Biden's Big Role in Specter Switch | NBC New York

Biden's Big Role in Specter Switch

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    In a sign of the critical role Biden played in convincing Specter to cross the aisle, the Pennsylvania pary-switcher placed his first call this morning not to the president, but to Biden.

    In the Democratic Party’s courtship of Arlen Specter, no one may have played a bigger role than Vice President Joe Biden.

    Biden has been trying to convince Specter to switch parties for at least the past five years, but those efforts were stepped up once he was sworn in as vice president, a senior White House official said.

    Biden has met or spoken on the phone with Specter an average of once a week since the inauguration. And after Specter became one of three Senate Republicans to support the administration’s stimulus package, those conversations were stepped up.

    In the past 10 weeks, Biden has spoken with Specter 14 times - six in person and eight on the phone, according to the senior official.

    "The vice president feels that this is a great thing, that Senator Specter is going to be more at home as a Democrat," said the official.

    Biden's argument over the past two months was plain: “Your party has left you.”

    "It's no longer a place for a moderate, pragmatic Republican," he'd tell Specter, arguing that when Specter was elected in 1980, the GOP had a lot of moderate Republicans, but that the Democratic Party was more in line with the senator's views on health care, the economy and foreign policy, the official said.

    Biden also stressed the Republican Party's reaction to Specter's stimulus vote, saying: "This is not your party."

    In a sign of the critical role Biden played in convincing Specter to cross the aisle, the Pennsylvania pary-switcher placed his first call this morning not to the president, but to Biden.

    Biden received a call from Specter at 8:45 a.m., but because the vice president was traveling, the two former colleagues did not speak until 10:58 – after Specter spoke with Obama.