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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

By Eric Pianin  |  April 28, 2009; 2:15 PM ET
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Next: Officials: Government Well-Prepared for Swine Flu, but Worst Is Yet to Come


I will be extremely happy to see Arlen Specter's obituary notice.

Posted by: hclark1 | April 28, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

It appears that since 1966,there have been no problem with Specter as a Republican, when he was to have crossed over from the Dem's.Today, We say WELCOME back to the Home base as he says goodbye to the Rep's. It appears Mr Specter has remained the same kind of Respectable Man, and still loved by his fellowman if not by his past Party. Many folks applaud Mr Specter for being such a genuine person.

Posted by: mamamay | April 28, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Just like cheating lovers: If they'll do it with you, they'll do it to you. Except with Specter, he's now done it to both. Hope he doesn't have an STD...

He certainly isn't infected with loyalty to anybody except himself and certainly not his country....

Posted by: TexRancher | April 28, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Hclark 1, that's a little tough. Would you be satisfied with his departure from the Senate?

Posted by: aardvarks | April 28, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse


Specter switched from Dem to GOP in 1966 and from GOP back to Dem in 2009, and there is no doubt that political self-preservation was the motivation in both cases. You say you look forward to reading Specter's obituary. Really? Do you think he is different than any other politician, Republican or Democrat? Former Senator Phil Gramm, to give just one example, came to Washington as a Democratic member of the House before switching to the GOP for political expediency.

On the other hand, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Gonzales, Addington, Yoo, Bybee and Haynes very likely committed, aided or abetted war crimes. Rather than reading their obituaries, I would gladly settle for a full and fair examination of their actions -- something the GOP apologists insist would somehow be the wrong thing to do. As if sanctioning torture somehow made us safer.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | April 28, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

The Bush/Cheney/Limbaugh gang chased an other moderate Republican away today. When will the stupid Republicans learn that we're not a right wing loving country. They should muzzle "Big Dick" Cheney. As for Limbaugh ... He's the Democrats best friend

Posted by: wasaUFO | April 28, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

People are acting like this is the first time this has happened -- no Republicans were complaining when Richard Shelby, or Ben Nighthorse Campbell, or for that matter, Ronnie Reagan switched from being Democrats to their side of the aisle. I have no doubt that this is a totally self-serving decision; in fact one made by a guy who switched TO the Republicans to get elected more than 40 years ago. Glad to have the extra "D" but I'd be happier if a real Democrat won the primary and took over the seat in 2010.

Posted by: Omyobama | April 28, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Good for you Arlen! you do deserve better than the stab in the back the irresponsible Republicans gave you after all these years! Welcome to sanity, solidarity and sensibility, welcome to the Democratic Party, glad to have you.

Posted by: Hillary08 | April 29, 2009 5:39 AM | Report abuse

"The Bush/Cheney/Limbaugh gang chased an other moderate Republican away today. When will the stupid Republicans learn that we're not a right wing loving country. They should muzzle "Big Dick" Cheney. As for Limbaugh ... He's the Democrats best friend"

Posted by: wasaUFO | April 28, 2009 10:13 PM

I really don't think it is a fair assessment of our nation to say that America hates conservatives. There is clear evidence in the very nature and construction of our bipartisan government that would suggest that both parties are valued. As a result of our bipartisan government, politicians from both parties are elected into office at relatively even numbers. The mere fact that we haven't chosen a century long row of Democrats shows that America doesn't hate conservatives. It might be fair to say though that at this particular point in time our nation might have a dislike for conservatives because of the bad image ex-president Bush gave for Republicans as per his poor approval ratings. The prior insults made to the Republicans only serve to hinder and distract the discussion.

However, it is good to critique his motives for why he switched parties a second time. One could only speculate his motives, but discussion on that topic should continue.

Posted by: HarrisonTouw | April 29, 2009 5:49 AM | Report abuse

Arlene Spector will be interesting to watch as a Democrat on the senate judiciary commitee. For those of us C-span junkies: who can forget the Supreme court nomination battles, and more recently Alberto Gonzales a member at the time of his own republican party being completely destroyed by the old Philadelpia DA.

Posted by: edhenson | May 4, 2009 4:05 AM | Report abuse

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