October 20, 2009

SNARLIN':

Obama Made Arlen Specter Big Promises For Switching Parties. Now, Specter Wants Him To Pay Up (Howard Fineman , 10/19/09, Newsweek)

Barack Obama and Ed Rendell were delighted when they convinced Sen. Arlen Specter to switch parties earlier this year. But now that coup falls into the category of "be careful what you wish for," because the president and the governor of Pennyslvania have a problem on their hands: Arlen Specter. Here's the problem: Specter is up for re-election next year, and he was promised the full campaign backing of Obama and Rendell--not just in the general election but in the primary next May, if there was one. Well, there is one, and it is shaping up as a fierce one, against Rep. Joe Sestak, who represents the Philly suburbs. Specter, a notoriously tough and nasty campaigner, will expect his two big backers to support him to the hilt. And Specter, a 79-year-old cancer survivor with enough fortitude for the three of them, has leverage: he's the "60th vote" in the Senate. Read one way, Specter has no choice but to support Obama down the line; read another, Specter has the power, should things get ugly, to snarl the president's legislative agenda.

Mr. Specter's only power is that of the suicide bomber. Breaking with the President would mean giving up on re-election.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 20, 2009 6:23 AM
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