PARTY LINES

Sen. Specter Switches Parties

In a move that can be construed as either a shrewd decision to improve his chances for political survival, or a bold statement against the Republican Party, Sen. Arlen Specter defected to the Democrats today. If all goes as planned with Al Franken's Minnesota seat, the Democrats will have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Specter's statement was released today at noon and immediately sent shockwaves through D.C. President Obama received word at 10:25 of the decision, and quickly reached Specter on the phone, telling him "You have my full support... We are thrilled to have you." Specter, who will be running for re-election in 2010, was lagging behind his opponent in the primary, Congressman Pat Toomey. RNC Chairman Michael Steele (no stranger to controversy, himself) quickly lambasted the Pennsylvania senator, telling the Washington Post, "Let's be honest—Senator Specter didn't leave the GOP based on principles of any kind." Specter, who faced substantial criticism for his support of the stimulus package, attributed his decision to a philosophical shift within his former party. "There oughta be a rebellion" in the GOP, he said at an afternoon press conference, noting the party's future was "bleak" if it continued to be dominated by social conservatives.