Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Leach Endorses Obama

Leach Endorses Obama

Conference call this AM under a "Republicans for Obama" banner. To be honest, I though Jim was just going to be quiet and let the silence, and Elisabeth's donations, speak for him.

I'm also thinking, with a sense of irony, back to that big Ped Mall rally two days before the 2006 election. 5,000 folks showed up for Obama, but Dave Loebsack got the second biggest cheers. I started to think, "you know, he just might do it." Good to know Leach doesn't begrudge Barack just because he campaigned for the other guy.

Key quotes:

  • "Frankly, I'm convinced that the national interest demands a new approach to our interaction with the world. Like many I'm astonished at Barack Obama's meteoric rise as a candidate. I have no doubt his is the leadership we need."

  • "I also have no doubt that a lot of Republicans and independents are going to be attracted to his call for a new era of nonideological, bipartisan decision-making."

  • "Barack Obama's platform is a call for change, but the change that he is so gracefully articulating is more renewal than departure. It is rooted in very old American values that are as much a part of the Republican as the Democratic tradition. There's an emphasis on individual rights, fairness and balance at home and progressive internationalism."

  • "Basically from my perspective, this is simply not a time for politics as usual. The portfolio of issues that are going to be passed on to the next president will be as daunting as any since the Great Depression and World War II and that means that the case for inspiring new political leadership and a social ethic has seldom been more self-evident."

    UPDATE 1: Reactions --

    “Congressman Leach is well-respected across the state of Iowa by Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike, and we are honored to have his support,” said Obama Iowa State Director Jackie Norris in a press release. “This election is about changing the way Washington does business, and many Republicans like Congressman Leach understand America cannot afford another four years of the failed policies of the Bush Administration.”

    "It’s rather ironic that someone like Jim Leach, a person who placed such a strong focus on campaign finance issues, would be endorsing the first presidential candidate since Watergate to skirt the public financing program in the general election," said Iowa McCain spokesperson Wendy Riemann in a press release. "Despite Obama’s lofty speeches on change, Iowans know that real change comes from working across the aisle to get things done. A single endorsement does not hide the fact that Senator Obama has no record of achievement beyond the confines of his party. While John McCain has spent his career putting the country first -- ahead of personal and party interests - Senator Obama's record is a lesson in partisanship.”

    Iowa's top Republican blogger, Krusty Konservative, expressed surprise at the endorsement. "While he is very well respected in the Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport area, his endorsement doesn’t carry much weight unless he’s willing to make some appearances and work to get his former supporters to back Obama," writes Krusty.

    Republican activist Mike Thayer, author of the Coralville Courier blog, disagrees. "Not surprising, and another example of how and why many GOP faithful lost faith in Jim Leach," he told Iowa Independent.

    State Sen. Dave Hartsuch of Bettendorf, the Republican candidate for Congress against Rep. Bruce Braley in the 1st Congressional District, is a conservative who defeated moderate incumbent Maggie Tinsman in a 2006 primary. Hartsuch said Leach had been quoted in a recent issue of Campaigns and Elections magazine as a supporter of the Republican Leadership Council, a group that hopes to move the party in a more moderate direction. "I think it's interesting," Hartsuch said of Leach's endorsement, "because it really shows how far to the left this group is."

    "For some reason, probably the war, (Leach) feels that he cannot support John McCain," writes Republican state central committee member David Chung at his Hawkeye GOP blog. Leach was one of only five Republican House members to vote against the war in 2002. "Moderates in the party have long complained that conservatives would abandon them. In fact it is obvious that just the opposite is true," said Chung.
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