President Obama’s Campaign Arm Tries to Get Grass-Roots Democrats to Defeat Fellow Progressive

Organizing for America, the former grass-roots campaign arm for President Obama’s 2008 campaign, is trying to rally supporters to phone bank and get out the vote in Pennsylvania for Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Penn., the former Republican locked in a tight primary race with a far more progressive Democrat, Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Penn.

Chris Bolling, the national volunteer coordinator for OFA, writes in an email that the “stakes of this election are high: ensuring that allies of the President are elected in the House and Senate to fight for change. So starting this weekend, through Tuesday's election, there will be phone banks for OFA volunteers in D.C. We'll call into Pennsylvania and encourage voters to support leaders who will fight for President Obama's vision for change.”

Specter, of course, supported the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and only became a Democrat when it became clear he would suffer an ignominious defeat in the GOP primary to former Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Penn. But the White House, needing Specter’s support for various parts of the president’s agenda, pledged to help him in his re-election.

But all that politics making strange bedfellows means that the president’s campaign arm is asking grass-roots progressives to vote for someone who until last year was a Republican to defeat Sestak, who is indubitably a more legitimate progressive.

Sestak told ABC News’ “Top Line” on Thursday , “I intend to be not a yes man but one of his strongest if not the strongest ally (President Obama) can have in the Senate.”

The DNC says the get out the vote effort is intended to help Specter and Mark Critz, who is running to succeed the late Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., in the Keystone state’s 12th congressional district.

-Jake Tapper

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