Senator Arlen Specter, reborn as a Democrat, appeared at the White House with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and said, "I think that I can be of assistance to you, Mr. President. ... There are a lot of big issues we're tackling now that I've been deeply involved in." Specter and Biden are good friends; the NY Times reports that Biden had been pressing Specter about switching parties lately: In the past 10 weeks, "Mr. Biden and Mr. Specter had spoken 14 times — six times in person and eight in telephone conversations. [Each time] Mr. Biden argued that the Republican Party had increasingly drifted away from Mr. Specter since the election and that ideologically, he was closer to the Democratic Party." Today, Obama said, "I don't expect Arlen to be a rubber stamp. In fact, I'd like to think that Arlen's decision reflects recognition that this administration is open to many different ideas and many different points of view... I'm eager to receive his counsel and his advice, especially when he disagrees."