The Republican leadership foolishly "coddled" Arlen Specter during his tenure in the GOP, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) said yesterday.

Tolerating Specter's moderate stances was a sign of the party's troubles, the Kentucky Republican added.

"I am disappointed, but not surprised, by Senator Specter's self-serving decision to switch parties at a time when his vote is so important to maintaining some balance of power here in Washington," Bunning told reporters. "The Senate Republican leadership's coddling of Senator Specter shows just how far the Republican Party has lost its way."

Bunning's comments might be seen as a shot at his fellow Kentuckian Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader. Bunning has previously blamed McConnell for his inability to fundraise, saying the Minority Leader should be more supportive of his re-election bid.

Bunning added that he hopes to see Specter defeated in 2010.

"Senator Specter has never been a reliable voice for the conservative values that Republicans like myself have spent our lives fighting for, and I look forward to seeing him defeated in 2010," he said.