(Source: NBC’s Meet the Press)
MR. DAVID GREGORY: Our issues this Sunday: warring parties. Democrats and Republicans at odds over the economy, national security, abortion and health care. This morning, whether President Obama’s agenda is the blueprint for lasting Democratic rule or an example of overreach that will allow Republicans to chart the course back to power. With us for their first Sunday morning showdown as party chairs, the Democratic National Committee’s Tim Kaine and the Republican National Committee’s Michael Steele square off on the many issues that divide their two parties.
(Source: NBC’s Meet the Press)
MR. GREGORY: We are back, and joining us live now from Philadelphia, the Senate’s newest Democrat, Arlen Specter.
Senator, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
SEN. SPECTER: Thank you, David. Nice to be with you.
MR. GREGORY: Thank you. Your decision–or since your decision there’s been some pretty big news. We’ll get to the reasons for your decision in just a moment. But I want to talk about the retirement of Justice Souter and the vacancy to the Supreme Court that President Obama will now fill. You have a fair amount of experience with this as the former Judiciary chairman, and you might return to that post even as a Democrat. So what kind of justice should President Obama be looking for?
SEN. SPECTER: He should be looking for someone with a strong academic and professional background. It would be my hope that he would choose someone with diversity. Women are underrepresented on the court. We don’t have an Hispanic. African-Americans are underrepresented. I would hope that he would look beyond the circuit courts of appeals which now populate the Supreme Court and pick someone with greater world experience and diversity.
(Source: White House Press Office)
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mr. President, as we used to say in the Senate, I hope you’ll excuse a point of personal privilege here. I — Arlen Specter has been my friend and my confidant and my partner, and I his partner, in scores and scores of major, major pieces of legislation and issues for a long time. And beyond that, Mr. President, he’s been there for me every time things have been tough for me, and I hope I have been there for him.
And it gives me great pleasure, great pleasure, Mr. President, to now officially be in the same caucus with Arlen Specter. We’ve ridden the train for so many years, we’ve visited each other’s homes, our families, that it is — it’s just, as, again, a point of personal privilege, it’s just a delight to have no separation.
(Source: CQ Transcriptswire)SPEAKER: SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, D-PA.
SPECTER: As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy the Democratic Party. When the stimulus package came up for a vote, I felt that it was indispensable to vote aye in order to avoid the possibility of a 1929-type depression. In the course of the last several months since the stimulus vote, I have traveled the state and surveyed the sentiments of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and public opinion polls, observed other public opinion polls and have found that the prospects for winning a Republican primary are bleak.
I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate — not prepared to have that record decided by that jury, the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate.
- Specter joins Democrats – New York Times
In a statement issued about noon as the Capitol was digesting the stunning turn of events, Mr. Specter said he had concluded that his party had moved too far to the right, a fact demonstrated by the migration of 200,000 Pennsylvania Republicans to the Democratic Party.
“I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans,” Mr. Specter said, acknowledging that his decision was certain to disappoint colleagues and supporters.