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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More Republican Cross-Overs: Can You Spell Landslide??

More Republicans are switching to Obama. Former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Congressman James Leach (R-Ia) and a major Bush fundraiser, Rita Hauser, have endorsed Barack Obama. Thinking people will support Obama. We can thank Bush-Cheney for creating this moment for change. The list of Republicans supporting Obama grows. Staunch Republican, Dean Doug Kmiec of Pepperdine Law School, has endorsed Obama. RGN

Republican Trio Crosses Party Lines To Back Obama

McCain Response Stresses History Of Bipartisanship
By ELIZABETH HOLMES and AMY CHOZICKAugust 13, 2008; Page A5

A trio of Republicans have defected from their party's likely presidential nominee and kicked off an effort to garner support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Associated Press (Chaffee, Obama); Bloomberg News/Landov (Leach)

Republicans Lincoln Chafee, left, and James A. Leach, right, have begun an effort to garner support from members of their party for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, center.

The group, called Republicans for Obama, is led by two moderate Republicans -- James Leach, a former U.S. representative from Iowa, and Lincoln Chafee, a former U.S. senator from Rhode Island -- along with Rita Hauser, a prominent fund-raiser for President George W. Bush.

Their reasons for crossing party lines are diverse, ranging from the war in Iraq to overspending in Washington, and signal unhappiness not just with the candidacy of Republican Sen. John McCain, but with the Republican Party as a whole.

"Thousands of other Republicans are going to be picking country over party in this election," predicted Mr. Leach, who served for three decades before losing his re-election bid in 2006.
One prominent moderate Republican not joining the group: Chuck Hagel, the senator from Nebraska. A representative for Sen. Hagel said he will not be joining the group, endorsing a candidate or attending either convention.

Republicans responded by stressing Sen. McCain's bipartisan accomplishments. "Obama can roll out whoever he wants," said McCain adviser Nicolle Wallace. But for Sen. McCain, compromise "is in his DNA. It's who he is."

Yet the departure underscores the GOP's struggle to define itself in the shadow of an unpopular president and in the wake of defeat in the 2006 midterm election.

Republicans for Obama plans to launch a Web site outlining the policy differences between the two candidates. Beyond that, it isn't clear what role Republicans for Obama will have in the general election. An Obama spokesman declined to comment on whether the three founding members would be attending the Democratic National Convention.

Each candidate has had trouble courting his party's base. Sen. Obama has angered some on the left as he has tried to take a more centrist approach to issues including the war in Iraq and increased funding for religious groups offering community service. Sen. McCain has upset religious conservatives with his stance on embryonic stem-cell research as well as a refusal to support a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

As a result, both Sens. Obama and McCain have been able to woo some voters across party lines. Sen. Obama this week also received the endorsement of Jim Whitaker, the Republican mayor of Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska. "My goal is to let Republicans have a clear understanding that their right to vote should not be restricted by party affiliation," Mr. Whitaker told the press.
Sen. McCain has his own cadre of former Democrats supporting him, the most prominent of whom is Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2000 who was defeated in a 2006 Democratic Senate primary and is now an independent.

Sen. Lieberman joined Sen. McCain at a town hall meeting in York, Pa., on Tuesday. Explaining why he decided to support the Republican candidate, Sen. Lieberman said the decision is between "one candidate, John McCain, who has always put country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not."

Sen. McCain echoed the same sentiment in his opening statements. "I know Americans are tired of the partisanship," he said before opening the floor up to questions. "I have a record of reaching across the aisle, reaching across the aisle and working with my friends, whether it be Joe Lieberman or Ted Kennedy."

The Arizona senator's comments were supported by the Republican National Committee, which criticized the Illinois senator for, in its view, his lack of bipartisan accomplishments. They made note of Sen. Obama's party-line votes. During the 109th Congress, which was in session in 2005-2006, Sen. Obama voted along party lines 97% of the time. Sen. McCain voted with his party 81% of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly.

Despite Sen. McCain's bipartisan activity, including on campaign finance and immigration, the Republicans behind the Obama support group express dismay with how his candidacy has evolved.

Mr. Chafee said that he supported Sen. McCain on a number of issues while he was in the Senate but said he's seen a sharp change. "It's a different John McCain," Mr. Chafee said, pointing to the candidate's reversal from previous stances to support offshore drilling and Bush tax cuts. "Seeing the two different John McCains is a fracture in his credibility."

Write to Elizabeth Holmes at and Amy Chozick at

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