Specter campaigns with President George W. Bush in 2004 at the Harrisburg International Airport in Pennsylvania. Specter spent most of his political career as a moderate Republican. He supported Bush, but later criticized the then-president's warrantless wiretapping program, saying it overstepped civil liberties.
Credit Luke Frazza / AFP/Getty Images
Specter speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in July 2005. Five months earlier, he announced that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system. He worked during chemotherapy, and on July 22, 2005, ended his treatment. Three years later, his cancer returned and he underwent chemotherapy again.
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Specter and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, board an elevator after a February 2009 meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to find a bipartisan compromise on the stimulus package. Specter and Collins were two of three Republicans who voted for the plan. Collins, like Specter, was considered to be one of a dwindling number of moderate Republicans.
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Specter shakes hands with Philadelphia voters on primary day in 2010. He lost the Democratic primary to Joe Sestak, ending the veteran senator's political career. Conservative Republican Pat Toomey defeated Sestak in the general election.
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Senate Judiciary Committee member Arlen Specter, R-Pa., questions witnesses defending law professor Anita Hill at the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas on Oct. 13, 1991. Hill had alleged that Thomas sexually harassed her in the 1980s.
Credit John Duricka / AP
Specter discusses his new book and the presidential campaign during an interview in Washington, D.C., on March 21, 2011.
Credit J.M. Eddins, Jr. / The Washington Times/Landov
Sen. Arlen Specter, a member of the Senate Government Affairs Committee investigating campaign fundraising abuses, questions a witness during hearings on Capitol Hill on July 9, 1997.
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President Obama greets Sen. Arlen Specter at a reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month. After 44 years as a Republican, Specter switched parties in 2009.
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President George W. Bush and Specter arrive at Harrisburg International Airport in Pennsylvania on April 19, 2004.
Former Sen. Arlen Specter, one of the most influential senators of the last half-century, died Sunday from complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was 82.
The five-term senator, a moderate Republican-turned-Democrat, was a key member of the Judiciary Committee and a major player in the confirmation proceedings of 14 Supreme Court nominees. But he was consistently a thorn for leaders of both political parties and their presidents.
These days, we're more likely to see professional athletes on products than protest lines. But it wasn't always this way. In the 1960s, sports stars were often as famous for what they believed as for their home runs.
Back then, many athletes spoke out about civil rights. Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title and threatened with imprisonment for refusing to fight in Vietnam, on the grounds of racial discrimination.
This is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee, in for Guy Raz.
(SOUNDBITE OF CLOCK TICKING)
HEADLEE: You know what that means. It's time for Three-Minute Fiction, our contest where listeners come up with original stories in under 600 words. The challenge this round was to write a story that revolves around a U.S. president - fictional or real. Our judge, the writer Brad Meltzer, will be deciding the winner in just a few weeks. Until then, here's an excerpt from one standout story.
Gen. John D. Lavelle was accused of authorizing illegal bombing raids in North Vietnam. Stripped of two stars, he was forced into retirement in 1972.
Even though Lavelle was officially retired in disgrace as a two-star general, his widow ordered a gravestone displaying four. No one has ever protested.
Credit Paul Hays
President Nixon meets with Ellsworth Bunker, U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam, and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger at the White House on June 16, 1971. Lavelle would be mentioned in their recorded conversations a year later.
Gen. John D. Lavelle commanded the Seventh Air Force during the Vietnam War. He served five steps down the chain of command from President Nixon. In his oral history — recorded by an Air Force history officer in 1978 — he explained how, six years earlier, his life changed forever.
It started with a meeting with a Thai general, Dawee Chullasapya, who had charged Lavelle with overseeing an operation to destroy anti-aircraft guns in North Vietnam. It was a mission necessary to keep Thailand in the war.
The race for the Republican nomination of 1860 was one of the great political contests of American history. It was Abraham Lincoln versus Salmon Chase, versus William Seward.
Author Walter Stahr spoke with Weekends All Things Considered host Guy Raz about his new biography, Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man. He describes how a man who was Lincoln's fiercest and most critical opponent eventually became his most loyal and trusted adviser.
It's hardly surprising that Thursday night's vice presidential debate in Danville, Ky., would feature a spirited debate about Medicare. GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is the author of a controversial Medicare proposal that Democrats have been campaigning against for more than a year now.
But fact checkers have raised some flags about some of the claims the candidates made.
More than a year after winning Iowa's Straw Poll for the GOP presidential nomination, and more than nine months after dropping out of that race, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is back on the campaign trail.
This time she's after a fourth term representing Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, and Bachmann's campaign is running into stiff competition.
Staff and visitors walk past the lobby at the Huawei office in Wuhan, China. Beijing has urged Washington to "set aside prejudices" after a draft congressional report said Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE were security threats that should be banned from business in the U.S.
Over the past decade, Chinese companies have become major players in the global telecommunications market. This week the House Intelligence Committee issued a report that could interrupt that growth. The committee warned American companies not to do business with two of China's main telecom manufacturers, saying they posed a security threat.
Huawei Technologies is the miracle story of the Chinese high-tech industry, says telecommunications consultant Roger Entner.