Toomey: ‘Very Likely’ to Challenge Specter

By Lindsey Ellerson

Mar 26, 2009 3:50pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl report: Former congressman Pat Toomey said today that he’s “very likely” to mount another bid to defeat Sen. Arlen Specter next year in the Republican primary in Pennsylvania, and said that he doesn’t believe Specter’s newfound opposition to the union-backed “card-check” bill is “reliable.”

Appearing on ABC News NOW’s “Politics Live,” Toomey, a former House member who now heads the fiscal conservative group Club for Growth, told us: “It’s very likely that I will get into this Senate race very soon.  I’ll leave it at that for now.”

On card-check, Toomey pointed out that — despite Specter’s vow this week to join a Republican filibuster of the bill — the senator left himself the out of supporting the union-backed legislation in the future.

“Well, let’s see. Sen. Specter was several years ago a co-sponsor of this legislation,” Toomey said. “Last year on the Senate floor he was the only Republican to join all the Democrats to vote to pursue this legislation. Then all of a sudden he sees he’s got very likely a very serious primary challenge, and he decides he’s opposed to this legislation. But even in his comments . . . he says if the economy improves then he might support this after all, denying workers a secret ballot.

“So, you know, I’m glad that Sen. Specter is at the right place on this bill at the moment, but I wouldn’t consider that very reliable,” Toomey said.

Toomey said he’s not concerned that Senate GOP leaders would back Specter in a primary, as they did when he challenged Specter for Senate in 2004.

“That’s a club, and that’s what that club does,” Toomey said. “The more important thing is what are the voters and what are the citizens of Pennsylvania think, and I think — and I know this from talking to dozens and scores and hundreds of people — there’s a huge worry about all the bailouts, the massive spending, the stimulus spending, the liabilities that this government has taken on in such a short period of time.”

“It’s just frightening. Sen. Specter, of course, has made this possible by helping to defeat the Republican filibuster, and voters of all stripes are really worried about the amount of debt and the deficits and just out of control spending. So I think somebody who’s got a message of fiscal discipline and some common-sense restraints on the size of government, I think that’s gonna really resonate.”

Toomey also showed no indication that he’d change his longstanding support for private accounts to be included in the Social Security program, despite recent gyrations in the stock market.

“Someone who gets a chance to save a little bit of money and invest a little bit regularly over and entire working life is gonna accumulate some real savings,” he said. “More importantly, the design of this plan always contemplated that as a person gets closer to retirement age, their investments would shift away from stocks and towards less volatile instruments like CDs and bank savings and Treasury Bonds. That kind of mixture insulates a person very, very well and someone who was doing that over the course of recent years would be fine today.”

Don’t miss our new daily political show, “Top Line,” hosted by Rick Klein and David Chalian, starting Monday, March 30. The show will stream live at ABCNews.com.

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