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Specter's Democratic opponent drops in on Franklin County

August 23, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter says the four-term incumbent Republican "has lost his voice and lost his vision for Pennsylvania."

Joe Hoeffel, a three-term U.S. representative from Montgomery County, Pa., stopped in Chambersburg Sunday evening to meet with about two dozen supporters outside the Franklin County Democratic Committee Headquarters. Hoeffel criticized Specter for his support for President Bush, while linking himself to the presidential candidacy of John Kerry.

The candidate said he had been in 54 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties in the past nine days as part of his "Change is Gonna Come" campaign tour.

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"There's an anger in Pennsylvania that we've been misled by the Republican leadership" in Washington, Hoeffel said. Specter has voted overwhelmingly in favor of Bush's policies, to the detriment of the nation and Pennsylvania, he said.

"They've turned surpluses into the deficits. They've bankrupted the treasury ... all because they prefer tax cuts for millionaires" and tax policies that encourage corporations to export jobs, Hoeffel said of the Bush administration.

"The list of moral commitments the Bush-Cheney administration is breaking goes on and on," said Hoeffel, who criticized the administration's foreign and domestic policies. He accused the Bush administration of "arrogance" and "cowboy diplomacy" in the war on terror.

Hoeffel said he voted to give Bush authorization to go to war against Iraq, but said the nation was "badly misled about the weapons of mass destruction" Saddam Hussein was supposed to have stockpiled.

The war should be internationalized with more participation by NATO and Arab countries, he said, and reconstruction of the country should be turned over to the United Nations.

"We know what the Republicans are going to do ... They're going to try and divide us," using social issues such as gay marriage to split voters, he said. On the issue of abortion, Hoeffel said, "I don't consider myself an advocate of abortion. I consider myself an advocate of a woman's right to choose."

"This is the first time I've seen him and I was very impressed," said Al Knoll of Chambersburg, who described himself as "a registered liberal."

Retired from the military and teaching, Knoll said he opposes "the rather arrogant foreign policy that we'll do what we want." He said the United States should have "universal health care, like every other civilized country."

"In all honesty, I haven't made up my mind," Sam King of Chambersburg said of the Senate race. At the same time, he said he sees a need for change on the national level.

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