Specter's Quick Identity Change
Well, that didn't take long.
Within an hour or so of word leaking out that he was switching his political allegiance from Republican to Democratic, veteran Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) was huddling with and embracing his newly adopted party.
Here's how it went:
11:55 a.m.: The Fix breaks the news that Specter is abandoning the Republicans.
Noon: Specter issues statement saying he's switching parties.
12:15 p.m.: Specter votes on Senate floor, one of 92 'aye' votes in favor of final passage of new anti-fraud legislation.
12:20 p.m.: Specter goes to lunch with his wife Joan, and son Shanin, in Senate Dining Room.
1:05 p.m.: Specter walks into weekly luncheon of Senate Republicans, in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Room, just off Senate floor;
1:10 p.m.: Specter leaves GOP lunch, headed for hearing on swine flu.
1:45 p.m.: Specter reaches appropriations committee hearing on swine flu, takes seat on Democratic side of the aisle.
The panel chairman, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), did not reference Specter's big news today. But he did mention that the two men have worked together for years on flu preparedness issues.
"It's been a great partnership," Harkin said, calling Specter "a great partner, great leader and great friend."
Harkin then yielded to Specter who spoke for several uninterrupted minutes about the flu crisis and his past work on the issue.
"I regret that I can't stay longer, but this is a complicated day for me," Specter said, prompting laughter in the room.
"That's not a laugh line," he said. "But you can laugh if you want. Who am I to say."
Specter left about 15 minutes after arriving in the room, never having asked any questions of the witnesses. He stopped to embrace Harkin on his way out of the room.
He was slated to appear in the Senate Radio/TV gallery to explain his decision at 2:15 pm.
-- Ben Pershing and Paul Kane
April 28, 2009; 2:15 PM ET
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