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Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) has backed off from his rather interesting comment: "There's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner."

Specter explained to CQ that it was all a mistake:

"In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates," he said. "I'm ordinarily pretty correct in what I say. I've made a career of being precise. I conclusively misspoke."

Asked who he's backing now in elections, Specter said, "I'm looking for more Democratic members. Nothing personal."


As I've posted, I asked the New York Times' Deborah Solomon, who conducted the interview, whether Specter seemed like he meant it -- and she says he did.

So was Arlen Specter joking, when he seemed to say he wanted Norm Coleman to win in Minnesota? That's what some people have been wondering after Specter said this: "There's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner."

So I asked New York Times reporter Deborah Solomon, who conducted the interview, what her impression was of Specter's actual tone of voice and overall expression.

"I trust he meant what he said," Solomon wrote to me. "If he had been joking, surely he could have come up with a wittier line."

Late Update: Specter has backed off of the comments, explaining: "In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates."

Ralph Reed, Christian Boy King.
Reader MC suggests that Neil Patrick Harris should get the role because, "it would be delicious to have the openly gay, eternally Doogie, actor play the Christian right's boyish smarm king." Cheers.

Newscom/Zuma

Grover Norquist, The Front Man.
Multiple readers rightly suggested Philip Seymour Hoffman to play Norquist, whose non-profit organization was a front for Abramoff lobbying activity.

Newscom/Zuma/PHL

Michael Scanlon, the "Evil Elf."
Reader JL suggested Aaron Eckhart of Batman fame -- an inspired choice.

Newscom/Roll Call/Wenn

Tom Delay, The Enabler.
Chris Cooper received the plurality of reader support for this role. Reader JW said that Cooper is the obvious choice because he is "always excellent, always playing those creepy government guys."

Newscom/UPI/Zuma

Conrad Burns, The Tainted.
Reader BF suggested Robert Duval. Yes.

Newscom/Roll Call/MRP

Bob Ney, The Casino Bandit.
John Goodman could capture the drama and comedy of Ney, who once got caught stuffing his pockets with gambling chips.

Newscom/UPI/SPN

John Doolittle, The Hero.
A number of readers suggested Steven Root (of Newsradio and Office Space) for Doolittle, who Abramoff once referred to as a "Hero."

Newscom/KRT/FWD

Steven Griles, The Inside Man.
Brian Dennehy was the reader favorite for old man Griles.

Newscom/Roll Call/Zuma

Kevin Ring, The Middleman.
If you've seen Arrested Development or 30 Rock, you'll surely agree with Reader MJ that Will Arnett would play an outstanding crooked lobbyist.

Newscom/CQ/Starmax

Italia Federici, The Cooperator.
Laura Linney was the favorite.

Newscom/Roll Call/PHL

Jack Abramoff, Big Spender.
Keyser Söze actor has already signed on for this roll.

Newscom/Roll Call/Zuma

At today's White House briefing earlier this afternoon, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs indicated that President Obama will continue to support Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) -- even if he's not supporting the Democratic agenda:

Jake Tapper (ABC): A follow-up on a couple of issues, one regarding the Pennsylvania primary. President Obama has said he will commit to Senator Arlen Specter. Today, Congressman Sestak of Pennsylvania said he is inclined to challenge Specter in the primary. Given the fact that Specter's very first vote as a Democrat was against the President's budget, is there anything that Specter could do that would -- in terms of voting against the President -- that would change the President campaigning for him against a Democrat who is more in line with the President's priorities?

Gibbs: I think the President was pretty clear on this. Senator Specter has his full support, and he'll do what's necessary to see him reelected. I think Senator Specter said it the day he made his announcement that he's going to make decisions on individual bills. But I think that him switching to the Democratic Party was a belief that that's the party that could best serve his constituents. We don't get a hundred -- we don't generally get a hundred percent of any party voting for us, but we'll continue to try.


In Gibbs' defense, this was before reports came out that Specter said he supported Norm Coleman in the disputed Minnesota race.

Harry Reid spokesman Jim Manley gives us a comment about Sen. Arlen Specter's (D-PA) apparent desire for Norm Coleman to win the disputed Minnesota Senate race.

"Well, on that one we are just going to have to disagree," Manley writes, "because as far as Senator Reid and the people of Minnesota are concerned, Al Franken is going to be the next Senator from Minnesota."

Just a quick update on the nomination of Harold Koh to be the State Department's legal adviser. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was supposed to hold a vote today on whether to favorably report him to the full Senate, but was prevented from doing so by Sen. Jim DeMint (D-SC) who's placed a hold both on his nomination and on the nomination of Susan Burk to be the President's Special Representative for Non-Proliferation.

The holds will last until at least the committee's business meeting next week. DeMint didn't cite any particular reason for placing them, but I've placed a call to his office asking for an explanation.

It looks like the Bushies are going all in to limit the damage from those torture memos.

The Washington Post reports that former Bush administration officials have launched a "behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign," designed to pressure DOJ to soften its forthcoming ethics report into the lawyers who approved torture.

Read More →

The SEIU isn't the only major union worried about Specter's new shoot-from-the-hip political strategy. AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale says, "Endorsement decisions for Pennsylvania are made by the workers in Pennsylvania and the State AFL-CIO Federation, not in DC."

As [AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard] Trumka explained that process is based on the issues that matter to workers, not party affiliation, or who the establishment is backing. This same process is used for both primaries and general elections.


Specter's now saying he hopes the courts ignore the will of Minnesota voters (and of his new party) and send Norm Coleman back to the Senate. And in a perverse way, that makes a certain amount of sense--if the courts uphold Franken's victory, then Specter will give the Democrats their 60th vote--a contingency he once warned against rather loudly. That's a curious way to be consistent, but, more importantly, an implication that he wants to see his new party's agenda undermined. If Coleman returns to the Senate, the benefits to the Democrats of Specters' switch (glancing as they've been) will become all but meaningless.

On CNN moments ago, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) reiterated a couple themes he touched on when I interviewed him last night--specifically that the Democratic establishment has embraced Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) for expediency's sake, and that Specter may not be a reliable choice for Pennsylvania Democrats, particularly given that his next term, should he win re-election, won't end until 2016.



Specter's working toward a compromise with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chief sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, but Sestak's demanded much more of him if he hopes to fend off a primary challenge.

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