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Specter says Pa. is pivotal in race for White House

July 28, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania could be as pivotal to the upcoming presidential contest as Florida was in 2000 and U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter said it looks as if President Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry are running neck and neck.

"It's going to be a horse race," he said. Winning the state's 21 electoral votes "depends on the quality of the campaign," Specter said after meeting Tuesday with supporters of Letterkenny Army Depot.

Specter said he will meet with Bush on Saturday during an appearance by the president in Pittsburgh. The Republican senator said it will be Bush's 31st visit to the Keystone State since he became president.

"He's determined to win it and I'm determined to help him," Specter said of Bush's push to win Pennsylvania. Bush lost Pennsylvania to Al Gore in 2000.

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"I think the president has made a good case on national security," the war on terrorism, health care and education, Specter said, although he sees the need for changes in the No Child Left Behind Act.

"Seniors were waiting for a prescription drug program for a long time and he took the lead on that," Specter said.

"Seniority is important and it comes into play when we talk about Letterkenny Army Depot," Specter told depot supporters in making a pitch for his re-election to a fifth term. "I don't just make telephone calls, I bring in the key government officials," he said.

As for this week's Democratic National Convention in Boston, Specter said it is "lively. Let them have their say." He said the GOP will have its chance to convince voters at its August convention in New York City.

"I'll be content to sit down and watch television this week," Specter said.

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