WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Joe Lieberman applauded Arlen Specter's move to the Democratic caucus, saying he was pleased to be joined by "yet another independent minded Democrat."
"I enthusiastically welcome my good friend Arlen Specter into the Democratic caucus. It will be very good to have the company of yet another independent minded Democrat in the caucus!" he said in a statement.
"I have always admired Arlen as a man of deep principle who has been a bridge builder to get things done in the Senate. Arlen understands that we get things accomplished when we listen to the vital center of American politics. I know that Arlen will continue to make a major contribution to the Senate and the nation as an effective independent leader and problem solver."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman said Tuesday that Arlen Specter owes Republican voters in the state an apology for saying in the past he would not switch parties.
"I, like many of my fellow Pennsylvania Republicans, took Senator Specter at his word when he said that he would not switch parties, and I believe he owes every Republican who has supported him over the last three decades an apology," said state GOP chairman Rob Gleason in a statement.
Gleason also said Specter should "do the right thing and proactively return any and all campaign contributions he has received in recent months to run as a Republican in the upcoming election."
Specter said in a statement earlier Tuesday that he planned to return donations if he was asked to do so. "Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle," he said.
Saying he is "deeply disappointed" in Specter, Gleason made a point of stressing that "the Republican Party has room for conservatives and moderates because we are the party of ideas."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Arlen Specter's Republican polling firm, Public Opinion Strategies, is resigning from the Pennsylvania senator's campaign following his party switch.
"Senator Specter has been a record-setting U.S. Senator, and we have been part of his campaign team in 1992, 1998, and 2004, but because of his surprising decision to switch parties today, we will no longer be involved," said Specter pollster Glen Bolger in a release Tuesday. "As Republicans, we are disappointed by Senator Specter's decision."
Public Opinion Strategies does polling for 15 GOP senators and has worked for Joe Lieberman, who left the Democratic Party to become an independent in 2006.
(CNN) – An offbeat campaign-year trend carried over into President Obama's White House tenure Tuesday: as he delivered remarks at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an overwhelmed audience member fainted away.
"Oop, did somebody faint," the president interrupted mid-sentence after a bureau employee collapsed. "Do we have a EMT here?"
The president said it wasn't the first time his speeches caused someone to pass out.
"This happened during my political campaign all the time," the president told the crowd. "I was talking too long, people would be falling out every which way. They are usually fine. They just need a little bit of air and a little bit of water."
Moments before the episode, FBI director Robert Muller handed President Obama two teddy bears for daughters Sasha and Malia along with a bureau t-shirt and baseball hat.
"I am grateful to the FBI for the t-shirts, the teddy bear for the girls. Even though we kept our promise on the dog I wouldn't want to come home empty handed," the president joked.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Veteran Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter told colleagues Tuesday he intends to switch from the Republican to the Democratic party.
A Specter party switch would give Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate majority of 60 seats if Al Franken holds his current lead in the disputed Minnesota Senate race.
"Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right," Specter said in a written statement posted by his office on the Web site PoliticsPA.com.
"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."
Specter, a five-term Senate veteran, was greeted by a loud, sustained round of applause by dozens of constituents outside his Washington office shortly after the news broke.
"I don't have to say anything to them," a smiling Specter said. "They've said it to me."
President Barack Obama called Specter shortly after learning the news during his daily economic briefing in the Oval Office Tuesday morning, according to a senior administration official.
"You have my full support and we're thrilled to have you," Obama told Specter.
Jubilant Senate Democrats also welcomed the news.
"Sen. Specter and I have had a long dialogue about his place in an evolving Republican party," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said in a written statement.
"We have not always agreed on every issue, but (he) has shown a willingness to work in a bipartisan manner, put people over party, and do what is right for Pennsylvanians and all Americans."
Reid called Specter a "man of honor and integrity" who would be welcome in the Democratic caucus.
Specter was expected to face a very tough primary challenge next year from former Rep. Pat Toomey, who nearly defeated Specter in the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary in 2004.
Since the Obama administration lifted the ban on media coverage of fallen troops returning to the U.S., most military families are choosing to allow reporters and photographers to witness the ceremonies.
The press had been banned from covering these solemn ceremonies ostensibly to protect the privacy of the soldiers’ families. Cynics suggest it was because President Bush didn't want attention drawn to the fact that soldiers were being killed in the phony war he started in Iraq.
The ban was actually imposed 18 years ago by Bush’s father, the first President Bush, during Operation Desert Storm. The father of one Army corporal recently killed in Iraq said, "I think it was to protect the government's butt."
That's exactly what it was.
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Sen. Specter is swarmed by reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday after news broke that he was switching political parties. (Photo Credit: Charles Riley/CNN)
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter released a statement Tuesday announcing his decision to leave the Republican Party:
Statement by Senator Arlen Specter
April 28, 2009
I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.
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.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Reacting to Sen. Arlen Specter's decision to leave the GOP, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said the Pennsylvania senator left to avoid electoral defeat.
"Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not," he said in a statement.
"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 because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.
"Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don't do it first."