'This Week' Transcript: Kaine and Steele

DONALDSON: Why -- why didn't Specter do what Ronald Reagan did in reverse? Why didn't Specter say, "I didn't leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me"?

ROBERTS: He did.

DONALDSON: I mean -- no, he didn't.

ROBERTS: He did at one point.

DONALDSON: He said re-election. He didn't. Excuse me. You saw the tape. Can we play the tape again for Cokie?

ROBERTS: He did both. He said both.

DONALDSON: All right. Let me just -- let me just continue then, if I may. Thank you. What's the name of that town you're from, New Orleans? OK. But, again, I think Specter did it to himself. I pick up the paper the next day, and the New York Times headline -- I may not have it exact, but it's close -- "Voters are after incumbents." In other words, this was -- it wasn't an incumbent's failure. It was Arlen Specter's failure in Pennsylvania.

TAPPER: Do you agree with that?

DONALDSON: Now, please.


ROBERTS: Arlen Specter -- but he did say the Republican Party had become too conservative for his moderate views.

DONALDSON: But not in that clip there.

ROBERTS: Not in that clip.

DONALDSON: That was the bottom line.

ROBERTS: But he's -- look, Arlen Specter lost -- finally, when he won for the Senate the first time was because he was running against someone who had lost more than he had. I mean, he had lost more campaigns than you can possibly imagine, but finally somebody had to win out of two losers running against each other.

And he -- and he has gotten re-elected as the incumbent, but with difficulty. And -- and it was hardly surprising to have him, in a year of anti-incumbency, when it seems phony for him to switch, and he's 80 years old, for him to lose a primary. The surprising part was that the White House backed him so strenuously in the first place and then pulled back at the end...

TAPPER: Well, a lot of Democrats are actually criticizing the White House. In fact, a Virginia congressman, Gerry Connolly, was upset the president didn't do more for Specter in the closing days, and he said, "Let me get this straight. If you think I can't win, you're not going to spend political capital on me, even though I spilled buckets of blood for you? The White House can't be keeping distance from people who have walked the plank for them even when they might lose. Loyalty matters in this business."

Does the White House have a problem here?

ROBERTS: Well, loyalty does matter, but I don't know what buckets of blood Arlen Specter spilled for the White House.

DONALDSON: A word for Specter. Dana Milbank in the Post this morning, Washington Post, pointed out something that I've known for years. Arlen Specter helped put more money into National Institutes of Health, more money...

ROBERTS: That's true.

DONALDSON: ... into the fight against cancer and other dread diseases, than any other single member of Capitol Hill. So my hat's off to him. The voters don't have to vote for him, but they have to thank him for that.

ROBERTS: That's true.


TAPPER: Let's turn to another race, and that's Blumenthal. Now, Sam, you were an artillery officer in the Army in the 1950s, First Lieutenant Donaldson.

DONALDSON: Thank you.

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