PITTSBURGH – Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) has sat down with moderators Susie Madrak and Ari Melber for a taut but friendly conversation, where he’s attempting to win over the most skeptical segment of his new party. Minutes before it began, Daily Kos posted a new poll showing Specter slipping badly in his primary race against Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.); Melber brought up the poll before he gave Specter a chance to explain “what you’re doing here.”
That prompted a litany: Specter “objected to President Bush’s wireless wiretapping,” provided the “key” vote on the stimulus bill, and saved Roe v. Wade by blocking Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Polite applause, no boos through out; the audience was bemused, many half-paying attention over open laptops.
Then came the questions. Would Specter support stronger climate change legislation? Yes, “I support climate change.” Would he support cloture on any Democratic bill? “A bill on cloture is a procedural vote” and “I would support Senator Reid” but he might filibuster an anti-gay bill, for example.
The questions on Specter’s party switch and alliances with Democrats weren’t that tough, and Specter parried them easily. “Oh, c’mon,” he said to a question about his cross-party friendships, “I’ve been talking to Ed Rendell forever. I’ve always talked to the other party.”
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