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November 11th, 2008
12:35 PM ET

How a Republican learned to love Obama and win Pennsylvania

Blake Cabot
Technology Entrepreneur

I’m a fiscal conservative, and have been a Republican all my life. Although the social values issues pushed by Republicans over the past two decades have never appealed to me, I believe in international trade and less government, as long as it’s not accompanied by a ballooning deficit. And I expect competence.

But there has been no accountability in the Bush Administration: After Abu Ghraib and the disasters of Iraq, Bush didn’t fire Rumsfeld or any other senior member of his staff. So John Kerry had my vote in 2004, though I wasn’t happy about it. And adding $5 trillion to the debt - as Bush has done - is not fiscally conservative.

McCain’s idea of lowering taxes for everyone across the board – when we’re already adding hundreds of billions of dollars of debt – pushed me over the edge. And then to have Republicans call Obama a socialist, while they were nationalizing a huge part of the national economy – well, that has nothing to do with the Republican Party that I grew up in.

By contrast, Obama’s take on issues made a lot of sense to me, and he was inspiring as a public speaker – especially his speech in Iowa about how this whole country needed drastic changes.

So I decided this was the election of my generation and signed up to go work for Obama in mid-summer. On September 13th, I headed to Camp Obama in Brooklyn. The camp felt very much like business school training, focusing on motivation, management techniques, and specific tasks to be done in the field. Ten days later I was on my way to Lebanon, Pennsylvania as a deputy field organizer.

Lebanon is a largely Republican county in the middle of the state. Once a German Dutch settlement, the area had gone from union Democrat to socially conservative Reagan Republican, and remained overwhelmingly white.

I stayed at the home of local volunteers who housed me for over six weeks. I would come back often exhausted late in the evening, but there was Don, waiting up for me, to make sure I was home safe and fill me in on what had been happening. Toward the end of the campaign, as the nights became longer and more grueling, I found myself getting back at 4 or 5 a.m. There was Don, more than once, waking up and giving me a hug. My host couple couldn’t have been more wonderful.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Blake Cabot • John McCain • Raw Politics