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Arlen Specter denies Rick Santorum endorsement claim made in GOP debate

Specter, the former Democratic senator from Pennsylvania, denies making a deal to support conservative judicial nominees in exchange for Santorum's endorsement in 2004.

Santorum-Specter-Debate 2012 02-23Enlarge
GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum speaks during an address to the 39th Conservative Political Action Committee in January in Washington, D.C. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Refuting statements from last night's GOP debate, former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter scoffed at presidential candidate Rick Santorum's claim that he only endorsed Specter in 2004 after Specter promised to GOP judicial nominees.

The resulting confirmations of Samuel Alito and John Roberts vindicated him, Santorum said during the debate in Arizona.

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"I said will you support the president's nominees? We had a 51-to-49 majority in the Senate. He said, 'I'll support the president's nominees as chairman,'" Santorum said as reported by the Washington Post.

Specter disputed that claim on The Michael Smerconish Program this morning.

"He is not correct. I made no commitment to him about supporting judges," Specter told the radio show. "I made no deal."

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Specter also downplayed the value of Santorum's endorsement in helpnig him turn aside the primary challenge by then-Rep. Pat Toomey.

"Senator Santorum supported my candidacy in that primary pretty much as we had supported each other over the years," he told the radio show. "We have very different political ideologies but we worked very closely together in the interest of Pennsylvania. His support was helpful but hardly determinative, hardly that important."

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Specter noted his campaign ads featured then President George Bush's endorsement, which he called "a lot more important."

Santorum's endorsement of Specter, a Republican turned Democrat in 2009, has dogged him for nearly eight years now, as conservative activists frequently grill him on it at public events, the Washington Post reported.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120223/rick-santorum-endorsement-claim-denied-arlen-spe