Republicans for Obama

Former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach:

"For me, the national interest comes before party concerns, particularly internationally," said Leach, who has long been an opponent of the war in Iraq.

"We do need a new direction in American policy, and Obama has a sense of that," he said. "He recognizes that a long-term occupation of Iraq is not only expensive, it's extremely dangerous to the American interests."

Leach said he was attracted to Obama's call for a dialogue with nations such as Iran that have long been seen as U.S. adversaries.

"He also recognizes that it's preferable to speak with potential adversaries rather than simply shun them," Leach said.

Fairbanks Mayor Jim Whitaker:

“My goal is to let Republicans have a clear understanding that their right to vote should not be restricted by any party affiliation,” the borough mayor said. He said the economic and political challenges facing the state and country are broader than political parties alone can address and suggested Republicans should consider crossing party lines by focusing on the strongest candidate this year.

Obama spokesman Jeff Giertz on Monday called Whitaker the “highest-profile” Republican in the state to endorse the Democratic senator.

Whitaker, a former state lawmaker, said a comparison of Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain — neither of whom he has personally met — leads him to believe Obama has the stronger “intellectual capacity” and a greater ability to manifest it. He said his endorsement should not be viewed as one of the Democratic Party, noting that absent criminal convictions of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens or Rep. Don Young, he would be supporting their respective re-election campaigns.

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