The Washington Times - August 26, 2008, 10:58AM

Barack Obama yesterday campaigned in Iowa specifically looking to attract Republican and independent voters to his cause, and the opening night of Democrats’ nominating convention in Denver included a speech by former Rep. Jim Leach, Iowa Republican, explaining why he’s backing the Democrat.

Leach was one of the most liberal Republicans during his time in the House, and his credentials as a spokesman lie squarely with the more liberal wing of the Republican Party. But today the Republican Main Street Partnership, the umbrella group for moderate Republicans, said their side of the Republican aisle is unlikely to bolt for Obama, mainly because John McCain turns out to be so great for them, and Obama does not.

“Republicans – particularly centrist Republicans – are united behind John McCain and will find little appealing in Senator Obama’s hyper-partisan record,” said the group’s president, former Rep. Charles F. Bass of New Hampshire.

And that underscores part of the difficulty for Obama: McCain’s problems really are far more on his right flank than on his left, and even those problems on the right appear to be shrinking, though that could all change with his upcoming vice presidential selection.

Meanwhile, McCain’s been handed an unbelievable gift: Thanks to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, he has an identifiable block of usually reliable Democratic voters, many of whom are clearly thinking about bolting.

The list of cross-over speakers McCain deploys at his convention next week should be fascinating.

Stephen Dinan, national political correspondent, The Washington Times