Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Specter Enters Race for Gop Nomination Abortion-Rights Candidate's Bid Is Party Long-Shot

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Specter Enters Race for Gop Nomination Abortion-Rights Candidate's Bid Is Party Long-Shot

Article excerpt

Sen. Arlen Specter, a moderate from Pennsylvania who supports abortion rights, declared his candidacy Thursday for the GOP presidential nomination.

He warned fellow Republicans not to become "so captive to the demands of the intolerant right" that they end up re-electing President Bill Clinton.

Specter, 65, launched his long-shot bid in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial in the nation's capital and then repeated his declaration in the rotunda of the state Capitol in Harrisburg.

His harshest words were reserved for abortion foes and religious conservatives, not Clinton.

He pledged to "lead the fight to strip the strident anti-choice language from the Republican national platform." And he criticized religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and others who he said were bent on ripping down a constitutional barrier separating church and state and on blacklisting Republicans who supported abortion rights.

"There is no doubt that people with deep religious and moral convictions must be active in the political process," said Specter, the son of a Jewish Russian immigrant. "But it is not Christian, or religious, or Judeo-Christian to bring God into politics or to advocate intolerance."

He took issue with Clinton only briefly. Specter said the president was not tough enough in pushing North Korea to end its nuclear program or in combatting terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

"My commitment to America is to replace a president who has been inattentive, inactive and indecisive when it comes to America's vital foreign policy interests," Specter said.

As for his own ideas, Specter said his centerpiece economic proposal was to junk an income tax system riddled with loopholes for the rich and special interests in favor of a 20 percent flat tax, with deductions only for mortgage interest and charitable contributions.

And he said his 12 years working in the Philadelphia district attorney's office - as well as his longstanding support of the death penalty and tougher sentences - made him unique in the Republican field when it came to crime-fighting credentials. …

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