A leading Republican moderate with a foreign policy background endorsed presidential candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday as the latter expanded his appeal to members of both political parties.
Former Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa joined a group of Republicans who said they were crossing party lines to support Obama. Leach, 65, was a foreign service officer before being elected to Congress in 1976. Leach had served 30 years before losing a re-election bid in 2006. As a moderate, he has often been at odds with the conservative GOP leadership.
In an interview with the AP, Leach predicted that many Republicans and independents would be attracted by Obama's campaign but said his decision to endorse a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time wasn't easy.
Part of it is political parties are a distant analog to families and you really hate to step outside a family environment. [but] for me, the national interest comes before party concerns, particularly internationally …. I'm convinced that the national interest demands a new approach to our interaction with the world ….. There's a distinction between trumpeting issues and realistically looking at effectiveness …. I have never known a time period where the American brand has been in less repair ….Barack Obama is on a safari this general election, bagging one elephant at a time.
We do need a new direction in American policy, and Obama has a sense of that. He recognizes that a long-term occupation of Iraq is not only expensive, it's extremely dangerous to the American interests … He also recognizes that it's preferable to speak with potential adversaries rather than simply shun them ….
If you ask Americans of any political persuasion - conservative, liberal or moderate - whether they'd rather see us lead the world with allies or alone, most people instinctively say we're better off with allies … The public does understand that something is not right about our policies today.