Tales from the Trail

Specter still finding his way as a Democrat

Old habits are hard to give up, and that seems especially true for newly-minted Democratic Senator Arlen Specter.OBAMA/

As he entered the chamber through the Republican side for a vote on an amendment to a war funding bill, he stopped at the Republican desk where aides put information about the pending measure.

Democratic Senator John Kerry, standing by the Democratic desk, called out across the chamber to Specter: “Arlen, Arlen, we’re over here!”

Specter looked up from the desk and, with a sheepish grin on his face, walked over to the Democratic side of the Senate chamber.

And even though he has made it clear that he will not always vote with his new Democratic friends, Specter did vote with them to reject a Republican amendment that would have stripped out President Barack Obama’s request to extend up to $108 billion in credit lines to the International Monetary Fund.

House Democrats block Republican call for probe of Pelosi


                                      There was polBRITAIN/itical theater, drama, but no surprise ending on Thursday on a topic involving spies, torture and truth in the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives.

Republicans again ripped into Speaker Nancy Pelosi for accusing the CIA of misleading Congress — and her fellow Democrats quickly blocked their bid for a bipartisan probe into her truthfulness. The vote was 252-172.

“The Republicans … have been focused on the politics of personal destruction,” House Democratic leader House Steny Hoyer said afterward.

Specter gains chairmanship, loses potential foe

Senator Arlen Specter, who has had some rocky times since switching from the Republican to Democratic party last week, had a really good day on Thursday.

Specter gained some power — the chairmanship of a Senate subcommittee — and lost a potential and powerful reelection foe, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge.specter

“After careful consideration and many conversations with friends and family and the leadership of my party, I have decided not to seek the Republican nomination for Senate,” Ridge said in a statement.

Specter: Republican Sr becomes Democrat Jr


A week after switching parties, former Republican-turned-Democratic U.S. Senator Arlen Specter has suffered the political equivalent of a kick in the pants.

The action — stripping him of Senate seniority — isn’t expected to change the outcome of any pending legislation. But it puts Specter on notice he must earn his Democratic stripes.

The figurative boot in the butt was administered on late Tuesday by Senate Democrats, who have been irritated by many of Specter’s initial moves as a member of their party.

Specter debuts on the Democratic side of the Senate

SENATE/CLINTON/GATESNewly minted Democratic Senator Arlen Specter made a relatively quiet debut as an official Democrat on Thursday — his desk was moved to the other side of the aisle.

Specter also showed up — albeit briefly — at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on President Barack Obama’s request for $83.4 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to provide additional foreign aid to countries like Pakistan.

Specter quietly slipped into the room and sat on the Democratic side of the dais but in the last seat where traditionally the most junior member sits. Specter is expected to stay on the same committees he served on as a Republican and retain his seniority.

Republicans seek dough to help defeat Specter after his defection

Reaction among Republicans to Senator Arlen Specter’s decision to defect to the Democratic party ranged from somber disappointment to outrage, and now the Republican National Committee hopes to capitalize on that anger.

USA/RNC Chairman Michael Steele sent an e-mail to supporters expressing his outrage and disbelief that Specter was blaming his fellow Republicans for leaving. He beseeched party members to send in donations to help defeat Specter in the 2010 election.

“He simply believes he has a better chance of saving his political hide and his job as a Democrat,” Steele said in the e-mail. ”He loves the title of senator more than he loves the party — and the principles — that elected him and nurtured him.”

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.

U.S. Republican Senator Specter in tough race

specter5Republican U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, 79, of Pennsylvania appears to face a tough run next year for reelection to a sixth term.
And he can blame his problems largely on his decision last month to break ranks with fellow Republicans and vote for President Barack Obama’s $787 economic stimulus package.
Those are the findings of a Quinnipiac University poll of about 1,000 Pennsylvania voters released on Wednesday.
The Connecticut-based university found that Specter, viewed as a moderate, trails former conservative congressman Pat Toomey, his likely Republican primary challenger, by a margin of 41 percent to 27 percent. Specter narrowly defeated Toomey in a 2004 primary battle.
Another and somewhat smaller poll by Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania was a mixed bag for Specter.
While the survey showed Specter leading Toomey 33 percent to 18 percent, it found that 49 percent of respondents were undecided or favored others.
That survey of 662 people also found that less than half — 40 percent — believe Specter deserves another term, with 46 percent saying it is “time for a change.”
The Quinnipiac survey showed Democrats and independents backed Specter’s support of Obama’s stimulus package. But Republicans opposed it — 70 percent to 25 percent.
Both surveys were conducted in recent days and had a margin of error between plus or minus of three to four percentage points.
“Pennsylvania Republicans are so unhappy with Sen. Specter’s vote for President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and so-called pork barrel spending that they are voting for a former congressman they hardly know,” said Clay Richards, assistant director of Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Richards added, however, if Specter survives the primary, he would have a lot going for him in the general election since there currently seems to be no strong Democratic contender.
But Specter faces other problems.
He stepped into a political hornet’s nest on Tuesday when he opposed a bill to make it easier for workers to unionize, a top legislative goal of organized labor but anathema to many in the business community and his own party.
So if Specter wins the Republican primary, he can expect to be opposed by energized union supporters in the general election. 
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Sen. Specter vows to battle cancer, seek 2010 reelection

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, 78, managed to crack a few jokes and talk about his faith on Wednesday as he vowed to fight a recurrence of cancer and seek reelection in 2010.

rtr1th1j.jpg“I consider it another bump in the road,” the Pennsylvania Republican told a Capitol Hill news conference called to discuss a recurrence of Hodgkin’s disease. “I’ve had a lot of bumps, and I’ve got good shock absorbers.”

Specter, who successfully battled the illness in 2005, disclosed this week he had been diagnosed with a recurrence of the cancer. His doctor said he had an “excellent chance of achieving a complete remission.”