Senator Specter visits Hershey Med

specter_microphoneWhen Senator Arlen Specter decided to visit Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center on Monday, May 4, he chose the location for a reason.

The Lebanon Daily News reports that by switching from the Republican party to the Democratic party, which prioritizes health care reformation, Specter has improved his position for re-election to a senior position on the appropriations committee:

“The Republican Party has moved so far to the right that the prospects were bleak for re-election. The Democrats welcomed me with open arms and provided me with the opportunity for me to continue this work on medical research,” Specter told the crowd.

Specter wanted to bolster support among med school students and researchers, like those in the audience on Monday, who depend on his involvement in the committee:

Harold Paz, CEO of the medical center, said Specter was influential in directing $10 billion in stimulus money to the National Institutes of Health. Hershey researchers have already submitted more than 150 applications for grants from that stimulus program, “with many, many more to come,” he said.

According to, the senator confirmed the link between his party switch and his ambitions:

“Specter was critical of the funding given to medical research under Republicans. “If we waged a war against cancer with the same intensity of other wars, Jack Kemp would be alive today,” he said, referring to the former GOP Congressman and vice presidential nominee who died over the weekend of cancer….

He told the audience of about 250 that the best way to ensure continued funding “‘is to help me become chair of the appropriations committee.'”

Although Senator Specter has generously gifted Hershey Med about $450 million in grants as well as about “$5 million in federal earmarks for equipment over the past five years,” was Specter a bit insensitive and opportunistic by using a former party member’s death to promote his campaign?

[Photo courtesy of]

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