Penny Starr | Senior Staff Writer | Friday, February 22, 2008
But pundits and political operatives say there should be no confusion about the contrast between McCain (R-Ariz.) and Obama (D-Ill.) if the two win their party's nomination.
"It's a brilliant strategy" for Obama to tell reporters that some Republicans have whispered their support for him, Brian Darling, director of U.S. Senate Relations and Government Relations with the conservative Heritage Foundation told Cybercast News Service.
That will "lay the table for Republicans to feel comfortable voting for Obama," Darling said.
He said it is clear that McCain is the conservative and Obama the liberal politician, but it may be something other than ideology that will lead some Republican voters to switch sides.
"Maybe Republicans who loved Reagan because of his great speaking skills will be drawn to Obama," Darling said of the so-called Obamacans. "He is the best speaker we have seen in years and far better than John McCain at wowing a crowd."
Darling said in the case of what he dubbed "McCainacrats," it probably will be ideology that makes Democrats vote for the Republican ticket.
"There are Democrats who believe in being strong in the global war on terror who are drawn to the hawkish message of John McCain," he said. "They think he will be a strong commander-in-chief."
Peter Wehner, former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said this kind of crossover happens every election cycle even if the phenomenon may be greater in some, including the Reagan Democrats of the 1980s.
"There is always going to be some group in a political party who are reachable," Wehner told Cybercast News Service.
But despite Obama's political skill, voters will have a clear choice in November if McCain is his opponent in November, Wehner said.
"(Obama) is completely an orthodox liberal," Wehner said, adding that most of Obama's speeches don't reveal much about his ideology. "I don't think it's well known where he stands."
Some people who say they are Republicans disagree with Wehner, including Tony Campbell, a political science teacher in Baltimore, Md., who signed on to the virtual Obama campaign and now volunteers as its press spokesman.
"There are issues that Obama is more moderate on than McCain," Campbell told Cybercast News Service.
Campbell said trade issues like NAFTA and GATT, tax cuts for the middle class and tax breaks for small businesses, and support for the Second Amendment, make Obama attractive to some Republicans.
He also said Obama was a sponsor of the Citizen Promotion Act of 2007, which includes language that would crack down on businesses employing illegal workers.
"Immigration is the conservative issue," Campbell said. "At least it was in 2004."
Campbell, who claims to be pro-life, said he is not bothered by Obama's stance on the issue, because he doesn't think either candidate will change the status of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme decision that legalized the procedure nationwide.
"If abortion is such an issue with Republicans, why haven't Republican presidents over the past 30 years done something about it?" Campbell said. "Is it fair to ask a Democrat to do what the Republicans haven't done?"
Republican and Democratic officials, however, said voters will be choosing between two distinctly different candidates if McCain and Obama face off in the presidential election.
"John McCain is not the maverick he portrays himself to be," Stacie Paxton, press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, told Cybercast News Service.
"Once voters get to know the John McCain who sold out his principles to win the Republican nomination, the John McCain who will keep our troops indefinitely in Iraq, and the John McCain who doesn't understand or have a plan for the economy, voters will reject McCain's promise for a third Bush term and send a Democrat to the White House," Paxton said.
"Barack Obama is the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate," Andrea Saul, spokesperson for the Republican National Committee told Cybercast News Service.
"His policies to raise taxes, grow government, and retreat on the war on terror will be rejected by American voters this fall. Americans across the board are beginning to realize Barack Obama lacks the experience to be commander-in-chief," Saul added.
Wehner predicts that by the time the 2008 election rolls around, it will be business as usual.
"I think the uplifting, airy appeal of Obama is going to dissipate, and it's going to become a more traditional campaign," he said.
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