Sestak skips Obama Pittsburgh visit
When President Obama traveled to Pittsburgh Wednesday morning, he was accompanied by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) -- but Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), who beat Specter in last month’s Democratic primary and is seeking his seat in the fall, was curiously nowhere to be found.
According to a White House pool report, Specter boarded Air Force with the president and accompanied him to his speech at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University. White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters that Sestak was invited to attend a political meeting with Obama and Pennsylvania leaders before the speech, but that Sestak had a prior engagement.
A spokesperson for Sestak said that the congressman was in Philadelphia Wednesday for two events: one with the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, and another for Philadelphia FIGHT's AIDS Education Month. “He had prior commitments that he felt were important,” the spokesperson said.
The White House has pledged to back Sestak in his bid against former Rep. Pat Toomey (R). But with both the administration and the two-term congressman coming under fire in recent days over a job offer made to Sestak last year, it's fair to say that a joint Obama-Sestak appearance would have been awkward, to say the least.
Sestak's spokesperson noted that the congressman “looks forward to standing and working with the president in the near future.”
-- Felicia Sonmez