican-turned-Democrat who played a key role in many Supreme Court nominations, has died. He was 82.

His son, Shanin Specter, says his father died Sunday morning at his home in Philadelphia, from complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

In some ways Arlen Specter's whole life was a fight.

Born in Kansas in 1930, his family fought to survive during the Depression. After coming east for college and Law school, Specter fought criminals as a prosecutor in Philadelphia.

And, after President Kennedy was killed in 1963, Specter would find himself in a never-ending fight with those who claimed the assassination was a conspiracy.

As counsel to the Warren Commission, it was Specter who developed the single-bullet theory. Decades later, he'd still be defending it even as the doubters fought back.

"The single bullet theory, which I worked on, has been upheld after numerous reexaminations by the networks, by many books," Specter said.

Specter would go on to lose a few rounds in political campaigns; but in 1980, he won election to the U.S. Senate and would go on to win reelection four times - serving 30 years, a Pennsylvania record.

The nation took note of Specter's fighting spirit in 1991.

His aggressive questioning of Anita Hill, a witness in the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, angered feminists.

But more recent were his fights against serious illness. By 2005, he had already beaten a brain tumor and bypass surgery, but now it was cancer.

"If you have to get something, Hodgkin's is about the best of the bad things to get," he said at a press conference.

He joked about a side effect of his treatment - going bald:

"I'm now considering the alternatives of being a new sex symbol… you certain couldn't make me an old sex symbol; either a new sex symbol or wearing baseball caps, and my sense is to wear baseball caps."

  • Elsie Hillman's Statement
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He thought that fight had been won, but within three years, a recurrence.

"I consider it another bump in the road," he said. "I've had a lot of bumps."

And as that battle endured, Specter also knew he faced the most serious fight yet for his political life. A centrist Republican, Specter could feel his political footing fail him as the Tea Party gained strength.

When he announced he was becoming a Democrat in 2009, he said he was merely following hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania Republicans who had already made the switch.

"The party has shifted very far to the right," he said. "It was pretty far to the right in 2004, but you take away a couple hundred thousand Republicans and they want to vote in a Democratic Primary, they're dissatisfied with the party is a pretty obvious conclusion."

The party switch would put him in a Primary battle in the 2010 midterms against then-Congressman Joe Sestak. At age 80, Specter was a fighter still.

"You say I'm as hard charging as ever, I don't think that's so, I think I'm harder charging than ever because I've got more experience now," he said.

But this time the battle was lost and on that election night, his supporters knew an unprecedented era in Pennsylvania politics was ending.

"It's been a great privilege to serve the people of Pennsylvania," he told the crowd.

But in the very end, if you didn't think Specter would go out swinging, you hadn't been paying attention. As he spoke on the Senate floor for the final time he railed against a rush to the political extremes.

"In some quarters, compromise has become a dirty word," he said.

And he let out a battle cry against partisan gridlock. Rather than a farewell address, the combative senator said this was a closing argument.

RELATED LINKS: More News On former Sen. Specter More Political News

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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'Arlen Specter was always a fighter': Former Pennsylvania senator, 82, dies of cancer

Former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, the outspoken Pennsylvania centrist who switched from Republican to Democrat, died Sunday. He was 82

Article content

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, the outspoken Pennsylvania centrist whose switch from Republican to Democrat ended a 30-year career in which he played a pivotal role in several Supreme Court nominations, died Sunday. He was 82.

Specter, who announced in late August that he was battling cancer, died at his home in Philadelphia from complications of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, said his son Shanin. Over the years, Arlen Specter had fought two previous bouts with Hodgkin lymphoma, overcome a brain tumor and survived cardiac arrest following bypass surgery.

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Specter rose to prominence in the 1960s as an aggressive Philadelphia prosecutor and as an assistant counsel to the Warren Commission, developing the single-bullet theory that posited just one bullet struck both President Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally – an assumption critical to the argument that presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. The theory remains controversial and was the focus of Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie “JFK.”

In 1987, Specter helped thwart the Supreme Court nomination of former federal appeals Judge Robert H. Bork — earning him conservative enemies who still bitterly refer to such rejections as being “borked.

But four years later, Specter was criticized by liberals for his tough questioning of Anita Hill at Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination hearings and for accusing her of committing “flat-out perjury.” The nationally televised interrogation incensed women’s groups and nearly cost him his seat in 1992.

Specter was Pennsylvania’s longest-serving senator when Democrats picked then-U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak over him in the 2010 primary, despite Specter’s endorsements by President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders. Sestak lost Specter’s seat to conservative Republican Rep. Pat Toomey by 2 percentage points.

