Saturday, October 25, 2008

Big names join defections from Republican camp.

Describing themselves as "Obamicans" - and Barack Obama as "a once-in-a-lifetime candidate" - a growing number of Republicans are deserting their own party and flocking towards the Democratic ticket. They even have their own website, which is working to encourage other Republicans to join them.

Joel Haugen, a Republican fighting a tough congressional race against the Democrats in Oregon, has fallen out with his party. The reason: his surprise endorsement of Barack Obama for the presidency.

"I believe in putting nation before party and my first priority is following my conscience with regard to what is best for America," Haugen said in a statement yesterday. "I have a huge amount of respect for John McCain, but I believe that he has more of a cold war mentality."

Obama promised change and one of the most remarkable changes we have seen is in the number of Republicans flocking to his side.

I personally think that they have seen the writing on the wall and are moving to save their own skins but it is indicative of just how toxic the Republican message has become after eight years of Bush and the neo-cons that so many are flocking to the other side in the hope of saving themselves. But a large number of the people changing sides aren't even running for office and are doing so simply because Obama so clearly represents change.

The latest high-profile desertions include Scott McClellan, President George Bush's former press secretary, who endorses Obama in a CNN programme to be broadcast this weekend, and William Weld, the one-time Republican governor of Massachusetts. Weld, in a statement released yesterday, described Obama as "a once-in-a-lifetime candidate".

Last weekend, Bush's former secretary of state Colin Powell publicly backed the Democratic candidate in Obama's biggest Republican catch so far.

Other defectors include Arne Carlson, Republican governor of Minnesota from 1991-1999, who wrote in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on Thursday: "The choice of Governor Sarah Palin as a running mate, and the resultant shallow campaign based on fear and suspicion, looks frighteningly similar to the politics of Karl Rove [Bush's campaign strategist]." He described Obama as having "the potential to become a truly great president".

I've never seen anything like this in my lifetime, a candidate that is so inspiring that he is causing defections from the other side at an alarming rate.

McCain, to be fair to him, has tried every negative trick in the Republican campaign handbook, but none of them appear to be working this time around. It's a combination of the economic downturn and the fact that Obama never appears remotely troubled by any of the nonsense which the McCain camp hurls at him. He literally laughs it off.

This leaves McCain seeming surly and old.

Meanwhile, in a surge that appears to increase from weekly to almost daily now, Republicans continue to leave the sinking ship of the Republican party. This is Bush's legacy; a party which is so damaged that even it's own members no longer wish to be associated with it.

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