- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s campaign in Maryland is attracting volunteers from an unusual source — Republicans.

Daniel B. Chance, a retired oil man, voted for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the state’s Republican primary in the morning and then spent the afternoon making calls from the phone bank at the Obama campaign”s Baltimore County headquarters in Towson.

He joined a mix of registered Republicans and recently converted Democrats making calls on behalf of Mr. Obama, the junior U.S. senator from Illinois.

Mr. Chance, 86, said he voted for Mr. Huckabee because the candidate was the “best of the worst” on the Republican ballot. He then extolled the virtues of Mr. Obama, whom he described as educated, honest and a visionary with a plan.

“We need a change of leadership,” Mr. Chance said. He said Mr. Obama’s rival for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, would “bounce from one end to the other. You don’t know what to believe when she talks.”

Across the table from Mr. Chance sat Judith Plunkett, 51, who was a registered Republican for more than 30 years before she switched to Democrat to support Mr. Obama.

“He’s a very special person,” said Mrs. Plunkett, a paralegal. “I decided it just wasn’t good enough to hope he would make it to the general [election], so I switched my party affiliation.”

Nicole Price, the Obama campaign’s Maryland political director, said she arrived in the state a couple of weeks ago to discover a home-grown campaign already thriving.

She noted that Obama supporters had put up more yard signs in Maryland than in South Carolina, and they had paid for the signs themselves.

“There is a real grass-roots effort here in Maryland that we didn’t put together,” Ms. Price said.

Crossover support for Mr. Obama, who also is popular among independent voters, was evident in earlier contests.

In Louisiana, where he won by a wide margin, exit polls showed that Republicans who voted in the Democratic primary favored Mr. Obama 3-to-1 over Mrs. Clinton.

About 5 percent of the voters in the primary said they were Republicans.

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