Asked whether he believed that he had let people down by changing parties, Specter said issues like Republican attitudes towards cancer research had made him unhappy with the party. Specter went on to suggest that if Republicans had been more aggressive about cancer research, GOP luminary Jack Kemp would be alive today. The former GOP Congressman and vice-presidential nominee died over the weekend, at age 73, from cancer.
Watch Specter talk about Kemp in the interview below and read a partial transcript underneath. The question begins about seven minutes and thirty-five seconds into the interview:
Specter: Jack Kemp's Death May Have Been Caused By GOP Priorities (VIDEO)
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me talk to you about a little politics here, while we're--while we're at it. I want to ask you about the Republican Party. But let me also ask you this. A lot of people, I would assume, voted for you in your last Senate race because you were a Republican. Do you feel in any way that you let them down or that you had some obligation to them to switch now? It's one thing to say, you know, you've come up to the election and say I want to announce I'm going to run as a Republican, I mean, run as a Democrat the next time out, but to just switch parties in midstream, does that--does that bother you, Senator?
SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER: Well, I was sorry to disappoint many people. Frankly, I was disappointed that the Republican Party didn't want me as their candidate. But as a matter of principle, I'm becoming much more comfortable with the Democrats' approach.
And one of the items that I'm working on, Bob, is funding for medical research. I've been the spear carrier to increase medical research. And I've even established a Web site, Specterforthecure.com, to try to get people to put more pressure on Congress to join me in getting more funding. This medical research has been a reawakening--the ten billion dollars. We were about to lose a whole generation of scientists. And now they're enthused. There are fifteen thousand applications to be granted. If we had pursued what President Nixon declared in 1970 as the war on cancer, we would have cured many strains. I think Jack Kemp would be alive today. And that research has saved or prolonged many lives, including mine.
Now, as the New York Times pointed out in a column today, when you talk about life and death and medical research, that's a much more major consideration on what I can do, continuing in the Senate, contrasted with which party I belong to.