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Reaction to death of ex-Sen. Arlen Specter of Pa.

Updated at: 10/15/2012 2:05 AM
By The Associated Press

Reaction to the death of former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who died Sunday:

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"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.

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"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.

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"Arlen Specter was a great senator who lived his life the way he died, with dignity and courage. He was my friend and I admired him a great deal. For over three decades, I watched his political courage accomplish great feats and was awed by his physical courage to never give up. Arlen never walked away from his principles and was at his best when they were challenged." _ Vice President Joe Biden.

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"Arlen Specter loved our country and served it with integrity for three decades in the United States Senate. Laura and I appreciate his contributions to America and are grateful for his many years of public service." _ Former President George W. Bush.

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"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.

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"Serving with Senator Specter for more than a decade, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he was a fighter, and his commitment to public service was admirable." _ Former Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.

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"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.

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"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.

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"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.

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"Today, Saundy and I join Pennsylvanians in mourning the loss of a dedicated public servant. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sen. Specter’s family and friends at this difficult time." _ Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Tom Smith, who is challenging Casey.

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"Over Arlen’s remarkable career spanning three decades in the Senate, time and again he reached across the aisle to build consensus on vital legislation to advance his beloved Pennsylvania and the nation. ... Arlen was driven by a common-sense pragmatism that advocated for a revitalization and advancement of the political center." _ U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

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"Sen. Specter was a man of moderation; he was always passionate, but always easy to work with. I followed him through his previous illnesses, during the course of which he displayed great physical strength and great strength of character. Throughout his life, Sen. Specter fought and won many battles, but this was one he could not win. America is better today because of Arlen Specter." _ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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"A legendary figure in his beloved Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter brought his fierce intellect and a prosecutor’s drive to countless battles in the Senate. He was a fighter to the end." _ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

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"Arlen Specter was a dedicated public servant and tireless advocate for Pennsylvania. He was always willing to work with every member of the Pennsylvania delegation to address the needs of the communities we serve and the people we are privileged to represent." _ U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa.

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"For thirty years, he served the people of Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate well, often working across the aisle to get things done. He was a moderate who put the needs of his constituents and country before politics _ something seen all too rarely now." _ U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)