But out of all these endorsements, it's the large number of opinions from prominent conservatives that are the most surprising, and may have the most pull with remaining undecided voters. Here then is a list of the ten most important conservative endorsements for Obama, and why they make the list.
10. Andrew Sullivan.
What he said: "Obama’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us."
Why It's Important: Sullivan, a gay conservative blogger and author of the book "The Conservative Soul", once supported the Bush administration but was one of the first conservatives to do a mea culpa and become a strong Bush critic. He's consistently said that Bush government has betrayed conservative principles such as fiscal responsibility, moral leadership, and a cautious foreign policy - and he convincingly argues that Obama is the much better conservative candidate than McCain. He's also a fierce critic of McCain's campaign and Sarah Palin. Sullivan writes a much longer endorsement of Obama today here.
9. Francis Fukuyama.
What he said: "It is hard to imagine a more disastrous presidency than that of George W. Bush. It was bad enough that he launched an unnecessary war and undermined the standing of the United States throughout the world in his first term. But in the waning days of his administration, he is presiding over a collapse of the American financial system and broader economy that will have consequences for years to come. As a general rule, democracies don’t work well if voters do not hold political parties accountable for failure. While John McCain is trying desperately to pretend that he never had anything to do with the Republican Party, I think it would a travesty to reward the Republicans for failure on such a grand scale."
Why It's Important: Fukuyama was a key formulator of the Reagan Doctrine of resistance to the Soviet Union during the cold war, and an important founder of the Neoconservative movement and later critic of George W. Bush's foreign policy. He writes his endorsement in November 3rd's edition of The American Conservative, a magazine co-founded by Pat Buchanan that argues for traditional conservative values and anti-interventionism.
8. Kenneth Duberstein.
What He Said: "I think it [the choice of Sarah Palin] has very much undermined the whole question of John McCain’s judgment. You know what most Americans I think realized is that you don’t offer a job, let alone the vice presidency, to a person after one job interview. Even at McDonald’s, you’re interviewed three times before you get a job."
Why It's Important: Duberstein is the former Chief of Staff for Ronald Reagan and a McCain advisor. There's no one more revered in the Republican Party than Reagan, so this is almost as if Reagan himself were to come out against McCain. This is the classic example of supporters "fleeing the sinking ship." Though not well known to the public, Duberstein is another big name "hit" criticizing McCain and Palin on the news shows the Sunday before election day.
7. Semi-endorsements from Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and David Brooks
What Krauthammer Said: "Krauthammer's Hail Mary Rule: You get only two per game. John McCain, unfortunately, has already thrown three.... [Obama] has been moderate in policy and temper... Obama has shown that he is a man of limited experience, questionable convictions, deeply troubling associations (Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Tony Rezko) and an alarming lack of self-definition -- do you really know who he is and what he believes? Nonetheless, he's got both a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament. That will likely be enough to make him president."
What David Brooks Said: It is easy to sketch out a scenario in which [Obama] could be a great president.
Why It's Important: The three great Republican conservative media apologists have all flirted with Obama. According to my reader, Krauthammer's decided to clarify his earlier praise of Obama and officially endorse McCain. David Brooks wrote a piece in the New York Times that stopped just short of endorsement. George Will was one of the first to encourage Obama to run and hasn't made an official endorsement. Unlike the usual political season where it's all partisan all the time, these three have all had more than the usual kind words for Obama.
6. Peggy Noonan.
What She Said: "He [Obama] has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief.... There is something else. On Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, Mr. Obama won the Alabama primary with 56% to Hillary Clinton’s 42%. Birmingham, 1963, and the water hoses used against the civil rights demonstrators. And now look, the black man thanking Alabama for his victory.
This means nothing? This means a great deal."
Why It's Important: Of all the writers and opinion-makers on the Right, I think it is Peggy Noonan, regular contributor to the Republican-leaning Wall Street Journal and former Reagan speechwriter, who wields the biggest pen. She may infuriate us Democrats, she may get under our skin and we may want to dismiss her snarky support of all things conservative, but she writes with grace, humor, and penetrating insight, and when she makes a point, even liberals who don't like it have to step back and re-assess. She is perhaps the most true of conservatives with the most true editorial compass. She may worry about Democrats in all branches of government, but when she says Obama will be the better President, it's worth listening to why.
5. Chicago Tribune.
What They Said: "It is, though, hard to figure John McCain these days. He argued that President Bush's tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, but he now supports them.... McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate--but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served.
We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus.... He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren't a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.... We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States."
