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Paper: Republicans embrace Obama's bipartisanship
Published: Thursday June 7, 2007
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Republican voters' dissatisfaction with their slate of candidates has persisted throughout this year's presidential campaign. But instead of holding a candle for a TV prosecutor, some Republicans have turned away from their party, in favor of Democrat Barack Obama, the New York Post reports.

The seeds of New Yorker John Martin's infatuation with the Illinois senator and political rising star began during Obama's keynote address during the 2004 Democratic Convention, which catapulted him onto the national stage.

The 29-year-old has been a conservative his whole life, but Obama's emphasis on reaching across party lines inspired him. Martin founded Republicans for Obama, and the group now has chapters in 11 states.

"I see Obama as representing a different kind of politician," Martin told the Post. "I think a lot of us are just really wary of the Republican Party and are looking for something new. His message of bipartisanship, of appealing to more than just 51 percent of the voting population, is, I think, what we need."

The pro-Obama GOPers are most prominent in New York and California, but their movement is still in its nascent stages. The group's Web site lists 65 subscribers in all its state chapters.

Erik Paterson, a 53-year-old ex-Marine, told the Post he switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat so he could vote for Obama in the primary in California, where he heads a Republicans for Obama chapter.

"That was hard to swallow," Paterson told the Post. "I'm pretty right-wing."



While RFO is, at the moment, a very new, very small movement, some political experts believe it's potentially directional and definitely telling.

"Of the last 50 years, I can't think of a candidate that's come in and so changed the dynamic," says Martin Linsky, a former Republican legislator in Massachusetts and an adjunct lecturer at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

While Linsky subscribes to well-trod explanations regarding Obama's Kennedy-esque youth, attractiveness and optimism, he believes Obama's race, often discussed as a possible hindrance, is actually a major plus in getting white votes - reinforcing "the sense that we can do good things, feel good about ourselves as a community."

Lucas Morel, associate professor of politics at Washington and Lee University, agrees. "A successful Obama is like a successful Tiger Woods, right? Golf is known as a white man's game - and Tiger doesn't just come in, he cleans their clocks and treats the golf course like a pool table. So, a young black man coming in and succeeding - we can say, 'Good for us! We've gotten over our racism and slavery!' " He laughs. "It's all psychological. Who's gonna admit that they like Obama because it makes them feel better about themselves?"