Biden talks about Specter with “regional reporters”

Vice President Joe Biden held a telephone conference call earlier this afternoon with "regional reporters" and Biden was asked two questions about Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter's decision to jump from the GOP to the Democratic Party. Click here to listen to Biden.  The first question is about Specter's role in Employee Free Choice debate.  ("I don't know," was Biden's main point.) The second comes from a reporter from Pennsylvania who asked about Biden's role in Specter's switch and there is some reference to spaghetti sauce from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

"I start out with a bias," Biden said after the exchange over spaghetti sauce. "He's been my friend and confidant for well over 30 years. We've worked together on a wide range of really critical issues from Supreme Court nominations  – the Bork nomination and we disagreed on the Thomas nomination — I mean, we have been together for a long, long time. 

"One thing I walk away with knowing about Arlen (is) one, he has more courage than most people I know. Number two: he is absolutely independent and he decides on a course and he takes it and he usually is able to sustain an incredibly rigorous intellectual rationale for the positions he takes.

"Having said that, I believe Arlen became convinced that the Republican Party left him."

Now, more about the rest of the call.  "We've been pretty busy over the past 100 days," Biden said in an opening statement, before launching into a recap of what's happened since he and President Obama took office.  Biden's opening remarks lasted over nine minutes.

The first question came from a reporter from The Salt Lake Tribune, about transparency about federal stimulus package spending. The second question came from a reporter from The Detroit News, about the potential of Chrysler filing for bankruptcy.  The third question came from a reporter from The Associated Press, about the Employee Free Choice Act and the impact Arlen Specter's switch might have on prospects for passage.  The fourth question came from a reporter from The Scranton Times, about Specter's conversion and Biden's role in it.

The fifth question came from The Arizona Republic, about the agenda for the next 100 days and whether immigration was on it.  The sixth question came from The Marietta Register, about the Delta Queen riverboat.  The final question came from The Denver Daily News, about health care reform.

Biden identified Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as a key player on health care reform

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.