Specter and the Moderates

IT is unfortunate that Sen. Arlen Specter has suspended his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. Mr. Specter announced last week he was putting his effort on hold because he couldn't raise the money necessary to keep going.

Specter, a party moderate, was the least-conservative candidate in the Republican field. His combination of fiscal conservatism and social libertarianism, including a pro-choice stand on abortion, were probably more representative of the average Republican voter than the views of most of the other candidates. But they were anathema to cultural conservatives and the Christian Right. It's going to be hard for anyone to get the GOP nomination without some of them on board.

Specter rarely got more than 1 or 2 percent in polls. But that doesn't mean that moderates have all left the party. We suspect many of them are quite comfortable supporting the front-runner, Sen. Bob Dole, despite his appearing to shift rightward in the runup to the primaries.

Mr. Dole's joint appearances with Speaker Gingrich during the recent government shutdown and his role in getting the government back to work may only have confirmed GOP moderates in that view.

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