As word of the death of former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter spread Sunday, a number of his former colleagues and other political officials praised the man's life both in and out of politics.

Some said they'll remember Specter as a moderate who stood by his convictions. Others praised his service to Pennsylvania.

"While others may have said or voted as was politically expedient, he was well-known for remaining true to his convictions," said state Rep. Will Tallman, R-Reading Township.

State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York, said Specter was a "fighter" who was willing to compromise in order to get the nation's business accomplished.

"He was someone you probably didn't always get along with," DePasquale said. "There's a lot of concern that where aren't many moderates left."

State Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland and York counties, said she was always impressed with Specter's willingness to fight for not only his political beliefs but also for his life.

"He's always been such a fighter," she said. "He was a ferocious guy who fought against cancer."

Vance said she admired Specter's fight to increase funding to the National Institutes of Health, which saw its budget doubled under the Clinton administration.

"He earned the respect of people," Vance said. "He really was an institution."

Here's what others had to say about Specter:

* "Senator Specter dedicated his life to public service, and we are forever grateful for all that he gave to this state and the nation.


Advertisement

He was an icon of Pennsylvania politics who shall be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Specter family." - York County Democratic Party chair Bob Kefauver.

* "He was a prominent politician regardless of your viewpoint on the political side of things. He had an awful lot of battles in his life and specifically with cancer and leukemia and so forth, it's really a shame that he did pass away. I'm sure that he'll be sorely missed by all of his fans. He was a fighter for Pennsylvania, regardless of what you think of where he stands politically. He believed in what he believed in and he fought tooth and nail to get his agenda pushed." - Bob Wilson, chairman of the Republican Committee of York County.

* "A man of sharp intelligence and dogged determination, Sen. Specter dedicated his life to public service and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. His impact on our state and public policy will not be forgotten." - U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who succeeded Specter.

* "He was a mentor, colleague and a political institution, and on a personal level, he was my first boss. Sen. Specter did more for the people of Pennsylvania over his more than 30-year career with the possible exception of Benjamin Franklin. He was a champion for veterans across our state and beyond, and will be deeply missed." - Former Gov. Ed Rendell, who served as an assistant prosecutor when Specter was Philadelphia's district attorney.

* "Arlen was a statesman and a problem solver who was able to work with Democrats and Republicans in the best interest of our Commonwealth and our Country. Arlen fought cancer courageously, and his enduring legacy of support for the National Institutes of Health will help countless Americans as they battle cancer and other ailments." - U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.

* "Sen. Arlen Specter was a true Pennsylvania institution whose record of fighting for our Commonwealth is unmatched. Senator Specter's contributions to Pennsylvania and the United States will leave a lasting legacy." - Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn.

* "The Republican Party of Pennsylvania extends its deepest sympathies to the friends and family members of former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. Senator Specter will always be remembered for his many years of dedicated public service." - Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason.

* "For more than five decades, Arlen Specter lived a life devoted to public service on behalf of the people of Pennsylvania and the United States. Pennsylvania has lost a political figure whose career stretched from Philadelphia's City Hall to the chambers of the U.S. Senate. We are saddened to hear of his death." - Gov. Tom Corbett.

* "He generated a lot of support and a lot of dissent, but he was unafraid to be held accountable. ... At the end of the day, he was one relentless, unapologetic fighter. Republicans and Democrats may not like how he voted, but they certainly had to respect his mindset." - Former Gov. Tom Ridge.

* "Arlen Specter was always a fighter. From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent - never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve. He brought that same toughness and determination to his personal struggles, using his own story to inspire others." - President Barack Obama.

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com. Staff writer Chelsea Shank and the Associated Press contributed to this report.