"Monica Green: A Republican for Obama"
Monica Green votes, always, and has been a Republican as long as she can remember. She's never, however, been excited enough about a candidate to invest herself in a campaign. That changed for her earlier this year, and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is, in a political sense, her first love.
Electability in the caucuses is a big issue, and Green is one of 268 Iowa Republicans who earlier this week came out publicly in support of Obama. PoliticsIowa talked to Obama's Ankeny precinct captain about her political transformation, and how many others like her she believes are in the state.
Tell me a bit about your political history.
"I can't remember ever being registered as anything other than a Republican... I've never been politically active. The only thing I've ever done is very local and for friends... I have voted for Democratic candidates, but truthfully it was because I was voting against someone rather than I was really supporting someone.
"I did vote...for [former president Bill] Clinton both times because he gives a really good speech [laughs], but I'm almost ashamed to say I voted for Bush twice because I couldn't vote Democratic either time."
What was your mindset in 2000 and 2004?
"I actually was for Bush in 2000. That wasn't a difficult year."
"[In 2004], I can remember standing at the voting booth saying, ‘what am I going to do?' Because I don't think either of these men should be president of our country... I didn't believe in either candidate, so I voted Republican because that's my fall-back."
What made you a Republican in the first place?
"Because I think the basic philosophy that I believe in is less government, less taxes, and fiscal responsibility. And it's just always been kind of the overriding belief that those are the three things that characterize Republicans."
What made Bush lose you?
"The revelation that all of the information leading up [to] thinking we needed to go to war in Iraq were all lies... I mean, I always felt like he wasn't going to ever be a strong president, but I just hoped he would surround himself with the right advisers...like Colin Powell, people who could lead him in the right direction. But he didn't do that."
What really hooked you into Obama's campaign?
"[W]hen he came on to speak after the State of the Union address, it caught my attention... He basically went through a laundry list of what he disagreed about what the president said, but there was nothing negative stated. It was all positive. And this has been my biggest complaint for probably the last two decades of politics is it's so negative... And I thought, ‘wow, this is somebody I want to hear more about.'"
Are you becoming a Democrat, or is this just about Obama?
"[T]hat's a very interesting question. It started out just being about Obama... I look at things differently now than I did eight years ago or 10 years ago... I think I'm changing. I think that as I'm listening to the senator with his messages, he is so clear, he is so intelligent... [H]e makes so much sense to me that I think it's changing my views."
Who were some Republicans with whom you have identified?
"I thought Reagan was a strong president...I was totally in support of Reagan. He's probably the last one."
If the 1980 Reagan were running today, would you vote for him?
"You mean if he was running against Obama today? Oh my goodness. That's a good question... His views on Communism were probably not the view I would appreciate today. I've got a much more global perspective today, and Obama touches that."
Many of Obama's rivals take similar positions on Iraq, health care, and bringing the country together, and other things. Why is he the one that grabbed your interest?
"I think other candidates polarize on issues. I don't think he does that. I have a lot of friends and family who are Republicans. Some of them are saying, ‘well I still have to vote Republican, but if we have a Democratic president, I sure hope it's Obama.' And I went, ‘ok, keep going with that thought...'"
Do you feel like you're born again and trying to convert people?
[laughs] "Yeah I do! My sons were saying, ‘You raised us to be Republicans. Who are you?'"
The big question to those who follow this stuff is, are there enough Republicans thinking like you to matter in an election?
"It's been interesting, because the more I've been involved with the campaign the easier it's been to start... At first I was [whispering], ‘Well I'm really a Republican.' But now it's like, ‘I'm a Republican, and Sen. Obama needs to be our next president.' And you say that in a group of people, and three people say, ‘You know I'm Republican also, and I'm listening to him. Of anybody, I like what he says [and] I like what he stands for.'"
Would enough Republicans go through the difficulty of switching their registration to caucus for a Democrat?
"Yeah, because you only have to switch your affiliation for the one night. You can switch it the next day back if for some reason you don't want a ‘D' after your name. And you can do it at the caucus, so that's not hard."
What do you think of the Clinton campaign's argument that Sen. Obama is abandoning his hopeful politics and going negative?
"You can't just say, ‘I hope things change...' In a campaign you have to point out differences... Otherwise why would we have multiple candidates, and why would we have a campaign?"
You've said Obama will win the caucus. By how much?
"I do think it'll be close."
What's going to put him over the top?
"I think Republicans...caucusing for Obama are going to put him over the top... When you look at the polls, they're only polling Democrats. They've never asked me who I'm going to vote for in the Democratic caucuses."
Labels: barack obama