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A political moderate, Specter was swept into the Senate in the Reagan landslide of 1980.

He took credit for helping to defeat President Clinton’s national health care plan – the complexities of which he highlighted in a gigantic chart that hung on his office wall for years afterward – and helped lead the investigation into Gulf War syndrome, the name given to a collection of symptoms experienced by veterans of the war that include fatigue, memory loss, pain and difficulty sleeping. Following the Iran-Contra scandal, he pushed legislation that created the inspectors general of the CIA.

As a senior member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, Specter pushed for increased funding for stem-cell research, breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and supported several labor-backed initiatives in a GOP-led Congress. He also doggedly sought federal funds for local projects in his home state.

Specter was not shy about bucking fellow Republicans.

In 1995, he launched a presidential bid, denouncing religious conservatives as the “fringe” that plays too large a role in setting the party’s agenda. Specter, who was Jewish, bowed out before the first primary because of lackluster fundraising.

Despite his tireless campaigning, Specter’s irascible independence caught up with him in 2004. Specter barely survived a GOP primary challenge by Toomey by 17,000 votes of more than 1.4 million cast. He went on to easily win the general election with the help of organized labor, a traditionally Democratic constituency.

Specter startled fellow senators in April 2009 when he announced he was switching to the Democratic side, saying he found himself “increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy.” Earlier in the year, he had been one of only three Republicans in Congress – and the only one facing re-election in 2010 – who voted for President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill.

My change in party will enable me to be re-elected

He also said he had concluded that his chance of defeating a GOP challenger in the 2010 party primary was bleak. But he said the Democrats couldn’t count on him to be “an automatic 60th vote” to give the party a filibuster-proof majority.

Specter outspent Sestak, a retired Navy vice admiral, but Sestak attacked him as a political opportunist who switched parties to save his job. A memorable campaign ad used Specter’s own words against him: “My change in party will enable me to be re-elected.”

Specter was diagnosed in 2005 with stage IV Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Announcing the diagnosis with his trademark doggedness, Specter said: “I have beaten a brain tumor, bypass heart surgery and many tough political opponents and I’m going to beat this, too.”

“Arlen Specter was always a fighter,” Obama said in a statement Sunday. “From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent – never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve. He brought that same toughness and determination to his personal struggles.”

He wrote of his struggle in a 2008 book, “Never Give In: Battling Cancer in the Senate,” saying he wanted to let others facing similar crises “ought to know they are not alone.”

Cancer handed him “a stark look at mortality” and an “added sense of humility,” Specter told The Associated Press

Intellectual and stubborn, Specter played squash nearly every day into his mid-70s and liked to unwind with a martini or two at night. He took the lead on a wide spectrum of issues and was no stranger to controversy.

Born in Wichita, Kan., on Feb. 12, 1930, Specter spent summers toiling in his father’s junkyard in Russell, Kan., where he knew another future senator – Bob Dole. The junkyard thrived during World War II, allowing Specter’s father to send his four children to college.

Specter left Kansas for college in 1947 because the University of Kansas, where his best friends were headed, did not have Jewish fraternities. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1951 and Yale law school in 1956. He served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1953.

Friends say his childhood circumstances made him determined, tough and independent-minded. Specter considered his father’s triumphs the embodiment of the American dream, a fulfillment that friends say drove him to a career in public life.

He entered politics as a Democrat in Philadelphia in the early 1960s, when he was an assistant district attorney who sent six Teamsters officials to jail for union corruption.

After working on the Warren Commission, he returned to Philadelphia and challenged his boss, James Crumlish, for district attorney in 1965. Specter ran as a Republican and was derided by Crumlish as “Benedict Arlen.” But Crumlish lost to his protege by 36,000 votes.

It was to be the last time until 1980 that Specter would win an election to higher office, despite three attempts – a 1967 bid for Philadelphia mayor, a 1976 loss to John Heinz for Senate and a 1978 defeat by Dick Thornburgh for governor.

Specter lost re-election as district attorney in 1973 and went into private practice. Among his most notorious clients as a private attorney was Ira Einhorn, a Philadelphia counterculture celebrity who killed his girlfriend in 1977.

Finally, in 1980, Specter won the Senate seat vacated by retiring Republican Richard Schweiker, defeating former Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty.

After leaving the Senate in January 2011, the University of Pennsylvania Law School announced Specter would teach a course about Congress’ relationship with the Supreme Court, and Maryland Public Television launched a political-affairs show hosted by the former senator.

A funeral was scheduled for Tuesday in Penn Valley, Pa., and will be open to the public, followed by burial in Huntingdon Valley, Pa.

He is survived by his wife, Joan, and two sons, Shanin and Steve, and four granddaughters.

