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Arlen Specter: ‘Spear Carrier’

Arlen Specter from Sunday’s Face the Nation:

Jack Kemp would still be alive if the federal government had done a better job funding cancer research, Sen. Arlen Specter said Sunday, one day after Kemp, the 1996 Republican vice presidential nominee, died of cancer.

The Pennsylvania senator, who last week switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, made the claim on two Sunday shows. 

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Specter suggested that one of the reasons he left the GOP was because it did not share his interest in funding medical research. 

“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,” Specter said. “And one of the items that I’m working on … is funding for medical research. I’ve been the spear carrier to increase medical research.” 

Specter added: “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.”  

Specter has been treated for Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Through his Web site, specterforthecure.com, the senator has called for more federal resources and funding to be directed toward medical research. 

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