Sunday, October 26, 2008

Former GOP Senator joins the “Flight to Quality”

Politico and Talking Points Memo reported today that former South Dakota Republican Senator Larry Pressler voted by absentee for Obama.

It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, this will have on the vote outcome in So Dak. I travelled there last week, and outside of a scattershot of yard signs in and around the rapidly expanding Sioux Falls, there was scant evidence of any non-GOP support between there and Mitchell. SoDak is going to go Red, but things like this would suggest that it will be, as in North Dakota, much narrower than local pols are used to.

It seems in this case Prairie Populism, as much as anything, drove this vote.

Former Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), who was the first Vietnam veteran to serve in the United States Senate, is the latest Republican to back Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, Politico learned Sunday.

Pressler, who said that in addition to casting an absentee ballot for Obama he’d donated $500 to the Illinois senator’s campaign, cited the Democrat’s response to the financial crisis as the primary reason for his decision.

“I just got the feeling that Obama will be able to handle this financial crisis better, and I like his financial team of [former Treasury Secretary Robert] Rubin and [former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul] Volcker better,” he said. By contrast, John McCain’s “handling of the financial crisis made me feel nervous.”

The former senator added that he hoped the next president would help place restraints on executive pay, and said: “I don’t think [McCain] will take action in that area, or he’s as likely to.”

Pressler was out of the Senate before I really started paying attention, but he seems to fit the mold of a Chuck Hagel. Unless I missed it, Hagel hasn’t suggested who his vote will be for this election. He has certainly given ample indication that he wouldn’t be a surprising swing to Obama.

-J. Oak

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