August 25th, 2008
10:20 PM ET
6 years ago

Schneider: A glimpse of an endangered species

Former Republican Congressman Jim Leach addressed the opening night of the Democratic National Convention.
Former Republican Congressman Jim Leach addressed the opening night of the Democratic National Convention.

DENVER (CNN) - Jim Leach was a former liberal Republican. It’s an endangered and nearly extinct species. Most liberal Republicans have left the party. Many of them have become Democrats; many of them, like Jim Jeffords, have become independents.

This is very significant in the Northeast, which is the homeland of liberal Republicans, and where the Republican party is simply dying. Just as Republicans prospered by absorbing conservative Southern Democrats in the 1970s and 1980s. Democrats are now prospering by absorbing liberal Republicans in several parts of the country — primarily the East Coast, but also Iowa and parts of the West Coast. When Democrats say they want to appeal to “like-minded Republicans,” they’re talking about Republicans like Jim Leach.

This is important because it represents Obama’s effort to appear bipartisan. But Jim Leach is not exactly a symbol of the Republican party today.

Leach is extolling an old vision of bipartisanship that has been in danger of becoming extinct, and that Barack Obama is trying to revive.
What we’re hearing is a liberal Republican attacking his own party. It’s a nice bookend to Zell Miller’s famous attack on the Democratic Party at the Republican convention in 2004. Republicans have absorbed conservative Democrats like Zell Miller, Democrats are absorbing liberal Republicans like Jim Leach.

We can’t remember the last time a Republican spoke at a Democratic convention.

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. nick

    Can we say then everyone is Liberal!

    August 25, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  2. CJ

    WHY do we need a National bow to Michelle Obama and her family? What does this tell me about what kind of a president Barack Obama will be? TOO MUCH of this is non-substative, I am sincerely disappointed.

    August 25, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  3. Roseanne

    How come Schniender is doing the analysis???
    He is older than John McGoo!!!
    And his mind is almost as old!!!

    August 25, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  4. Professor

    Politically, I am a conservative Democrat – like Zell Miller. My family has historically voted for the Democrats in every Presidential election before 1970. In the 1970's however, the Democratic Party was simply overrun with evil. (Sorry, but I don't know how better to word this!)

    The Democratic Party all too frequently panders to anti-Christian groups, such as the sodomites and the abortionists. Because my loyalty to Jesus Christ exceeds my loyalty to the Democratic Party, I have voted Republican in every election since I've been old enough to vote.

    The Democrats need to purge themselves of these wicked groups and adopt wholesome, pure, and righteous positions on abortion and on same-sex marriages. Only then will the Democrats claim political victories in the United States.

    August 25, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  5. Adrian

    Wow if the Demecratic Convention goes this way the next 3 days McCAin may get a bump in the polls. Obama needs the Clintons to save the day

    August 25, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  6. conservative

    Well ;you search long and hard and you will find an aberration sooner or later!

    August 25, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  7. Dan

    As a former Republican myself, I am ashamed by corruption of my party. I am now registered as an Independent and haven't decide who to vote for.

    August 25, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  8. BrooklynDodger

    The point of tonight is to help Americans know the Obamas a little better, and to realize that they are not "elitist" but that they come from backgrounds much like ours – to dispel many of the myths that have been propagated by the GOP machine. Stop to think, what do you really know about McCain and his wife – their motivations, their characters, their perspectives?

    August 25, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  9. Tamara

    I can't believe I'm blogging for a Republican, but seeing former Congressman Leach at a Democratic convention greatly impressed me. I am already an Obama supporter and a stalwart Democrat, I can't imagine the fortitude it takes to switch allegiance against a lifetime of ties to the other party. I greatly respect the love of country that this represents, it would be so much easier to simply vote quietly and not go against your own party. I'm glad you were there tonight Congressman Leach.

    August 25, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  10. Proud Democrat

    Great Convention so far

    Please do not let the Clintons ruin it

    Go Bam/Biden

    NO Hillary or Bill they are old bad news

    August 25, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  11. RR

    Obama has one of THE most partisan voting records in the Senate and he's going to bring a spirit of BIpartisanship!

    What a joke!

    August 25, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  12. Modern American

    The Professor is a dying type of american, but he doesn't realize it. The rights of Gay marriage and freedom of female rights are what a free society should have. Male suppression and out dated undereducated modes of thinking will expire much to your dismay.

