Specter’s loyalty

SPECTER’S LOYALTY…. Last week, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, among others, reported on a Tuesday-morning conversation between Arlen Specter and President Obama. The Pennsylvania senator reportedly told Obama, “I’m a loyal Democrat. I support your agenda.” The Wall Street Journal had a report with the identical quote.

Yesterday, however, Specter insisted on “Meet the Press” that he’d never made these comments. “I did not say I would be a loyal Democrat. I did not say that,” Specter said, adding, “I did not say I am a loyal Democrat.”

Who’s right? Greg Sargent did some digging.

As I noted below, The Wall Street Journal‘s Jonathan Weisman, who reported Specter’s promise, told me that he’s sticking by the report’s accuracy and that neither Specter nor his office disputed the story when it first came out last week.

Now ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, who reported the same thing last week when the news broke about Specter’s switch, is telling me the same.

Stephanopoulos says his “reporting was well-sourced,” and adds that Specter’s office didn’t object to it when it ran or since. “Never heard from Specter’s office,” Stephanopoulos emails.

It is rather odd. The quote in question ran on Tuesday, and was picked up far and wide. If Specter or anyone on his staff had a problem with it, they had several days to request a correction or try to walk it back. Neither senator nor his aides said a word. Now, however, Specter would have us believe he never made the comment?

What’s more, it’s not at clear why Specter is denying having said this to the president. He joined the Democratic Party and wants the Democratic Senate nomination in Pennsylvania next year. For Specter to go out of his way to let the public know he doesn’t plan to be a “loyal” member of the party seems like a strange strategy.