Former Republican Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa is hosting a conference call today to kick off the Republicans for Obama campaign. The twist to this story is that Leach is a long time friend of Vice President Dick Cheney, and a supporter of campaign finance reform.
Here is what Cheney said about Leach at a 2003 fundraiser, “But I am especially pleased to be here today with Jim, because Jim and I have been friends for many, many years. Lynne and I have known Jim and Deba longer than we can count…But, so I followed Jim by two years in the House, but one of the great privileges in the House are the friendships and the relationships that deepen as a result of your time there, and I had the great privilege of serving for ten years with Jim. And it has subsequently, obviously, been a great pleasure now to return to government…”
Cheney called Leach a fine Congressman and one of the best that Iowa has ever sent to Washington, “Jim, of course, is one of the most respected members of Congress. All of you know that here in the Second District in Iowa. His colleagues in both parties know him as a careful thinker, an independent voice, and a devoted public servant. Jim and I don’t always agree on every issue, but there was never any doubt in my mind that he arrived at his views and position after careful and thoughtful deliberation, and as a matter of deep, personal conviction. I think Jim Leach is about as fine a representative as Iowa has ever sent to the United States Congress, and President Bush and I are confident you’re going to re-elect him to another term come next November. “
My, how things have changed in the past five years, according to the Radio Iowa blog, Leach served in Congress for 30 years, and is known as a moderate Republican. He is a supporter of campaign finance reform who did not accept donations from PACs. While getting the support of a friend of Cheney’s is a PR coup, this also says a great deal about John McCain.
McCain is supposed to be a maverick that supports campaign finance reform, but Leach chose to endorse Obama instead of his fellow Republican likely because the McCain campaign is loaded with the very element that Leach rejected while he was in Congress, special interest money. I suspect that McCain’s conversion to a full blown neo-con will lead to more moderate Republicans taking a look at Obama, and more pure conservatives exploring the candidacy of Bob Barr. I doubt that there will be a tidal wave of Republicans for Obama, but there will be few if any Democrats of note for McCain.