(WASHINGTON)- Barack Obama's campaign is jumping the fence lately, trying to attract voters that don't traditionally vote Democratic.
This morning, the campaign rolled out a "Republicans for Obama" effort as former U.S. Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, and Former Bush Foreign Policy Advisor Rita Hauser announced their support for Obama on a conference call. Also on the call was former GOP Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who switched to the Democratic Party earlier this year to vote for Obama in his state's primary. Chafee said there are "thousands" of Republicans, "big shots and little shots," who will "weigh the choice" in candidates and "come around to vote for Obama in the election."
Leach added that Obama's policies are "rooted in very old American values, as much as part of the Republican, as the Democratic traditions" and this will encourage previously Republican supporters to "pick country over party in this election."
Leach also said that he hoped Obama would consider Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as his running mate. Hagel recently traveled with Obama to Afghanistan and Iraq. "I think Chuck would be the type of Republican who will represent well this country," Leach said.
The group will launch an "interactive" and "innovative" website in the next several days to attract Republicans to Obama. The site will feature a chat room and list the candidates' policies on various issues.
"We know that there are things going on around the country and we want to bring it together on a site," Hauser said. She also noted that this is not a fundraising venture but the grassroots organization will "of course" help Republicans if they organize recruiting events in their communities. "People are getting together, ordinary Republicans" in their living rooms, Hauser said. "It is those people we hope to attract in the next period in large numbers."
Meantime, this effort to attract Republicans is evident in a new radio ad, which plays on John McCain's visit to a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., last Tuesday.
"I will take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day," McCain says in the ad, followed by a narrator saying "but when it comes to his record, American-made motorcycles like Harleys don't matter to John McCain." The spot, airing in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, speaks to protecting American jobs from overseas markets, yet interestingly targets motorcyclists -- a group not traditionally associated with Democrats.
Also, yesterday, the campaign launched "Barns for Obama" which, according to a campaign press release, "will reach out to rural Ohioans statewide" and "encourage supporters to paint their barns with [the] Obama logo."
As part of the initiative the group released a web video which shows time-lapse photographs of barns being painted and soundbites of Obama pledging to support family farmers. The group hopes Obama supporters will "fan out to county fairs and community events across the state to share the "We're in it together" video and discuss Obama's rural-friendly policies."