THE BLOG
09/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Republicans For Obama

It began back in 2006 and now it is surfacing in the New York Times.

Led by a former Bush fund-raiser and a former U.S. Senator who bolted the G.O.P. several years ago, a group of current and former Republicans disenchanted with Senator John McCain and supportive of Senator Barack Obama are banding together to start a "Republicans for Obama" effort.

Rita Hauser, a New York philanthropist who raised money for both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, is helping to organize the push to draw Republicans away from Mr. McCain and will serve as a spokeswoman for the group, alongside former U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee, of Rhode Island, who was one of the most moderate Republicans in the Senate and became an independent after he lost his seat in 2006.

Ms. Hauser served as a finance chairwoman in New York for George W. Bush in 2000 and was a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board during his first term, but she endorsed Senator John F. Kerry in 2004, because of her opposition to the Iraq War.

Ms. Hauser said she was motivated to support the presumed Democratic nominee, Mr. Obama, again by her feelings on Iraq. But she said others in the group were driven by other issues.

About 20 current and former Republicans make up the group's leadership committee, including Douglas Kmiec, a Republican who served in the Justice Department under President Ronald Reagan and was a supporter of Mitt Romney during the Republican primary, and Dorothy Danforth Burlin, a Washington lawyer who is the daughter of former U.S. Senator John Danforth, another moderate Republican.

The group plans to unveil a Web site this week that will include a chat room and the ability for others to sign onto their cause.

Susan Eisenhower, Ike's granddaughter, was drawn to what she saw as a centrist strain in the Obama message early on and became one of Barack's most enthusiastic spokespersons. Back on Feb. 2, she wrote an essay in the Washington Post called "Why I'm Backing Obama":

Forty-seven years ago, my grandfather Dwight D. Eisenhower bid farewell to a nation he had served for more than five decades. In his televised address, Ike famously coined the term "military-industrial complex," and he offered advice that is still relevant today. "As we peer into society's future," he said, we "must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."

Today we are engaged in a debate about these very issues. Deep in America's heart, I believe, is the nagging fear that our best years as a nation may be over. We are disliked overseas and feel insecure at home. We watch as our federal budget hemorrhages red ink and our civil liberties are eroded. Crises in energy, health care and education threaten our way of life and our ability to compete internationally. There are also the issues of a costly, unpopular war; a long-neglected infrastructure; and an aging and increasingly needy population.

I am not alone in worrying that my generation will fail to do what my grandfather's did so well: Leave America a better, stronger place than the one it found.

Given the magnitude of these issues and the cost of addressing them, our next president must be able to bring about a sense of national unity and change. As we no longer have the financial resources to address all these problems comprehensively and simultaneously, setting priorities will be essential. With hard work, much can be done.

There is considerably more and the whole essay is worth a careful read.

At the time of her endorsement, Newsweek commented:

Susan Eisenhower is more than just another disappointed Republican. She is also Ike's granddaughter and a dedicated member of the party who has urged her fellow Republicans in the past to stick with the GOP. But now Eisenhower, who runs an international consulting firm, is endorsing Barack Obama. She has no plans to officially leave the Republican Party. But in Eisenhower's view, Obama is the only candidate who can build a national consensus on the issues most important to her -- energy, global warming, an aging population and America's standing in the world.

It's clear that Susan Eisenhower and Republicans who agree with her (1) are hugely disenchantment with what has become of the Republican party; and (2) believe that John McCain, for all his talk of being a uniter, has actually been 95 percent in the pocket of George Bush and the neo-cons.

It is highly doubtful, at this stage, that anything McCain says -- an ambient process at best -- will win back Republicans who have engaged in a public organizational effort to support Obama.

A taste of the ambience of this Republican movement, which actually began in 2006, can be had by a visit to the official site of Republicans for Obama, which proclaims:

Republicans for Obama is a grassroots organization of proud party members who all share one important trait-- we are Americans first and Republicans second. (Even if it is a close second.) Founded in late 2006 as part of the nationwide effort to encourage Senator Obama to run for the Presidency, our volunteer-run, grassroots group now includes over 2000 registered members from across the nation.

Collectively, we have campaigned, worked for, and voted Republican all our lives, but recognize that our Country needs a new kind of leader at this time. While there will always be important issues on which thoughtful Americans will disagree, there are others that cannot be up for debate-- our economic prosperity and our standing in the world.

Senator Obama has rejected the politics of division and the win-at-all-costs attitude that has hurt our ability to move forward as a nation. While we as Republicans will not always see eye to eye with a President Obama, we know that his politics of competency and unity will lead to a stronger America.

One of the best features of the Republicans for Obama site is an area where, on a daily basis, they wrestle with the lies and misrepresentations of the McCain Campaign. I would guess they are more effective than the Democrats, knowing the enemy more intimately. Here is a selection from a response to a McCain Campaign email:

One of the reasons Obama's plans appear to cost more in terms of taxation is that Obama's not afraid to pay for his proposals. Obama doesn't vote for gimmicky tax breaks or tax rebates that really just send us further into deficit spending, run up the debt, and deflate our own dollar. Taxation is nothing compared to how hard deflation is hitting the family pocketbook. We are decreasing our own net worth! It's dropped thirty percent in eight years. THIRTY PERCENT! How hard is this to understand? It doesn't matter how many green pieces of paper you have if the paper's no longer worth anything!

It is not clear what the relation between the folk referenced in the initial NYTimes article and the established Republicans for Obama will be, but it is clear that the damage done during the last eight years bodes ill for any GOP repeat of the suspect elections of our recent past.

Perhaps, from wherever he may be, Ike is smiling.