PHILADELPHIA -- Vice President Joe Biden on Friday defended U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter's Democratic credentials against a primary rival's criticism that the former Republican only switched parties to save his job.
"Arlen is the Democratic candidate," Biden told KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. "Now I grant it, there's a primary, but this is the guy the Democratic Party got behind early on."
Specter is in a close race in the Democratic primary Tuesday with two-term U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, who has run an ad questioning whether Specter is a real Democrat. The commercial shows Republican-turned-Democrat Specter with former President George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. The tag line of the ad says, "Arlen Specter switched parties to save one job - his - not yours."
Specter switched his party affiliation last year, saying the Republicans had moved too far right politically. President Barack Obama and Biden promised to help Specter secure a sixth term; both have been part of ads and automated calls in the state.
In the interview, Biden said he didn't expect that Sestak would have taken on Specter.
"I was a little surprised Joe ran. I worked like the devil for Joe when he ran for Congress. He is my neighboring congressman. My state borders his district. And I worked hard for Joe and he's a fine guy. I just wish he hadn't gotten into the primary," the vice president said.
Biden said Specter was his closest friend in Congress and Obama's stimulus package wouldn't have survived without the Pennsylvania lawmaker's support. Biden said that vote made it impossible for Specter in the GOP
"I say he switched jobs to save Pennsylvania jobs," Biden said. "Have you met anyone in the world who said Arlen Specter yielded under pressure? Have you ever heard that? Never. Never. Never."