Specter: Reagan's GOP is gone
On Sunday talk shows, he says the 'big tent' party of Reagan and the late Jack Kemp has been replaced by rigid conservatism.
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The question of whether the party can stage a revival without welcoming Northeastern moderates came to the fore on television talk shows Sunday morning.
Appearing later on the same show, some Republican figures essentially agreed with that assessment, even while they did not endorse all of Specter's remarks.
Joe Scarborough, a conservative commentator and former Republican congressman from Florida, said the party needs to take a page from Democrats, who have become more competitive in some hard-to-win districts by recruiting candidates who don’t toe the party line on issues such as gun control or abortion.
Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, threw some weight behind this view, commenting that the most important vote that a lawmaker in Congress makes is the one that determines which party sets the agenda in the House or Senate.
The Republicans did not distance themselves from conservatism. But the fallout from the loss of Specter suggests that the lack of moderate lawmakers in the Republican Party will be under scrutiny as a potential part of the GOP's comeback agenda.
In an effort to cast the GOP as a more inclusive party, three prominent Republicans – House minority whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, and former Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts – held a forum in suburban Virginia Saturday that they dubbed part of a "listening tour." It was the first event held by the newly formed National Council for a New America.