Why It's Important: Many conservative newspapers are endorsing Obama. And yes, the Tribune is Obama's hometown newspaper. But the Tribune has NEVER endorsed a Democrat in its 160 year history. And being the hometown paper, the Tribune can reassure voters, telling them that they really know what Obama is like.
4. Scott McClellan.
What He Said: "From the very beginning I've said I'm going to support the candidate who has the best chance of changing the way Washington works and getting things done. I will be voting for Barack Obama."
Why It's Important: Scott McClellan was W. Bush's first press secretary. A loyal Republican who met Bush in Texas, McClellan came to the White House with Bush and perhaps more than anyone had insight into the workings of the Bush White House. Since he published a book critiquing the administration earlier this year, perhaps the endorsement comes as little surprise. But as an unassuming, life-long Republican who's been disillusioned by his party these past five years, McClellan -- more than Joe the Plumber -- speaks intelligently for many ordinary Republicans and party faithful.
3. Richard Lugar.
What He Said: "[Obama] correctly cautions against the implication that hostile nations must be dealt with almost exclusively through isolation or military force. In some cases, refusing to talk can even be dangerous.”
Why It's Important: While McCain ridicules Obama's foreign policy as naive, Lugar, a senior member of the Senate's foreign relation committee, makes a powerful case that Obama's approach is essential. While not an endorsement for President (yes, he DOES back McCain), it comes as close as possible without abandoning his party. Chuck Hagel is another Senior Republican flirting with Obama, and Hagel's wife has announced her endorsement of Obama. Obama has frequently called on Lugar on the campaign trail and used his comments without protest from Lugar. Lugar could be the best example of Obama reaching across the isle to include respected Republicans, as well as senior conservative foreign policy advisers, in his White House.
2. The Economist and The Financial Times.
What They Said:
The Economist: "On the financial crisis [Obama's] performance has been as assured as Mr McCain’s has been febrile.... [Obama] seems a quick learner and has built up an impressive team of advisers, drawing in seasoned hands like Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers."
The Financial Times: "This ought to have been a close call. With a week remaining before the election, we cannot feel that it is. A campaign is a test of leadership. Mr Obama ran his superbly; Mr McCain’s has often looked a shambles... We applaud [Obama's] main domestic proposal: comprehensive health-care reform. This plan would achieve nearly universal insurance without the mandates of rival schemes: characteristically, it combines a far-sighted goal with moderation in the method."
Why It's Important: With the economy the number one issue for voters, it's worth noting that the world's two most respected conservative economic papers support Barack Obama. If no other reason for supporting Obama should impress voters, this should be it.
1. Colin Powell.
What He Said: "I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that's what we'd be looking at in a McCain administration... I think [Obama]is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming ... onto the world stage and on the American stage. And for that reason, I'll be voting for Sen. Barack Obama."
Why It's Important: Powell, perhaps the most respected Republican and a top name for Independent voters, gave a comprehensive and forceful argument for Obama. Polls showed a definite move towards Obama after the endorsement. If anything stopped McCain's expected closing "tightening" of the race, this was it.
Of course, as soon as a conservative criticizes Bush or McCain or comes out with an endorsement of Obama, they are no longer considered a conservative by the remaining faithful. When Christopher Buckley, scion of William F. Buckley and editor of the National Review, came out with his endorsement of Obama, he was subsequently kicked off the National Review.
So who is crossing the aisle to endorse McCain? McCain's advisers might be quick to trot out his old friend, Joseph Lieberman. But Lieberman really ISN'T a Democrat, by his own admission - he officially left the party two years ago. Everyone on this list, as far as I know, is still Republican, even if the remaining True Believers want to throw them out of the party. But then, this is why the Republican party is getting smaller, in more ways than one.
That's why I need to add an update with an eleventh endorsement.
#11. Jeffery Hart
What He Said: Republican President George W. Bush has not been a conservative at all, either in domestic policy or in foreign policy. He invaded Iraq on the basis of abstract theory, the very thing Burke warned against. Burke would have been appalled at the blindness to history and to social facts that characterized the writing of those so-called conservatives....
Obama did understand...while he was still a state senator in Illinois, he said: “I know that a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, of undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences....I’m not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”
Burke would have agreed entirely, and admired the cogency of so few words.... It seems clear to me that Obama is the conservative in the 2008 election.
Why It's Important: Hart, a former Reagan speechwriter, conservative professor emeritus at Dartmouth, and founder of the conservative Dartmouth Review, has trained many prominent conservative minds. Hart makes clear that it's Bush and McCain who have left conservativism and that in the end, it's Obama who is the only real conservative in this election.