The GOP moderates

THE GOP MODERATES…. The Politico has an item this afternoon with a headline that reads, “Moderates blame conservatives.” It’s about centrist Republicans who are most unhappy about colleagues like Arlen Specter no longer feeling welcome in the party.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) … slammed right-wing interest groups for pushing moderates out of the party.

Specter switched parties Tuesday after a recent poll showed him badly losing a Pennsylvania Republican primary next year to Club for Growth founder Pat Toomey. Toomey’s staunchly fiscally conservative political action committee backs only those Republicans who support a low-tax, limited-government agenda and comes down hard on those who break with party orthodoxy.

“I don’t want to be a member of the Club for Growth,” said Graham. “I want to be a member of a vibrant national Republican party that can attract people from all corners of the country — and we can govern the country from a center-right perspective.”

“As Republicans, we got a problem,” he said.

That’s probably true, but isn’t the fact that Lindsay Graham considers himself a GOP moderate part of the problem?

For what it’s worth, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), an actual moderate by Republican standards, said her party just doesn’t offer support to GOP lawmakers who fail to toe the conservative line. Republicans, Snowe said, tell moderates, “Either you are with us or against us.”

Any chance Snowe might follow Specter across the aisle? I doubt it, but Snowe told CNN she’s been approached about a party switch. “I’ve been asked, but not recently,” she said. Expect Reid & Co. to connect with the Maine Republican fairly soon.

If I had to bet, I’d say we won’t see any more party switchers for a while. The only two credible possibilities — Maine’s Snowe and Collins — both know they can win re-election without jumping ship, a luxury Specter didn’t enjoy.

That said, it’s just one more angle to keep an eye on.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.