First Draft: Specter gives Obama anniversary gift
As he marks his 100th day in office, President Barack Obama has a new reason to celebrate — the defection of a senior Republican to his Democratic party.
Calling Arlen Specter “one tough hombre”, Obama appeared at the White House with the long-time moderate Republican and welcomed him as the “newest Democrat from the state of Pennsylvania.”
“I know that the decision that Senator Specter made yesterday wasn’t easy. It required long and careful consideration and it required courage,” Obama said.
Specter’s switch put Senate Democrats within grasp of being able to pass Obama’s ambitious agenda, including expanding health care and moving the nation toward energy independence, without any Republican votes.
Specter gave Democrats 59 seats in the 100-member Senate, one short of the 60 needed to clear Republican procedural roadblocks.
Obama didn’t mention that but he did take the opportunity to note that Specter’s decision reflects regognition that the administration is open to different points of views.
“We seek cooperation and common ground and …in these 100 days we’ve begun to move this nation in the right direction. ”
After his appearance Obama headed to Missouri for a town-hall style meeting — the kind he excelled at during his presidential campaign. Then he comes back to Washington for a prime-time news conference.
Obama also took a few minutes to talk about the swine flu outbreak, after a baby in Texas became the first confirmed death outside Mexico from the virus.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testify on Capitol Hill about swine flu and the government response.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (Obama and Vice President Joe Biden laugh as they welcome Specter to the Democratic party)