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Utah politicians on Sunday paid tribute to former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, who died in Pennsylvania from cancer at the age of 82.

Former Sen. Bob Bennett, a Republican who served with Specter for 18 years in the Senate and traveled with him on several occasions on official excursions, said Specter will be remembered for his independent streak he brought to the upper chamber.

"I cling to the good times and the good fellowship and the good friendship" about Specter, Bennett said Sunday, noting that he was unhappy with his former colleague's politically motivated switch to the Democratic Party in 2009.

"Arlen up and until the time when he did decide to switch parties, for purely political reasons, we always knew, whether we disagreed with him or not, Arlen was always acting on the thought of what he thought was the best principle."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also offered condolences on Specter's passing.

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my longtime friend and colleague, Arlen Specter," Hatch said in a prepared statement. "A spirited man, Arlen represented Pennsylvania values in the U.S. Senate with great integrity and conviction. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Specter family during this difficult time."

Added Republican Sen. Mike Lee: "I am saddened to hear of the loss of Senator Arlen Specter. Sharon and I will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time."

Thomas Burr

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