May 3rd, 2009
08:21 PM ET
4 years ago

Sestak says he's 'not sure' Specter's a Democrat yet

Sestak is weighing a 2010 Senate bid.
Sestak is weighing a 2010 Senate bid.

(CNN) - Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak told CNN Sunday that he wasn't sure Sen. Arlen Specter is really part of the Democratic Party, the latest in a series of tough comments aimed at his potential Senate primary rival.

"I'm not sure he's a Democrat yet," he told John King on State of the Union.

President Obama said earlier in the week that Specter had his support, with one administration official saying it took the president about "seven seconds" to make that decision.

Those remarks don't faze Sestak.

"The president has said he respects Arlen's independence..." he said. "He'll respect mine if that is the case, I know that."

After Specter's announcement last week, Sestak said he was taking a wait-and-see approach on the question of whether to embrace the party's newest senator. Later in the week, he finally confirmed publicly that he's weighing a Senate bid of his own, setting up the prospect of a primary fight between the Democratic congressman and the party's newest senator.

In an effort to give a boost to any potential Democratic primary challenger, Specter's former colleagues in the Senate GOP launched a new campaign last week designed to highlight the consistency of his Republican record and his ties to President Bush and other party leaders.


Filed under: Arlen Specter • Extra • Joe Sestak • Pennsylvania • State of the Union
soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. vicky

    Specter is enough of a democrat for me. He voted against impeaching Clinton during the republican party's farce during the late 90's, he voted for the stimulus package this year, and has voted with democrats many other times. I will be voting for him to retain his senior position in the Senate. I would much rather vote for a known entity than some newcomer I have never heard of.

    May 3, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Gary

    Spector says that he is not changing his positions or his independent voting streak. So who is to gain with this move? If Spector wins the democratic primary than the Republicans get the benefit of either a liberal republican (Spector) or a conservative republican (Toomey). The democrats only gain if the true democrat (Sestak) wins the primary and beats Toomey (the state is leaning dem right now). It isn't clear to me why they would want Spector to win.

    Dems would be better off if Spector stayed Republican and had a hard fought primary against Toomey which would have let to an easier victory for the democratic candidate (Sestak, Rendell or Chris Mathews).

    If I was Sestak I would run in the primary and if I lose threaten to run as an independent. That would force the Dems to push Spector into retirement which is probably where he should be.

    May 3, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  3. rick

    Want if he gets re-elected as a Democrat and switches back to the Republican Party, this may be their way to keep the seat.

    May 3, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. Marie in Texas

    aaah me, when repubs cant beat deomcrats any other way, they send IN one of thier own to spy on rest, claiming he Spector defected ! HA ! He isnt a democrat now, or ever will be..BUT I am sure pres Obama is aware of this and watching him closely, and will pounce on him when time is right..the rest of those "blue dog" democrats are prob repub s too in disguise ! The one thing repubs can nOT do though is outwit Obama in intelligence ! He 'knows" whats going on, he will find ways to deal with all of them in his own good timing..

    May 3, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  5. FreeNLovIt

    Throw him out and get new fresh blood!! Goodness, retire and enjoy your last days on earth. Why Why do they want this job?

    May 3, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. Salas

    Listening to sistak talk on SOTU,i was impressed by his mien and clarity with which he answered the question posed to him. i think he would be a better senator than specter,who should be persuaded to retire.Sistak appears to be the best guy,i think democrats should not be carried away because of gaining a senator,he probably isnt useful again,so lets have a NEW face in DC.

    May 3, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  7. Perusing-through

    If Dem. Joe Sestak runs against Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Primaries, it will force Specter to acknowledge where he aligns himself with the Democrats and with President Obama's agenda. In short, Sestak running against Specter is win-win for the Obama and the Democratic Party.

    May 3, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  8. edith in oregon

    This was perhaps John"s best performance. The format of the program appeared seamless and he appeared much more relaxed. In addition, he wasn't focusing so much on what others thought of President Obama. Fareed Zakaria, is excellent and I'm pleased to see CNN use his expertise . His program is the most powerful, intellectually stimulating program on television.

    May 3, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    Spector is not, he is a moderate which does not bode well with the left-wing of Obama's base.

    May 3, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  10. Emma, San Jose

    What politicians will do to get elected!

