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GOP irony: Roskam reaching out for Obama voters
By Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/30/2008 12:01 AM

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U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam and Barack Obama agree on very little, if anything at all.

When Obama proposed legislation as a state senator in Springfield, it was often Roskam who would stand up on the other side of the aisle to criticize it.

Roskam was an early supporter of John McCain in the GOP primary this year, and Obama cut a TV ad for the Wheaton Republican's previous challenger, Tammy Duckworth, in 2006.

So many people considered it curious when Roskam established an Obama Voters for Roskam Web site and sent out related mailers appealing to Obama supporters in his run for a second term in the 6th Congressional District.

Campaign spokesman Matt Vriesema said Roskam is reaching out to Obama supporters because internal polling indicates they can hope to get a third of them to switch sides down the ballot.

"This election is not about party politics. It is about sending people to Washington who can get things done and a lot of people are looking to Congressman Roskam for that," Vriesema said.

Roskam's move to grab a hold of Obama's coattails marks the second DuPage Republican to do so this campaign season. State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale appeared in a TV ad for Obama praising his bipartisanship early in the primaries.

Democratic challenger Jill Morgenthaler said voters will not be helping Obama by voting for Roskam.

"He will spend his whole time undermining anything Sen. Obama wants to do," Morgenthaler said.

"To me, this is a desperate move in his behalf to fool the voters."

In response to Roskam's move, Obama took the official step of endorsing Morgenthaler Wednesday and blasted his old state Senate opponent.

"While we're pleased that Barack Obama continues to attract support from across party lines ... he believes Congressman Roskam would continue President Bush's failed policies and is supporting Jill Morgenthaler for Congress," said Obama spokesman Justin DeJong.

Vriesema said the flier and Web site are not meant to indicate an Obama endorsement. However, the Web site does feature an Obama quote from a debate on the state Senate floor in 2004.

The Obama quote says, "First of all, I am a member of the mutual admiration society with Senator Roskam. He is always terrific."

The quote came from a sparring match between Roskam and Obama over legislation the Chicago Democrat proposed to protect workers' overtime rights.

After praising Roskam - typical form for Senate floor debate - Obama said, "Having said that, have I said that he's wrong? I love him, but he's wrong."

Roskam opposed the overtime rules because he said they would chase businesses out of Illinois.