'This Week' in History: Specter's Switch

The 'This Week' Roundtable Discusses Arlen Specter Becoming a Democrat

May 23, 2010, 8:29 AM

May 23, 2010— -- On April 28, 2009, long-time Senator Arlen Specter announced he was switching parties after over 44 years as an elected Republican – a seemingly calculated move to align himself with the Pennsylvania public and prolong his political career. On Tuesday, however, for Specter's first election as a Democrat, voters proved unreceptive to the converted Senator by electing Specter's rival, Rep. Joe Sestak, as the Democratic senatorial candidate for 2010.

The Sunday after Specter's switch, the "This Week" roundtable discussed the announcement and its implication for the Republican Party.

"He's admitting he can't win," said PBS's Gwen Ifill. "It also raises the question of whether it's more important that he be reelected than that the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, however it's composed, be represented."

In April 2009, an ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that 21% of the public identified themselves as Republican, the lowest figure in over 25 years.

"The moderates got driven out of the party, lost, and what's left is a more conservative party which is getting further and further away from the mainstream," ABC News contributor and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman argued.

Watch the roundtable discuss Arlen Specter and the future of the Republican Party from May 3, 2009. And be sure to tune in on Sunday, as Chairman Tim Kaine of the DNC and Chairman Michael Steele of the RNC react to the results of Tuesday's primaries.

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