Reporting from Los Angeles —
When it comes to discussing the man who is running to replace him, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter would prefer the aptly named game of squash.
Specter, 80, was among those who greeted President Obama on Monday when the president arrived in Philadelphia to campaign for Joe Sestak, who defeated Specter in the Democratic primary. The White House had strongly backed Specter, who converted to the Democratic Party last year, helping it to control the Senate where he had served as a top Republican since 1980.
Specter's defeat as Democrat was a bitter end to his career of 44 years as a Republican official. He was driven out of his old party because he was not conservative enough to win renomination against Republican Pat Toomey, who is now favored to win the general election against Sestak in November.
As Obama shook hands, one of the White House pool reporters caught up with Specter on the tarmac as the senator walked to his car.
"How do you think Congressman Sestak is doing with his campaign?" Specter was asked. After a short pause, Specter replied: "I'm late for the squash court, so I'm going to defer that to when I can answer in one spot."
"Should I interpret that as not very well?" the reporter said.
After another delay, Specter would only say: "Ah, I'm late for the squash court."