Arlen Specter

Former Sen. Arlen Specter appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee hearing. (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency / December 6, 2011)

Former Sen. Arlen Specter, on a return visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, said Pennsylvania would be difficult for President Obama to win in next year's election.

"I think it is tough; I think Pennsylvania's economy is hurting," Specter said in a brief interview outside the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room where he had just testified.

Specter spent 30 years representing Pennsylvania before losing in the Democratic primary last year. Now from his view on the outside looking in, Specter said the president "has to become engaged" in state issues if he hopes to carry it again.

He referenced dredging at the Port of Philadelphia, a project he said he secured $77 million for when he was in Washington, but that the Corps of Engineers has reprogrammed $55 million of it.

"There are thousands of jobs at stake," Specter said. "That money was taken from us and he hasn’t done anything about it. He's going to have to have his attention to practical matters like that if he’s going to be reelected."

Specter was back in the Senate to testify on allowing cameras to televise Supreme Court proceedings, an issue he's worked on his entire career.

"One of the real sad parts about leaving the Senate was not being able to carry the fight forward," Specter said.

The issue has reemerged as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments against the 2010 healthcare law next year.

Allowing cameras in the high court has bipartisan support from lawmakers who want those arguments to be open to the public, but the Supreme Court justices have pushed back.

Specter dismissed the opposing view that the presence of cameras could affect how counsel behaves by increasing dramatics or grandstanding.

"To the extent that there could be theatrics, and there might be some, that is vastly outweighed by the benefit of public understanding and having the public see how its government functions," Specter said.

Illinois Democrat Richard J. Durbin, who Specter said promised to carry on the issue in his absence, and Iowa Republican Charles E. Grassley, introduced a bill Monday to require television coverage of Supreme Court sessions that are already open to the public.