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Awkward! Obama, en route to help Joe Sestak, runs into Arlen Specter, then loads up on junk food

September 20, 2010 |  3:38 pm

Democrat president Barack Obama crosses White house enroute to Pennsylvania again 9-10-10

You know how you're heading out on a date with a new younger friend that you hope is really successful and on the way you run into your older ex who knows exactly what you're doing and wants to talk and wish you all the best anyway?

Eew. Well, today that happened to President Obama. He's back in the land of bitter small-town folks who cling to their guns and religion and preferred Hillary Clinton, trying to raise another wagonload full of dough to help Rep. Joe Sestak catch up in his endless race for a Pennsylvania Senate seat.

Sestak trails Republican ex-Rep. Pat Toomey so badly that he's willing to take the help of the president whose political magic did so little for losing Democrats last year in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts and, this year, in Pennsylvania.

In order to convince incumbent senator Arlen Specter to realize that he really was a Democrat after all these years in the GOP, last year Obama and Joe "I Left Pennsylvania for Delaware" Biden promised to back Specter no matter what in 2010.Democrats Barack Obama and Arlen Specter in happier political days, 2009

Sestak's a former admiral who screwed things up by challenging Specter in the Democratic primary despite White House job offers sent via ex-President Bill Clinton. Sestak creamed the old guy Specter.

So, now Obama and Sestak are best buds because the Nov. 2 midterms are only 42 days away and other polls indicate numerous Democrats may be joining those stubborn unemployment lines.

So Obama bounds down the steps of Air Force One today in Philly and there at the bottom are a bunch of excited retired folks and the about-to-be-retired Specter. Oh, hey, hi, Joe, er, Arlen, how are you?

Politico's enterprising Carol Lee, one of the traveling media poolers, asks Specter what he....

...thinks of Sestak's campaign so far. And after a long tarmac pause, Specter replies, "I'm late for the squash court so I'm gonna defer that to when I can answer in one spot."

Of course, Lee persists: So, should we interpret that as not so good? And Specter, who come to think of it should still be working as a senator from Pennsylvania, instead says, "I'm late for the squash court."

Meanwhile, the president is off to harvest money from a pair of fundraisers in the city of brotherly love.

But en route, Obama makes an unscheduled stop at a city market and -- don't tell Michelle because she's on a nationwide health food kick for everyone else --  he buys two Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and washes them down with a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone.

To make it look good, at the urging of another vendor the fast-food maven purchases four apples and leaves $1. An aide quickly covered the rest of the fruit bill.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images (Obama enroute to Philadelphia for a couple of cheesesteak sandwiches and fundraisers); Mandel Ngan  / Getty Images (Obama celebrates Specter realizing he's a Democrat, 2009).