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Longtime GOP Senate moderate Arlen Specter dies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Arlen Specter, a gruff, independent-minded moderate who spent three decades in the U.S. Senate but was spurned by Pennsylvania voters after switching in 2009 from Republican to Democrat, died on Sunday of cancer, his family said. He was 82.

Specter had announced in August a recurrence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic system. His son Shanin Specter confirmed his death.

Resilient, smart and aggressive, the former prosecutor frequently riled conservatives and liberals on his way to becoming Pennsylvania's longest-serving U.S. senator. He was elected to five six-year terms starting in 1980. He left the Republican Party because he said it had become too conservative.

Specter steered a moderate course during an era when the two major U.S. political parties became increasingly polarized, and often broke with his party. His sometimes testy demeanor and opportunistic maneuvering earned him monikers like "Snarlin' Arlen" and "Specter the Defector."

In 2009, Specter left the Republican Party after 44 years when he concluded he could not win his party's primary in Pennsylvania in 2010 against a conservative challenger. But his bid for re-election in 2010 ended in failure when he was beaten by a liberal challenger for the Democratic nomination.

After President John Kennedy's assassination in 1963, Specter served on the Warren Commission that investigated the shooting, and he helped devise the disputed "single-bullet" theory" that supported the idea of a lone gunman.

During his lengthy Senate career, Specter was crucial in increasing U.S. spending on biomedical research.

He helped get one conservative, Clarence Thomas, confirmed as a Supreme Court justice in 1991, while torpedoing the Supreme Court nomination of another conservative, Robert Bork, in 1987. He infuriated liberals during the Thomas confirmation hearings with prosecutorial questioning of Anita Hill, a law professor who had accused Thomas of sexual harassment. At one point, Specter accused her of "flat-out perjury."

Specter annoyed fellow Republicans by voting "not proven" on impeachment charges against President Bill Clinton in 1999, helping prevent the Democrat from being ousted from office over his affair with a White House intern.

Specter unsuccessfully sought the 1996 Republican presidential nomination. He had several health scares, undergoing open-heart surgery and surgery for a brain tumor, as well as chemotherapy for two bouts of Hodgkin's lymphoma.

In February 2009, a month after Democratic President Barack Obama took office, he became one of three Republican senators to vote for Obama's economic stimulus bill that Specter said was needed to avert a depression like that of the 1930s.

Specter was reviled by some conservatives for giving Obama an important early political victory. In April 2009, Specter at age 79 abandoned the Republicans - saying his party had moved too far to the right - and was welcomed by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as a Democrat.

Incumbent senators rarely face stiff challenges for their party's nomination for re-election, but Specter barely survived conservative Pat Toomey's challenge in 2004. Pennsylvania Republican primary voters are more conservative than the state's overall electorate, and Specter calculated that he could not win the Republican primary in 2010.

"I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate - not prepared to have that record decided by that jury," Specter said in April 2009 in explaining his defection.

In the 2010 Democratic primary, Specter had the support of the Democratic establishment, including Obama, Pennsylvania's governor and labor unions. But liberal challenger Joe Sestak, a retired Navy admiral and two-term congressman, painted Specter as a political contortionist concerned only about himself.

A Sestak TV ad featured a clip of Specter telling a news interviewer: "My change in party will enable me to be re-elected." Sestak thumped Specter in a May 2010 primary.

"He has been a serious and consequential senator for three decades, yet mostly ungenerous words come to mind: driven, tenacious, arrogant, self-righteous, opportunistic," Congress expert Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution think tank told the New York Times after Specter's defeat.

Specter was born in Kansas in 1930 during the Great Depression. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant who owned a junkyard. Specter moved to Philadelphia at age 17 to attend the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1951, then served in the Air Force before attending Yale Law School.

He was a Democrat until age 35, when the Republicans offered their nomination for district attorney of Philadelphia. He served as the city's district attorney from 1966 to 1974.


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  1. Arlen Specter

    Arlen Specter (February 12, 1930 - October 14, 2012) was an American lawyer, author and politician who served as a United States Senator Pennsylvania from 1981 to 2011. Specter was a from 1951 to 1965, [1] [2] [3] from 1965 until 2009, when he back to the Democratic Party.

  2. Specter faces fury: 'You work for us!'

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  3. Senator Goes Face to Face With Dissent

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  4. Specter Town Hall Crowd Gets Rough And Rowdy (VIDEO)

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  5. Raw Video: Sen. Specter faces angry town hall

    Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter faced a barrage of sometimes hostile questions about health care from wary and frustrated voters at a town meeting Tuesday. (Aug. 11) Show more...