    May 3, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. Simmy

    That's right, Rep. Sestak, keep your name and voice 'out there.' You seem to be an appealing guy...You're a Dem, so we can't go wrong....as long as PA stays true to Blue..

    May 3, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. jojo

    Eric Holder and Barack Obama have CLEARLY engaged in treason. Why is cnn not plastering that story all over it headlines ?

    Because so many Americans believe the POTUS to be a traitor, cnn MUST in a very public way explain what treason is, from a legal point, and then explain to us why Holder and Obama have not committed treason, in the opinion of CNN. Otherwise cnn must begin the drum beat of an impending trial in Federal courts and the harsh punishment deserving of someone who has betrayed their country.

    May 3, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. MatthewK

    Of course Obama is supporting Specter – he's who Obama thinks can win, and that is all the Democratic leadership care about. Of course things aren't much better when it comes to some of the GOP leadership – looking to run another old, dull, moderate (Ridge) in the race over Toomey.

    The Parties have lost their ideological hearts, they've become far too concerned with power, moderation, compromise, etc. Give Democrats 2-4 years, and they'll start having the same problem the GOP had the last two cycles: a base that becomes frustrated with inaction, and a population unhappy with the "power first" mentality.

    At least the bases of the two party still have principles.

    May 3, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. Joan-Massachusetts

    John King is the reason why people are thinking on their own......

    Enough with your biasness!

    May 3, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  15. HEIDI

    The Democratics don't need to start the same old BS that the Republicans are doing. Rep. Sestak don't start crap just to get your 15 minutes of fame.

    May 3, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. Makiki Joe

    I'm surprised that Obama gave Specter, gave (a recent turncoat to the Dem party) an endorsement so soon. The endorsement was premature and reckless Obama was shooting from the hip. And that was ill considered. Obama should have waited to see what Pennsylvania Dems wanted. He should have known that Specter might be facing a Dem primary battle in Pennsylvania. Obama would have been wiser not committing to any favorite. I hope a more liberal Dem actually wins the Dem nomination and ousts Specter. Let's remember tha Specter voted AGAINST supporting the recenly passed Obama backed federal budget. For we liberals, Specter would be a dubious friend at best. And who needs that.

    May 3, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. Kris in Atlanta

    Go Joe! We have made too much progress in the Democratic party, and are shepharding America into a more promising and hopeful direction, and we need to keep that momentum going. We don't need the opportunitist Specter along for the ride. Authentic Democrats need only apply.

    I think it unfathomable that the voters in Pennsylvania would fall for this self-serving ploy perpetrated by Specter.

    May 3, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  18. Ken

    John Kings Program is like a bitter republican with a program. I used to think I will be waking up to listen to it. Thank John, My sundays are relaxed and I sleep till 1pm when your program is over!

    May 3, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. Harry

    Ofcourse Satek will be Loved by the like of John King.....

    Thank to this Program. It keeps Americans thinking on their own!

    May 3, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. Walter

    I hope that Representative Sestak will run for the Senate. Nobody deserves a free ride – certainly someone who just boarded the bus.

    I have no problem with conservative Democrats and that may be precisely what Senator Specter becomes. But he needs to be put to the test.

    May 3, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. Bern

    When John King will learn, that is when republicans will have a chance with Americans

    Hey, first they apologize of their illegal war and fear mongering of hispanics...

    John King with the state of division.....

    It might have taken him 7 seconds to welcome sestak to his Progam so long as he can bring Specter down.......

    John, go away and take Lou Dobbs with you!

    May 3, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  22. Philadelphian Trapped in Texas

    I'm truly sorry the Republican party has abandoned Arlen Specter, but if it hadn't, he would never have left. He was and is a moderate Republican, and I have always respected him for that. But he's also not a Democrat by any means. I don't know Joe Sestak (been away for too long), but if I were voting in the PA Democratic primary I would be keeping my eyes and my mind open.

    May 3, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. Oregon

    It's a warning. Sestak's telling Specter he needs to vote like a Democrat, if he wants to rely on Democratic support in the next election. If Specter can be politically pragmatic . . . so can the Democratic Party. And I see nothing wrong with it.

    May 3, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. Hope

    Democrats need a primary so that they can all put their ideas forward, we want Federal Health Care here yesterday, we want alternative energy, we also want 21st century learning institutions.

    May 3, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. step aside Specter and let the next generation try

    you have done a good job, now let the next generation try

    May 3, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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