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Biden says Specter’s switch good for country

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Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday night that Republican Sen. Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party was a good thing for the country.

Biden, who was in Houston for a Democratic National Committee fundraising reception at the home of lawyer Neal Manne, said he and Manne had been trying to remind Specter that he was really a Democrat. Manne was Specter’s chief of staff in the 1980s.

“I have been working on that in earnest for the past four years and double time for the past 100 days (as vice president),” Biden said.

“It seems only appropriate that I am at your home on the day that Arlen Specter … came back home as a Democrat,” Biden told Manne in front of a crowd of about 30 donors and supporters, the Houston Chronicle reported in its online edition. The event had been planned days ago.

Biden said Specter won’t join Democrats on every vote, but he said the switch is “a good thing for my friend Arlen, it’s a good thing for our party but it’s even better for the country.”

“On the real critical issues, health care and others, I think you are going to see it’s going to make a significant difference,” he added.

Not long after Specter met privately with Republican senators in Washington to explain his decision, the party’s leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, said the switch posed a “threat to the country.” The issue, he said, “really relates to … whether or not in the United States of America our people want the majority party to have whatever it wants, without restraint, without a check or balance.”

© 2009 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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