April 28, 2009
"Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."
Arlen Specter, Senator from Pennsylvania, in a statement announcing his switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party
Specter shocks the political world with his announcement that he intends to switch parties. The change will most likely, at least in theory, give Senate Democrats their 60th vote and a filibuster-proof majority if Al Franken ends up getting seated in the still pending Minnesota Senate race. Specter stresses that he will not be an automatic Democratic vote.
President Obama phones Specter to welcome him to the party just before the news breaks, telling him he has the President's "full support," and some reports say Vice President Joe Biden played a role in facilitating the switch. Senate majority leader Harry Reid also has welcoming words for the Senator, while RNC chairman Michael Steele seems to kick him on the way out, saying, "Let's be honest Senator Specter didn't leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests ..."
A slew of new polls give the Obama Administration strong reviews for its first 100 days in office, with a New York Times/CBS News poll finding that the first African-American President seems to be improving the public perception of race relations in the country.