Republican Jim Leach: ‘This is not a time for politics as usual’

By Rod Boshart – Former GOP congressman Jim Leach last night called for raising American priorities above partisan politics in crossing the aisle to support the opposing party’s presidential nominee at its national convention.

Leach, who served 30 years in the U.S. House as an Iowa representative, said current challenges call for a new generation of leaders with new ideas that transcend partisanship to recapture the American dream and endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as such a leader.

“America has seldom faced more critical choices,” Leach said in addressing the Democratic National Convention – including some delegates who appeared unsure about welcoming a Republican to the rostrum for a televised message.

“The portfolios of challenges passed on to the next president will be as daunting as any since the Great Depression and World War II. This is not a time for politics as usual or for run-of-the-mill politicians. Little is riskier to the national interest than more of the same,” Leach said.

During his speech, Leach pointed to past examples of progressive thinkers within both political parties and took Republicans to task for gravitating from individual rights to regulating values, undercutting treaties, abdicating environmental stewardship and fiscal restraint, and “squandering our precious resources in an undisciplined and unprecedented effort to finance a war with tax cuts.”

Leach was introduced to the convention delegates by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who paid tribute to Iowa’s strong two-party system, and after the speech he was greeted by a hug from Iowa delegate Dick Myers from Iowa City, a handshake from former Iowa Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack and posed for a photo with 1st District U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa.

A short time earlier, delegates heard remarks from Candi Schmieder, a mother of three from Marengo who praised Obama’s inspirational ideas for getting her politically involved for the first time and motivating her to go back to college to finish her degree and pursue public service.

“Yes, Sen. Obama inspired me with his words, but then he motivated me with his good, solid plans for action,” said Schmieder, a first-time precinct captain who was chosen by the Obama campaign to speak as a voice of everyday Americans.

“I can’t even say this experience is like a dream coming true because I never allowed myself to dream so big. I am here today because of Sen. Obama,” she told the convention.

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