Jim Leach a leading figure in Republicans for Obama

John McCain’s commercials seek to plant doubt about whether Barack Obama is “ready to lead,” but some seasoned moderate Republicans aren’t fooled. Former Congressman Jim Leach was among the prominent figures who formed “Republicans for Obama” today. A press release from the Obama campaign in Iowa is after the jump. Key excerpt:

“I have no doubt that Barack Obama’s leadership is the leadership we need and that the world is crying out for,” said Leach. “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.”

You can download the Republicans for Obama conference call here.

The Associated Press has more on Leach’s endorsement:

Leach predicted that many Republicans and independents would be attracted by Obama’s campaign but said his decision to endorse a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time wasn’t easy. […]

“For me, the national interest comes before party concerns, particularly internationally,” said Leach, who has long been an opponent of the war in Iraq.

“We do need a new direction in American policy, and Obama has a sense of that,” he said. “He recognizes that a long-term occupation of Iraq is not only expensive, it’s extremely dangerous to the American interests.”

[…]

Many Republicans argue that GOP candidate John McCain has an edge when the debate turns to foreign policy because of his long experience in dealing with such issues and his record as a career military officer and prisoner of war.

“There’s a distinction between trumpeting issues and realistically looking at effectiveness,” Leach said. “I have never known a time period where the American brand has been in less repair.”

David Yepsen recently opined that “it’s too early to count out McCain” in Iowa, but I see little reason to keep Iowa in the swing state column.

McCain has trailed Obama in every Iowa poll and will be unable to compete with Obama’s ground game here. Now he won’t even have the respected moderate Leach to help him in vote-rich eastern Iowa.

John Deeth has several Republican reactions to Leach’s endorsement of Obama. I had to laugh reading comments that cited this as evidence that GOP moderates are “far to the left” or that conservatives were right to lose faith in Leach.

Memo to Republicans: if Leach were an isolated case, your party wouldn’t be getting crushed by the Democrats in voter registration:

None of the states viewed early this year as competitive in the presidential campaign has swung more decisively than Iowa since Bush’s re-election, based on a comparison of voter registration statistics. […]

In Iowa, the number of registered Democrats has increased 16 percent since mid-2004, according to statistics from the Iowa secretary of state.

Trailing Republicans by roughly 8,000 in the summer before the 2004 election, registered Democrats now outnumber them by more than 90,000, according to statistics reflecting changes in July.

GOP leaders would do well to ask themselves why they have lost so much ground to Democrats. But if they’d rather discount Leach as less than a real Republican, that’s fine with me.

CONGRESSMAN JIM LEACH ENDORSES SENATOR BARACK OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT

Des Moines, Iowa – Today, the Obama campaign announced that former Iowa congressman Jim Leach endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President. Leach also joined former Rhode Island Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee and prominent lawyer and former White House intelligence advisor Rita E. Hauser to announce the formation of Republicans for Obama.

“I have no doubt that Barack Obama’s leadership is the leadership we need and that the world is crying out for,” said Leach. “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.”

“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.  “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.”

Across the country Democrats, Independents, and Republicans are coming together in support of Senator Obama to bring change to Washington. Obama has a strong record of bringing people together from the left and the right to solve problems, leading with superior judgment on foreign policy issues, and demonstrating fiscal responsibility.

Leach represented southeastern Iowa in the US Congress from 1977-2007 and earned a reputation as one of the most respected foreign policy experts in Washington.

Click here to download the Republicans for Obama Conference Call: http://my.barackobama.com/page…

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 12, 2008

CONTACT: Jenni Lee, (515) 447-4611

  • I mourned the loss of Jim Leach

    As much as I’m an ardent Dem, I do believe that part of what’s gone wrong in Washington has been a growing atmosphere of intolerance for moderation.  Jim Leach was a moderate voice of reason for Iowa, and I think it’s terribly unfortunate that dissatisfaction with Bush and the war in Iraq forced the defeat of one of the few Republicans I would have liked see stay in congress.

    That said, I’m thrilled to see him supporting Obama.

    • 20 years ago I would have agreed with you

      but the GOP leadership in Congress was just too toxic. Leach is a good guy, but every step toward building a Democratic majority was a step worth taking. I think Loebsack is going to better represent the second district as part of a Democratic majority.

      Also, Leach was pretty good at gaming his votes to get better scores than he deserved from interest groups like the League of Conservation Voters. So, he would vote for some environmental legislation but vote against the funding needed to implement it.

       

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