Former Governor William Weld of Massachusetts is the latest Republican to cross over and support Democrat Barack Obama for president.
Weld held a press conference in Salem, N.H. to announce his endorsement. While Massachusetts is a slam dunk for Obama, neighboring New Hampshire is a competitive state.
Weld told the Associated Press that while he has never endorsed a Democrat for president before, his choice in recent weeks became "close to a no-brainer."
"It's not often you get a guy with his combination of qualities, chief among which I would say is the deep sense of calm he displays, and I think that's a product of his equally deep intelligence," he said.
Weld said his decision was not based on McCain's weaknesses. "John McCain is a very good guy," he said. "I do think the Republican Party has been playing on an increasingly small field in the last couple of elections."
In an earlier statement, Weld said, "Senator Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime candidate who will transform our politics and restore America's standing in the world. We need a president who will lead based on our common values and Senator Obama demonstrates an ability to unite and inspire. Throughout this campaign I've watched his steady leadership through trying times and I'm confident he is the best candidate to move our country forward."
Weld supported former Bay State Governor Mitt Romney during the Republican primaries.
This afternoon, the McCain campaign issued a statement from two other former Republican governors of Massachusetts, Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift.
“John McCain stands head and shoulders above Barack Obama on the critical issues facing our country," they said. "McCain alone has the experience and judgment to jumpstart our economy, create good jobs and keep America safe in a dangerous world. As no less than Joe Biden has said, Barack Obama is not ready to lead. Bill Weld is entitled to his opinion, but we respectfully and strongly disagree.”
Weld joins former Governor Arne Carlson of Minnesota, who announced his backing for Obama on Thursday.
In the Rasmussen Reports national tracking poll, which combines three days of surveying, Obama's support among Republicans is now higher than John McCain's among Democrats. Obama is backed by 12 percent of Republicans while McCain, whose political persona is all about being the maverick with bipartisan appeal, is backed by 10 percent of Democrats.
But with an increasing number of Republicans jumping ship, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer issued a strongly-worded rejoinder in an op-ed piece in today's Washington Post.
"Contrarian that I am, I'm voting for John McCain," he wrote. "I'm not talking about bucking the polls or the media consensus that it's over before it's over. I'm talking about bucking the rush of wet-fingered conservatives leaping to Barack Obama before they're left out in the cold without a single state dinner for the next four years.
"I stand athwart the rush of conservative ship-jumpers of every stripe -- neo (Ken Adelman), moderate (Colin Powell), genetic/ironic (Christopher Buckley) and socialist/atheist (Christopher Hitchens) -- yelling "Stop!" I shall have no part of this motley crew. I will go down with the McCain ship. I'd rather lose an election than lose my bearings."
UPDATE: Also today, the New Republic reported that Charles Fried, a Harvard Law professor who Weld put on the Supreme Judicial Court, had voted absentee for Obama and had removed himself from several campaign-related committees for McCain.
"I admire Senator McCain and was glad to help in his campaign, and to be listed as doing so; but when I concluded that I must vote for Obama for the reason stated in my letter, I felt it wrong to appear to be recommending to others a vote that I was not prepared to cast myself," Fried, solicitor general for President Reagan, told the magazine. "So it was more of an erasure than a public affirmation--although obviously my vote meant that I thought that Obama was preferable to McCain-Palin. I do not consider abstention a proper option."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.