Strange Bedfellows

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The Parma Republican Club has just finished a successful meeting and it's time for some dessert and decaf in honor of George Washington's birthday. One of the members has concocted a homemade cake covered with a red gel topping to celebrate our first President and the famous cherry tree he chopped down. Club president Pat Wright is chopping the cake into squares with a plastic fork.

As he watches her, Joe Borsuk's thoughts are focused on the race for the NEXT president --- specifically on the Democratic choices. As he weighs the differences between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Borsuk says there's something about Clinton that just rubs him the wrong way.

BORSUK: She just kind of scratches and gets on my nerves. It's one of those kinds of things. It's like an indescribable trait. I think that's the only way I can really put it.

Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chair Rob Frost is more succinct.

FROST: It’s almost a revulsion. It’s more visceral than it is about issues.

Case Western Reserve Political Science professor Alexander Lamis doesn't quite understand why Hillary Clinton provokes such emotional responses, but he says Clinton hating is a national pastime for many in the GOP.

LAMIS: I don't think there's any doubt about the observation that many people have made that Hillary Clinton unites Republicans. You hear it from people all over the country. I was talking to a friend in Mississippi, who's a very knowledgeable political observer there, and he says top Republicans have told him that if they nominate Senator Clinton, we will have no problem not only uniting the party, but energizing it.

Jack Boyle who heads the Solon Republican Club admits that the recent gains by Clinton's Democratic opponent have been a bit disappointing for some GOP members.

BOYLE: We've kind of anticipated Hillary's candidacy for the entire eight years of the Bush administration, and I will say, there's a little bit of confusion at this point about: what do we do if she's not the nominee?

He says some Republicans have even talked about changing their party affiliation for a day and voting for Clinton in the March 4th Democratic primary, just to make sure she would be the one their candidate would face in November.

BOYLE: I have heard of dozens of people saying that. Now, whether anybody does --- I'm sure a few will.

FROST: No, I have not heard that. Maybe people just don't want to admit it to me.

GOP Chair Rob Frost doubts many Republicans will try the crossover ploy to assure a Clinton nomination. Political expert Alexander Lamis agrees, but he says the fact that it's even being discussed points to an underlying issue.

LAMIS: What I think they're concerned about is that Senator Obama has drawn in a lot of Independents, and even some Republicans. And so, they see a much broader coalition behind him. … I think the bottom line for them is, they don't think they can beat Senator Obama as easily as they could Senator Clinton.

Parma Republican Club president Pat Wright says there may be some Republicans cynical enough to vote for Clinton on March 4th, but the idea is repugnant to her.

WRIGHT: That's not a fair way to wage an election. It should be the Democrats who make that decision. We shouldn't have any part in that. That's just a spoiling type of thing and it's just a bad philosophy.

One thing she says the Parma Republicans CAN agree on is that the George Washington cake was delicious. If only choosing a president was that simple.

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