Ed Rendell rattled off the votes and accomplishments of newly minted Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter last night at the party state committee in Pittsburgh: climate-change controls; expanded CHIP health coverage for kids; affirmative action, a hate crimes bill; increases in community development grants; billions more in funding for research at the National Institutes of Health.

"Sounds like a pretty good Democrat, doesn't it?" Rendell said, to applause from the aparatchiks assembled for a dinner honoring the late Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll.

But there was more. "He saved the country, in my judgement," Rendell said, referring to Specter's crucial vote that helped secure passage of the president's $787 billion economic stimulus.

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