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Several officials say veteran Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania intends to switch parties, advancing his own hopes of winning a new term next year while pushing Democrats one step closer to a 60-vote filibuster-resistant majority.

The sources said an announcement could come later in the day — or Wednesday. The officials who provided the information did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss his plans.

Specter is a 79-year-old veteran of five Senate terms, and one of only a handful of moderate Republicans left in Congress in a party made up largely of conservative

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