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GOP ex-Mass. gov. Weld backs Obama


CONCORD, N.H. — Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, a Republican, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president last Friday, citing the senator’s good judgment, “deep sense of calm” and “first-class political temperament.”

Weld said he’s never endorsed a Democrat for president before, but in the last six weeks or so, it became “close to a no-brainer.” Obama has a history of bringing Democrats, Republicans and independents together and is the best choice at a time when America’s standing in the world is at a low point, he said.

“It’s not often you get a guy with his combination of qualities, chief among which I would say is the deep sense of calm he displays, and I think that’s a product of his equally deep intelligence,” he said in a phone interview.

He insisted his endorsement was based on an assessment of Obama’s strengths, not Republican John McCain’s weaknesses.

“John McCain is a very good guy,” he said. “I do think the Republican Party has been playing on an increasingly small field in the last couple of elections.”

Weld joined other prominent Republicans endorsing Obama over McCain in the campaign’s final weeks, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and Scott McClellan, former press secretary to President Bush.

Charles Fried, solicitor general under President Reagan who has helped with McCain’s campaign, also recently said he voted for Obama, according to The New Republic.

Fried served on several of McCain’s campaign-related committees. He has written to the campaign to request his name be removed from the committees, the magazine reported. He said in the letter one reason for his decision was McCain’s choice for vice president, Sarah Palin.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said the campaign does not comment on private correspondence.

“I admire Senator McCain and was glad to help in his campaign, and to be listed as doing so,” Fried told the magazine, “but when I concluded that I must vote for Obama for the reason stated in my letter, I felt it wrong to appear to be recommending to others a vote that I was not prepared to cast myself.”

Weld announced his support at a news conference at Obama’s campaign office in Salem. Last year, he came to New Hampshire to campaign for another former Massachusetts governor, Republican Mitt Romney, who ended his bid for the presidential nomination in February.

Weld was governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997. Before that, he was U.S. attorney for Massachusetts under President Reagan and later led the criminal division of the U.S. Justice Department.

Two of his successors responded to the endorsement with a statement supporting McCain.

“John McCain stands head and shoulders above Barack Obama on the critical issues facing our country. McCain alone has the experience and judgment to jumpstart our economy, create good jobs and keep America safe in a dangerous world,” said former Govs. Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift, both Republicans. “As no less than Joe Biden has said, Barack Obama is not ready to lead. Bill Weld is entitled to his opinion, but we respectfully and strongly disagree.”

(Associated Press)