The Obamacans and McCainocrats

Today, an Obamacan was born.

Former Congressman Jim Leach -- an Iowa Republican who, as chair of the House Banking Committee, investigated the Whitewater scandal -- endorsed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, officially announcing his intention during a conference call launching "Republicans for Obama," a group that is designing a Web site contrasting the records of the presidential candidates.

"An awful lot of Republicans are more than slightly disgruntled at the direction of the country, more than slightly disappointed at the large deficits and at our foreign policy adventurism," Leach told ABC News. "This is the first time I have ever endorsed a Democrat but I think we're at a juncture in our history that we've got to put the national interest ahead of the party interest."

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Leach was joined on the call by two other Republican opponents of the Iraq War: former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee and Rita Hauser, a lawyer who served on President George W. Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the president's Intelligence Oversight Board.

Chafee, who left the GOP in March so that he could vote for Obama in the Rhode Island Democratic primary, criticized Sen. John McCain for changing his stance on the Bush tax cuts.

"I served with McCain and we were the only two Republicans to vote against the Bush tax cuts," said Chafee, referring to a Senate vote in 2001. "He says now he would make them permanent. It's a different John McCain."

During a town hall meeting in York, Pa., today, independent Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman, an admitted McCainocrat, introduced the Republican White House hopeful.

"It's important whether you're a Democrat or a Republican," the Connecticut senator said. "But there's something much more important than that, and that is the fact that we are all Americans."

With so many voters seeking an end to partisan gridlock, both Obama and McCain have long been delivering a message of uniting the country. And they have remarkably equal appeal across the aisle --13 percent of Democrats say they're likely to vote for McCain; 13 percent of Republicans prefer Obama.

"I just want to say I have a record of reaching across the aisle and working with my friends, whether it be Joe Lieberman or Ted Kennedy," said McCain, who has broken with his party on controversial issues such as campaign finance reform, global warming and, most recently, immigration reform, for which his support almost cost him the Republican nomination.

In the Senate, Obama has teamed up with Republicans on important issues such as working to secure nuclear weapons and ethics reform, but neither had caused him any serious political trouble with voters.

When asked in June whether he had taken any political risks by reaching across the aisle, Obama argued that "any time that you actually try to get something done in Washington, it entails some political risks."

ABC News' Teddy Davis, Hope Ditto and Rigel Anderson contributed to this report.

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