Democrats are planning on enlisting "several" wayward Republicans to help turn out the vote for President Obama at next month's Democratic National Convention, but who will it be? The news comes in the form of an event planning document obtained by Politico's Mike Allen saying Democrats want a "centrist Republican leader" or "notable G.O.P. woman" to play a part at the Charlotte convention on at least two of the nights. This is a savvy strategy that has been tried in the past: Think Zell Miller's anti-Kerry speech at the 2004 Republican convention or Joe Lieberman's endorsement of John McCain in 2008. And, as Outside the Beltway's James Joyner notes, with the GOP's rightward drift, there's no shortage of disenchanted moderate Republicans who've either been primaried out of office or sidelined in the party. So which Republicans are low-hanging fruit? Here's who some are speculating about:
John Warner A GOP moderate floated by Allen, the former Virginia senator could be a good bet to attract independents to Obama's side. After he left the Senate in 2009, The Washington Post called him a "political giant" in a lengthy profile boosting his independent record. "Warner is widely hailed as a bipartisan broker able to break ranks on principle without losing friends; a man who is at least as fierce an advocate for the state's military bases, rivers and highways as for such national issues as security and defense," the paper wrote.
Chuck Hagel Another possibility cited by Allen is former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel. It certainly wouldn't be out of character to step on stage and say a few unpleasant things about the GOP, something akin to what he told Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin in May. "Reagan would be stunned by the party today," Hagel said from his office at Georgetown University where he teaches. "Reagan wouldn't identify with this party. There's a streak of intolerance in the Republican Party today that scares people. Intolerance is a very dangerous thing in a society because it always leads to a tragic ending," he said. "Ronald Reagan was never driven by ideology. He was a conservative but he was a practical conservative. He wanted limited government but he used government and he used it many times. And he would work with the other party."
Olympia Snowe A punch in the gut could also come from Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, who could refrain from endorsing Obama but raise her own profile by pushing for a bipartisanship. News that Snowe is leaving the senate sparked a flurry of diatribes about the "death of the moderate Republican." It's possible she could go on stage with some sort of platitudinous unity message resembling her statements when she left the Senate. “Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term,” Snowe said. “So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate.”
Arlen Specter He's not really a Republican any more but he was for almost his entire career, which could count for something. These days Specter seems a bit restless, what with his GOP-bashing standup comedy bits. Maybe he'd be up for a star turn at the convention? He could recycle some of his Gingrich material. "I've known Newt for so long, I knew him when he was skinny…I've known him for so long, I knew his first wife — and all his girlfriends."
Buddy Roemer Let's face it: The former Louisiana governor's third party presidential bid isn't going anywhere. He's clearly got a bone to pick with the Republican Party so why not let it out next month? It would at least give him a potential platform for his favorite pet issue: Campaign finance reform. And let's be honest: Colbert isn't going to keep booking him on his show forever. He could use another profile booster.
Arnold Schwarzenegger The idea of the Governator assisting the Obama campaign got a boost this afternoon with The Wall Street Journal's Erica Orden's scoop that Schwarzenegger was approached by the White House before his term as California governor ended in 2011 about joining Obama's cabinet. "The entreaty to the centrist Republican governor wasn’t completely out of the blue," she writes. "Mr. Schwarzenegger, who was in office for more than seven years and continues to promote his vision of 'post-partisanship,' acknowledged earlier in his career that he’d welcome a cabinet post." Orden doesn't report why Secretary Schwarzenegger never came to fruition. Though Schwarzenegger ran for governor as a Republican, he's always stayed close to Democratic circles through his wife Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy family. (She endorsed Obama in 2008 just days after he endorsed McCain). Whatever happened in those talks in 2011, since then Schwarzenegger and Shriver split in July 2011 and Schwarzenegger has gone back to his acting career. But, hey, The Expendables 2 opens on August 17, and maybe a primetime appearance two weeks later will be just the thing to give it box office legs.