    A Liberal society is the future, a Conservative society is the past by the very definitions of the words.

    The wickedness is in your own heart my friend.

    August 25, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  13. Cynthia

    I know that now that nothing but Republicans are commenting on the blogs. No one can be this negative but a Republican talking about a Democratic function.

    August 25, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  14. Ken Burnside

    Jim Leach was no liberal. He was a wolf in sheeps clothing. I worked to help defeat him here in Eastern Iowa, somehow he comes off as this nice respected progressive. The Idiot backed almost everything that Bush did except the war in Iraq. and as for Adrian's comment– McCain will be wiped up and thrown in the garbage by Obama.

    August 25, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  15. Wake UP America

    The O-blah-blah-blahs blew it when Hillary was not even on the short list! Clinton's can't help him now... down the toilet, can you hear it flushing....

    August 25, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  16. Mike

    Jim Leach is a good mad who served his community, state, and country honorably for years. He should be respected regardless of one's ideology. I did not vote for Rep. Leach when I lived in his district, but I respected him. Our country must remember that civility, that respecting each other even if we disagree with each other, is essential to our prosperity. Thank you, Representative Leach, for your service to Iowa and the United States.

    August 25, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  17. Don of Fairfax

    I think one 17-letter word best describes the Democratic Party tonight . . . whatabunchofwimps.

    Vote McCain in 2008

    August 25, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Change is hard to accept but staying the course with John McCain aka George W. Bush is unacceptable.

    August 25, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  19. LEPAGE

    I AM VERY UPSET WITH CNN'S COVERAGE OF DNC CONVENTION.
    IT WAS SO NEGATIVEAND AFTER LISTENINGTO ALL YOUR COMMENTATORS ,THEY JUST KEPT DRONING ON AND ON ON THE SAME NEGATIVE POINTS..
    IWATCHED ON TV AND I CAN'T JUDGE FIRST NIGHT EXCEPT FOR TED AND MICHELLE , WHO WERE AMAZING.
    I DIDN'T GET SEE MUCH OF OF THE OTHER SPEAKERS ON THE FLOOR. I HAD TO LISTENTO YOUR COMMENTATORS, WHO NOW AE BECOMING A REAL DRAG. DID THEY NOTICE ANY REACTIONSFROM THE CROWD. JUST REPORT .I AM TIRED OF YOURINANEPERSONAL VIEWS. LET ME THINK AND MAKE MY OPINIONS

    August 25, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  20. Carl from MI

    He's a good man.... more Republicans should aspire to be like him.

    Remember... people are Republicans until they lose their jobs and houses or have to go bankrupt because of sky-high medical bills... then they become all for Democratically sponsored programs to help them in their time of disaster.

    Republicans= Money and Party BEFORE Country!!

    WAKE UP, AMERICA!! VOTE SMART, NOT SENILE!!!!!

    August 25, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  21. Good speeches

    Aside form Michelle Obama, Rep Leach gave the BEST speech of the night. You could feel how genuine he was. Brava, sir.

    August 25, 2008 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  22. PAW, CA

    After tonight I won't be able to remember the last time a republican spoke at a democratic convention either....because I wasn't allowed to hear it!! CNN made the decision for me....they cut away with snide little snickers by Gergen and Cooper insinuating he was boring....then the commentators spent the rest of the prime convention time telling the viewers that it wasn't what THEY wanted....maybe it was what I wanted.....I wanted to hear Pelosi also, but same thing, her speech was talked over and cut away from. We already know Carville wants Obama to "get mad"....so it's no surprise that he is disappointed that the gloves weren't taken off the first night....then like a dog with a bone, Cooper asked the same question multiple times of each person on the panel trying to get someone to say what a poorly planned evening this was....well, who would know....I wasn't allowed to watch most of it. CNN needs to get out of the way and let the convention be viewed.

    August 25, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  23. Tatjana

    So far a boring first day and one hasn't heard anything new or of any value.
    Always thought tthat Obama is a weak candidate and it appears the Democratic Party hasn't much to offer anymore.
    I am leaning to vote Republican this year and I won't even have to hold my nose.

    August 25, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  24. Raymond Duke

    After what the democrats pulled this election year they are also going to be endangeried species.

    August 26, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  25. Dylan in CA

    CNN's DNC coverage is downright dreadful... nearly as bad as Faux News.

    Thank God for MSNBC.

    August 26, 2008 03:10 am at 3:10 am |