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Posted by on May 31, 2008 in Politics, War | 4 comments

Obama Donors Now Include Former Bush Donors: Moderate Republicans And Independents

Democratic Senator Barack Obama is getting donations for his drive for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination from a batch of people who used to donate to Republican President George Bush: moderate Republicans and independents.

The Republicans, in particular, feel their party has left them as they’ve seen it during the Bush years and even under presumptive GOP nominee Senator John McCain gear itself in appeal and policies largely to its conservative base and social conservatives. And an underlying issue for both Republicans and independents is the conduct and/or impact of the Iraq war.

Beverly Fanning is among the campaign donors who’ll be joining President Bush at a gala at Washington’s Ford’s Theater Sunday night, but she says that won’t dissuade her from her current passion: volunteering for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

She isn’t the only convert. A McClatchy computer analysis, incomplete due to the difficulty matching data from various campaign finance reports, found that hundreds of people who gave at least $200 to Bush’s 2004 campaign have donated to Obama.

Among them are Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the granddaughter of the late GOP president Dwight Eisenhower; Connie Ballmer, the wife of Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer; Ritchie Scaife, the estranged wife of conservative tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife and boxing promoter Don King.

Many of the donors are likely “moderate Republicans or independents who are dissatisfied with the direction of the country now and are looking for change,” said Anthony Corrado, a government professor at Colby College in Maine who specializes in campaign finance.

“There is a large block of Republicans, particularly economic conservatives, who just feel that the Republican Party in Washington completely let them down” by failing to control spending and address other problems, Corrado said. “The Republicans have really given these donors no reason to give.”

Some of the reasons cited for opting for Obama cited by Republicans and independents interviewed in the article include:

–Hopes Obama can bring people together.
–Hopes Obama can rebuild fractured foreign alliances.
–General hopes Obama can heal divisions here and abroad.
–Disappointment with Bush’s Iraq policy.
–Backlash over Bush administration use of propaganda and spin to sell the Iraq war.
–Disappointment with Bush’s economic policy.
–Concern over national debt growth under Bush.
–Being moved by Obama’s 2004 speech to the Democratic convention.
–Concern over Senator Hillary Clinton and a desire to stop her.

This isn’t the first time news stories have noted that moderate Republicans in particular, who feel read out of their party, have moved towards Obama.

Last June the Chicago Sun Times ran this by Jennifer Hunter:

There is an interesting phenomenon that has arisen over the last few months: a trend of moderate Republicans who want to vote for Barack Obama. It may seem counterintuitive, conservatives supporting a candidate who wants to tax the wealthy and embrace the conventions in the Kyoto Accord, but there is something in Obama’s message about ridding politics of partisanship that is appealing to these Republicans.

He doesn’t carry the baggage of a Hillary Clinton. He is new; he seems authentic — although his connection to indicted fund-raiser Tony Rezko has made some previous supporters wonder — and he has more gravitas than pretty boy John Edwards. The Republicans who like him may have supported John McCain in the past, but after eight years of the Bush White House they feel they can no longer support the Republican field. The idea of a congressional glasnost — a harmonic nonpartisanship in Washington — is an Obama goal they endorse.

Some of these right-wing Obama supporters are putative country club Republicans, hailing from areas similar to the North Shore of Chicago. Others are professionals who are disillusioned by the Bush administration’s failure to develop a sound domestic policy to redress issues of health care and Social Security or to end the relentless war in Iraq.

Hunter then runs a list of policy and controversies that turned off many of these Republicans. And then this:

The war is the main issue for many of these Democratically inclined Republicans and it is how the war has tarnished America’s profile abroad. “I went to India last February,” recalls Chicagoan Dian Eller, who works in philanthropy. “And the first thing my driver asked was if I had voted for Bush.” Eller did vote for Bush the first time around, but not the second because she “was angry and disappointed about the war.” But the pointed questions from the Indian driver made Eller very uncomfortable. “I am so upset about the way people feel about our country.”

She wants to vote for someone who is a healer, who can restore America’s respect in the world. She did think about Obama for a long time until she read the recent Sun-Times and New York Times stories about his early connection to the indicted Rezko, and it made her wonder. She is still thinking about whom to support, although it likely will not be a Republican. “Where in the world,” she asks, “can we find a candidate who is different?

In the case of independent voters, the “swing voters” have long been an Obama strength, although he has faced some erosion among them in recent months. Independent voters have generally favored him over Senator Hillary Clinton — even though Clinton had claimed last month that she was the independent voters favorite, a contention not supported at the time by polls. Obama and McCain have been tied in their highly competitive battle for independent voter support.

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