Behind the Scenes

How Specter Ditched the GOP

Yesterday, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter defected from the Republican Party and joined the Democrats. What happened behind the scenes? For months, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had assured Specter that the Party would support him in his uphill primary fight, according to Politico, but Harry Reid was able to win him over simply by showing him the numbers—Specter would probably lose the Republican primary. Vice President Biden, who served with Specter for 28 years, took the lead in trying to convert him, calling or meeting him more than once a week since President Obama took office. President Obama was not told until yesterday morning, and upon hearing the news, "Obama's eyes got very wide," an adviser tells The Washington Post. In today’s New York Times Olympia Snowe, Republican senator from Maine, writes, “it didn’t have to be this way. … [I]t is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party.”