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Are Republicans Rallying for Obama? Why Obama's GOP Endorsements Had Everything to Do With Likability

11/06/2012 12:37 pm ET | Updated Jan 06, 2013

By Dave Kerpen and Amanda Mikelberg

While President Obama toured the destruction of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey, Mitt Romney stayed dry, spending the last precious moments of Election 2012 in swing states to herd loose voters onto his turf. In lieu of thanks for the rousing endorsements he did not receive, Romney thanked his biggest backers -- the donors -- budgeting time for a conference call in-between stops in Ohio and Pennsylvania for the $800 million they helped raise for him.

Obama's gratitude went to his Republican endorsements, from Colin Powell and (former Republican) Michael Bloomberg, that Romney could have had in the bag if maybe he had been more likeable. Obama also thanked the Red Cross and the volunteers and victims of Hurricane Sandy for their courage to carry on through adversity, combining his campaign message of perseverance with the democratic commitment to community support in helping others overcome their obstacles. Luckily, he had Republican Governor Chris Christie standing by to champion him and his message.

Christie's praise for Obama and their teamwork in the aftermath of the epic storm united the interests of Christie followers and Obama's. Essentially, the apparent partnership gives permission to moderate Republicans who have reservations about Romney's severely conservative agenda to vote for Obama without the shame of being a turncoat.

In an interview with an Israeli TV station, Christie defended and reiterated his approval of Obama in the storm's aftermath, which left 2.7 million New Jersey residents without power in their homes and many others along the shore without homes at all.

"The fact is that if somebody does a good job they deserve credit and New Jerseyans expect me to work with everybody -- Republicans, Democrats, Independents -- to get through this crisis and get the job done," Christie said.

"Come see the destruction, come see the loss, and then tell me if you're going to still criticize me for complimenting somebody who is the president of the United States and who has provided help to my people during one of the worst crises this state has ever faced," Christie said.

Two other prominent Republicans had also thrown their support behind Obama: Former South Dakota Senator Larry Pressler, a Vietnam vet, and former-Republican-turned Independent Florida Governor Charlie Crist.

Pressler said he was endorsing the President for a second term because of his commitment to service people and war vets.

"President Obama recognizes our sacred trust with those who serve starts when they take their oath and never ends. He's enacted tax credits to spur businesses to hire unemployed veterans and wounded warriors. He implemented and improved the post-9/11 GI Bill, the largest investment in veterans education since the original GI Bill over sixty years ago," Pressler said.

Charlie Crist wrote in an Op-Ed in the Tampa Bay Times: I'm confident that President Barack Obama is the right leader for our state and the nation."

"He kept his compass pointed due north and relentlessly focused on saving jobs, creating more and helping the many who felt trapped beneath the house of cards that had collapsed upon them," he wrote.

In this fierce race, Obama turned some fearful foes into friends by demonstrating his value to the other side. He did it with humility, gratefulness and the best kind of teamwork imaginable -- the kind that has a direct impact on the lives of the American people. How did he do it?

He did it by being truly likeable. It is his likeability -- in this case, the qualities of gratefulness, adaptability and teamwork -- that's made all the difference in attracting political allies who have a remarkable following of their own. Likeability is the midas touch of leadership.

Look no further for evidence of Obama's likeability than on social media. On Facebook, Obama's Likes totals nearly 32 million, compared to Romney's 12 million. The Facebook group Republicans for Obama has 29,874 likers, while the Democrats for Romney page attracted only 2,744 Likes from the Facebook community.

In a blog posted on September 28 on RepublicansforObama.org, lifelong republican Mike Judd articulated the sentiment of some alienated conservatives of the general populace:

It is truly sad that Governor Romney was selected to lead the party. He appears to be out of touch with the rest of us. I cannot vote for a man who asks to lead while he squirrels his millions of dollars in off-shore accounts and pays 14% on the rest. He would keep the wealthy paying a minimal tax rate, while his partner Paul Ryan proposes to balance the budget by neutering Medicare, Social Security and other programs. These wealthy folks are the ones dependent on the government for their special tax breaks to a far greater extent than those with the greatest need. So count me a Republican for Obama.

If nothing more, the favoritism shown by these powerful and popular Republicans sends a strong message that even deeply held political differences can and should be transcended for the greater good. And, that the greater good requires teamwork -- not the stratification of classes and stinginess to help those who may not be able to help themselves.

Moreover, each of the people who had the gumption to reach across the political aisle and declare the president a fit and effective leader also strengthened their own public image by demonstrating their character in recognizing that of another. They've done more to strengthen their own causes by minimizing the controversial differences in ideologies and reclaiming idealism for Republicans.