  6. Lemon (N.E.R.D. and Rihanna song)

    Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Arlen Specter is sampled in the song as the man saying "wait a minute." [6]

  7. Song on Ariana Grande's new album samples clip of man shouting at Sen

    Oh, and angry screams and Specter yelling, "Wait a minute!" during the same town hall meeting were sampled for "Lemon" from Pharrell Williams' N.E.R.D and Rihanna back in November 2017. Well,...

  8. Senator Specter Health Care Town Hall Meeting

    Senator Arlen Specter held a town hall meeting in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, on health care to discuss the various options being discussed by Congress. ... User Clip: Wait a minute. 10 seconds; 195 ...

  9. Arlen Specter

    Arlen Specter died on October 14, 2012 at 82 due to complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. One Last Thing… Smerconish says representatives in Congress could learn something from the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Lawyer. District attorney. Mayoral, gubernatorial and presidential candidate. Five-term U.S. senator.

  10. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania's Longest Serving US Senator, Dead at 82

    PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- US Senator Arlen Specter, whose political career took him from Philadelphia City Hall to the US Congress, died Sunday morning at his home in Philadelphia at the age of 82...

  11. Arlen Specter booed at town hall meeting

    Republican-turned-Democratic Senator Arlen Specter found little support for health-care reform just east of Harrisburg Tuesday as he took questions from a hostile crowd.

  12. The Rutherford Institute :: Do Enemy Combatants Have Any Rights?

    by John W. Whitehead February 22, 2007 Gonzales: "There is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There's a prohibition against taking it away." Specter: "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in cases of rebellion or invasion.

  13. Arlen Specter on JFK's Death: 'Overwhelming Evidence Oswald Was the

    A 1966 U.S. News & World Report interview with Arlen Specter, assistant counsel for the Warren Commission. Nov. 14, 2013, at 12:45 p.m. 'Overwhelming Evidence Oswald Was Assassin'. AP.

  14. Specter Wait a Minute mp3

    About Press Copyright Contact us Creators Advertise Developers Terms Privacy Policy & Safety How YouTube works Test new features NFL Sunday Ticket Press Copyright ...

  15. Arlen Specter: A retrospective

    Former United States Senator Arlen Specter, for many years one of the nation's most passionate and effective advocates for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), died at home in Philadelphia of a fulminant B-cell lymphoma on October 14, 2012, at age 82. ... When I ignored the red light denoting the rarely honored 5-minute mark, Chairman ...

  16. An Oral History of Arlen Specter

    II. The D.A. Years: "It Was Hard to Like Arlen". After his work on the Warren Commission, Specter returned to Philadelphia to spearhead a state investigation of the magistrate system. In 1965 ...

  17. Eruptions at Sen. Specter's Town-Hall Meeting

    LEBANON, Pa. — Senator Arlen Specter and his staff tried mightily to control a town hall meeting this morning but he was repeatedly booed and heckled by a majority of the 250 people inside a large hall here at the Harrisburg Area Community College. At least 700 more were kept outside, police said. Inside, fury erupted over a range of topics, from health care to immigration, government ...

  18. Arlen Specter

    Arlen Specter (born February 12, 1930, Wichita, Kansas, U.S.—died October 14, 2012, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) American lawyer and politician who was a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania (1981-2011). Originally a Democrat, he became a Republican in the 1960s before switching back to the Democratic Party in 2009.. Specter, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, was raised in Russell, Kansas.

  19. Arlen Specter

    Former Sen. Arlen Specter, who embodied a dying breed of liberal Republicanism before switching to the Democratic Party, has died at 82. ... 7 minute read Updated 7:04 AM EDT, Mon October 15, 2012 ...

  20. Lemon by N.E.R.D (featuring Rihanna)

    The interlude features samples of the former United States Senator, Arlen Specter, shouting "wait a minute" at a 2009 Pennsylvania town hall meeting, as well as phrases borrowed from the 2015 viral Twitter video recorded by rap artist Retch.

  21. Former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter Dies At 82

    Specter would go on to lose a few rounds in political campaigns; but in 1980, he won election to the U.S. Senate and would go on to win reelection four times - serving 30 years, a Pennsylvania record.

  22. Arlen Specter, 82, dead: Cancer kills former Pennsylvania senator

    Former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, the outspoken Pennsylvania centrist who switched from Republican to Democrat, died Sunday. He was 82. ... Published Oct 14, 2012 • 6 minute read.

  23. Longtime GOP Senate moderate Arlen Specter dies

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Arlen Specter, a gruff, independent-minded moderate who spent three decades in the U.S. Senate but was spurned by Pennsylvania voters after switching in 2009 from Republican ...