You might say he owes him one. After today's announcement by President Barack Obama that he will nominate Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court -- which brings up awkward questions at a bad time for Sen. Arlen Specter -- maybe Obama will give Specter a lift and campaign for him as we hit the final week. That was the big question today when I spoke with a couple of Pennsylvania's most astute political observers about this race.
"Six years ago George Bush dropped in to save the day for Arlen Specter," Muhlenberg College professor and pollster Christopher Borick said, referring to Specter's narrow win against Pat Toomey in the Republican primary. "Is the president on his way? He says he has the clear support of the White House. Is he going to cut the ad this week? Is he going to fly in to do the rally? ... Is that asset going to be utilized?"
Franklin and Marshall's oracle G. Terry Madonna wondered if Specter could have called Obama last week, once rumors of the Kagan pick started to swirl, and ask him to at least delay the announcement until after the primary. Madonna said the pick is a big blow to Specter and feeds right into the message of his primary rival, Rep. Joe Sestak, to remind voters of Specter's lengthy Republican record. What Specter now must do, Madonna said, is focus a massive get out the vote effort -- with the state Democratic machine on his side -- on the moderate Democrats, particularly in Philadelphia, who may not be as engaged right now but who came out in droves for Obama in '08.
"He’s got to figure out a way to bring out voters who aren’t likely to vote now to vote, and that his experience, his record, his fighting for the state and all that means something," Madonna said. "And he's hoping he can get President Obama [to] come in this weekend in Philadelphia."
Queries to the White House and Specter campaign about any possible trips for Obama or Vice President Joseph Biden to Pennsylvania this week were not returned.