Outreach to Specter

OUTREACH TO SPECTER…. There are plenty of reasons Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) might consider a party switch. Most notably, it would improve his chances of staying in office given his likely GOP primary and animosity towards him among the conservative activists who make up the party’s far-right base.

And while Specter apparently intends to stick with the Republican Party, high-profile Democrats are apparently encouraging him to reconsider.

Ed Rendell told RNN-TV, a regional cable news channel in the Northeast, that he has in fact tried to talk GOP Senator Arlen Specter into switching to the Democrats — oh, and so have some other important people, who Rendell probably shouldn’t have mentioned.

“We’ve tried,” said Rendell. “Myself, Senator Casey, Vice President Biden have tried to talk him into it, but he’s bound and determined to stay a Republican.”

When asked for comment by RNN-TV, Specter’s office pointed them to an interview he gave recently where he said he was “prepared to run as a Republican,” and did not directly confirm or deny that Specter has been approached by Joe Biden, Ed Rendell or Bob Casey about switching parties.

In the short term, this makes some sense. Every caucus wants to improve its numbers, and for Senate Democrats in particular, the notion of a 60-seat majority is no doubt appealing.

But Rendell & Co. probably shouldn’t invest too much energy in this. For one thing, Specter seems unwilling to make the leap across the aisle. For another, it’s far from clear that Democrats really need him to switch.

After all, most voters in Pennsylvania are ready to replace Specter next year, and Democrats have some top-tier candidates eyeing the race. For Rendell and the Democratic establishment in Pennsylvania, shouldn’t there be less of an emphasis on wooing Specter, and more of an emphasis on defeating him?