Posted at 2:33 PM ET, 08/24/2008
Surprise GOP Speaker at Dem Convention: Jim Leach
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UPDATED 7:41 p.m. ET: The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) and the Obama for America campaign have confirmed that former Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) will speak Monday, the opening night of the convention, themed "One Nation." But Leach won't be the only Republican to address the convention: Fairbanks Alaska Mayor Jim Whitaker will take to the podium Tuesday evening to offer his take on "Renewing America's Promise."
Just as the Republican Convention will showcase Sen. Joe Lieberman, Democrats have found their own former party rival to deliver a prime-time speech here at the Democratic National Convention: Jim Leach, the former GOP congressman from Iowa who has endorsed Barack Obama for president.
Leach is scheduled to speak at 10 p.m. ET Monday, the opening night of the convention, according to a copy of the official lineup of convention speakers obtained by The Sleuth. He's sandwiched somewhere between Michelle Obama's brother, Craig Robinson, and Caroline Kennedy, who will be delivering a tribute to her ailing uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who has brain cancer.
Leach, 65, made a surprise announcement on Aug. 12 that he was crossing party lines to endorse Obama, saying, "This is simply not a time for politics as usual." On that day, he and former GOP senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, among others, announced the formation of Republicans for Obama.
The Democratic National Convention hasn't yet announced that the former Republican congressman will be speaking from the podium and he he isn't yet listed on the public schedule.
Leach, a moderate who was first elected to the House in 1976, served for three decades until he was defeated by a Democrat in 2006.
His prominent role could be a bit of a sore subject with the Clinton crowd. During the Clinton administration, Leach, who was then chairman of the House Banking Committee, launched an investigation into President and Mrs. Clinton's investment in the Whitewater land deal.
At least Leach won't be speaking on the same night as Sen. Clinton. She is scheduled to speak at the convention late Tuesday night, while her husband, Bill Clinton, is slated to give his address Wednesday at 9:30 pm ET.