Obama: Specter a Tough Son-of-a-Gun

President's first visit to Philly since taking the oath of office met with protests and traffic nightmares

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Air Force One touched down in Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon for the first time since he was sworn in as president. (Published Tuesday, Sep 15, 2009)

    President Obama’s visit to Center City to attend a fundraiser for Sen. Arlen Specter Tuesday afternoon sparked protests and clogged up rush hour traffic.

    Air Force One touched down in Philadelphia around 3:45 p.m. and after giving a brief wave to the media, Mr. Obama and Sen. Specter sped off towards the city. Police shut down portions of I-95 and the Vine Street Expressway as the motorcade made its way towards the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

    Obama on Specter: He's a "Tough Son-of-a-Gun"

    [PHI] Obama on Specter: He's a "Tough Son-of-a-Gun"
    President Obama says Sen. Arlen Specter's cancer fight makes him a great champion of health care reform. (Published Tuesday, Sep 15, 2009)

    Obama’s three-hour-and-40-minute visit was spent at a $2.5 million campaign fundraiser for Specter. During a speech at the $1,000-a-head cocktail reception and $10,000-a-head dinner, the president called Specter a "tough son-of-a-gun" as he spoke about the proposed health care reform legislation.

    "For him [Specter] this is not an issue of politics or party, this is personal," Obama told supporters as he highlighted the Senator's recent battle with cancer. "This is a man who's seen the heath care system up close -- the good and the bad."

    Obama went on to say Specter's history as a fiscal conservative will help in ensuring the final cost to taxpayers will stay in check.

    Specter's wife Joan called Obama's stumping "terrific." "The President of the United States is saying 'I like Arlen Specter,' what could be bad," she said.

    The senator also had nothing but praise calling Obama a "transitional president" who “tackled the problems of the nation and the world with vigor.”

    But not everyone was thrilled about the president's support of the veteran Pennsylvania senator. Dozens of protesters lined up in front of the convention center to voice their distain for Obama's health care reform initiatives.

    Among the protests, the Independence Hall Tea Party Association called for people to gather at 12th and Arch streets from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to protest the “big government policies of Obama and Specter.”

    "We're gonna spend ourselves into oblivion," Phil Schieber said, surrounded by angry protesters.

    Obama's blitz on Philly didn't last long -- by 6:08 p.m. Air Force One was back in the sky, headed towards Washington, D.C.

    Tuesday's trip marks the first-time Obama has been back to Philadelphia since becoming commander in chief.