Rep. Joe Sestak and Sen. Arlen Specter appeared on CNN’s State Of The Union this morning, just two days before voters head to the polls in the hotly contested Pennsylvania Democratic Senate Primary. In back-to-back interviews, the pair repeated the jabs and barbs they’ve been trading for weeks. But there was some evidence of what each man sees as his vulnerabilities heading into Tuesday — Sestak continued to be defensive about his military records, while Specter was eager to talk up his Democratic party bona fides.
“On the big issues, I voted more with the Democrats than with the Republicans,” Specter told CNN’s Candy Crowley when she asked him answer accusations that his party switch was a cynical act of political expediency. Specter, stinging from Sestak’s attacks over his vote against Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan when she was nominated as the Obama Administration’s Solicitor General, tried to highlight the times he stood with the left on the Supreme Court nomination process.
“Take the Bork confirmation hearings,” Specter said, attempting to show his connection with Democrats. “It would be a different Supreme Court had Bork been confirmed and I led the fight to defeat him.”Specter voted to confirm Supreme Court nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito, two others that drew fire from the left.
Specter said that his voting record — which he called “independent” — made it clear that he’s the best choice to defeat likely Republican nominee Pat Toomey in the fall.
“People recognize that I’m the only guy who can beat Pat Toomey,” he said. “You gotta face up to the issues and you gotta be tough and I’m the guy to do it.”
Sestak, meanwhile, said that he was the one with the stronger chances against Toomey.
“[Specter] is behind Toomey by 12 points,” Sestak said. “I’m tied with Pat Toomey.”
Sestak said that voters were upset by Specter’s decision to switch parties and were eager to support a candidate like him who has been a strong Democrat for years.
Crowley asked him if one of the reasons he was getting strong support was due to the fact that he was not the candidate supported by the Democratic establishment. She asked if maybe some supporters on the left were turning to him to send a message to the White House.
“This is absolutely not about President Obama,” Sestak said. He said the race came down to Democrats supporting a Democrat, plain and simple.
But Sestak wouldn’t say if he would support his party’s nominee to beat Toomey should it be Specter.
“[I] never deal with something that’s not going to happen,” Sestak told Crowley. “Because we’re going to win.”
Specter was more open to standing with Sestak should things not go his way May 18.
“I’m going to support anybody against Pat Toomey,” Specter said.