Republicans Speaking at Democratic Convention

Politico's Mike Allen reports that several Republicans are expected to speak at the Democratic National Convention next month.

Politico’s Mike Allen reports that several Republicans are expected to speak at the Democratic National Convention next month.

Advisers to President Barack Obama are scripting a Democratic National Convention featuring several Republicans in a prime-time appeal to independents — and planning a blistering portrayal of Mitt Romney as a heartless aristocrat who “would devastate the American middle class,” Democratic sources tell POLITICO.

According to convention planning documents, the three-night convention in Charlotte, N.C., early next month will seek to “[e]xpose Mitt Romney as someone who doesn’t understand middle class challenges” while also burnishing “the President’s image as someone whose life story is about fighting for middle class Americans and those working to get into the middle class.”


Convention planners are considering featuring a centrist Republican leader on at least two of the three nights. Nightly remotes from swing states may include a CEO or “major Republican.” On Wednesday night, a “notable GOP woman” is among the possible participants. And on the final night, Democrats may include a Republican leader — someone like former Sens. John Warner or Chuck Hagel — or a GOP woman.

“This segment would speak directly to independents, noting we are all ‘Americans first,’ ” the documents say. “Depending on the speaker’s background, the President’s military accomplishments might be highlighted.”

Thursday also may include a former military leader, perhaps paired with a former enlisted man or woman. “Ideally they would have witnessed first-hand the difficult decisions [Obama has] made,” the documents say. “A Republican leader would be ideal.”

The details are, to say the least, thin. But it’s certainly plausible that one or more prominent former Republican office holders will speak. It’s no secret that moderate Republicans are increasingly alienated by the party leadership. Several Republicans who either left elective office in disgust with the atmosphere in Washington (Hagel, Warner, Olympia Snowe) or lost tough primary battles (Richard Lugar, Robert Bennett, Mike Castle) or otherwise found unwelcome in the party (Lincoln Chafee, Charlie Crist, Arlen Specter, Jon Huntsman, Buddy Roemer) could all plausibly endorse Obama or at least speak at the convention arguing for national unity.

Of course, this sort of thing isn’t new. Zell Miller gave a fiery anti-Kerry speech at the 2004 Republican convention and Joe Lieberman endorsed his good friend John McCain last cycle.

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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. C. Clavin says:

    If that is true…and I doubt it…it shows cajones made of cast iron.
    What’s to say this person doesn’t get up and go off script?
    How do you control it? Is it a video feature?
    And the person would be branded a RINO for perpetuity.
    Good fodder for discussion.
    But again…I doubt it.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    But speaking of Huntsman…
    Chait is out with some conjecture that Huntsman Sr. is Harry Reid’s source on Romney’s taxes.

  3. CSK says:

    Hey, maybe Sarah Palin’s REALLY going to go rogue. She hates the Republican establishment, and this would garner her a LOT of attention.

  4. KansasMom says:

    @C. Clavin: Kos posted this last night. Very intriguing development.

  5. legion says:

    I’m wondering how many current Republican Congresscritters consider themselves _actual_ conservatives (rather than extremist nutballs) and are seriously considering jumping party lines… This could be a harbinger of a major power shift.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Of course, this sort of thing isn’t new. Zell Miller gave a fiery anti-Kerry speech at the 2004 Republican convention and Joe Lieberman endorsed his good friend John McCain last cycle.

    Bring back Zell Miller. His performance 8 years ago was a classic representation of an Angry White Guy. Only a Sarah Palin could top that rave-up.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    Nancy Reagan.

  8. PJ says:

    Reid’s source will speak at the Convention.

  9. PogueMahone says:

    Colin Powell, FTW!!

  10. Tsar Nicholas says:

    That’s a funny article.

    I literally laughed out loud as this part: “Democratic sources tell POLITICO.” Isn’t that like saying “six informs half-a-dozen that upside down they’re nine?”

    In any case, I doubt the GOP “leader” slot could be filled by John Warner, for the simple and obvious reason that Warner started to go senile back during the Elizabeth Taylor years and since then mostly has gone downhill. My money is on Arlen Specter, although it’s somewhat of a stretch to refer to him as a leader, and they’ll have to gloss over the fact that he helped get Sammy Alito onto the SCOTUS and later on in his career, you know, switched parties and officially became a Democrat. Hagel also is a definite maybe.

    For the “GOP woman” slot the main contenders obviously are Christie Todd Whitman and Olympia Snowe.

    The military thing will be the ultimate howler, though, for reasons so obvious and so ironic most “progressives” will miss them, like Michael Jordan circa 1994 against a curveball.

  11. Commonist says:

    Was Lieberman ever an actual democrat?

  12. A says:

    If John Warner speaks I think that will lock up Virginia for Obama.

  13. RSNSouth says:

    You’ve got a few errors concerning the status of some of the people listed.

    Lincoln Chafee did not lose the Republican primary the last time he contested one in 2006. He won his primary and was the GOP nominee that year, ultimately losing to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. He chose to run as an independent for Governor of Rhode Island and did not consider (at least publicly) seeking the Republican nomination.

    Charlie Crist did not lose the Republican nomination, either. He chose to withdraw from the contest and run as an independent when he fell behind Marco Rubio in the polls.

    I seriously doubt that Mike DeWine, who ultimately endorsed Santorum for the Republican nomination and is currently the Republican Attorney General of Ohio, will be anywhere near the Democratic Convention.

    Arlen Specter left the Republican Party in April of 2009, when he came to the (undoubtedly correct) conclusion that he would lose the Republican Primary to (now Senator) Pat Toomey in 2010. He became a Democrat then, and sought the Democratic nomination in 2010 (with the support of the Obama White House). He lost to Joe Sestak, who in turn lost to Pat Toomey.

    Buddy Roemer is still searching for a party that will have him, but I can’t imagine him being useful to the Democrats.

  14. James Joyner says:

    @RSNSouth: Thanks. There have been a string of solid Republican incumbents who lost their primaries and wound up leaving the party. In most cases, the Democrats took their seat. Not sure why I thought Chafee was among them; he ultimately won the primary with by a few points before losing in the fall. Crist and Specter left the party because they were going to lose the primary. I meant Mike Castle, not Mike DeWine.