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Left And Right Politics

…plus the cream in the center.

As Obama and McCain battle for the Hispanic vote, a leading Latino backer of Hillary Clinton is crossing party lines to support the Republican presidential nominee.

In an interview Thursday, Miguel D. Lausell, a Puerto Rican businessman and longtime Democratic activist and fund-raiser, came out for Sen. McCain. While he said he doesn’t agree with all the policy positions of the Republican candidate and his running mate, Sarah Palin, Mr. Lausell added: “I find McCain to be a sound person and a man with a track record. I know where he is coming from.” Mr. Lausell had been a major backer of Bill Clinton and served as a senior political adviser to Sen. Clinton’s unsuccessful bid this year for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Mr. Lausell said he feels Sen. Obama “doesn’t really regard the Hispanic community as important.” Sen. Clinton won a large majority of the Hispanic vote in most primaries, and Latino voters are an important bloc in swing states such as Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.

Earlier this week, another prominent Clinton supporter, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, declared for the Republican nominee. Other former Clinton backers may be declaring for Sen. McCain in the days ahead, according to someone familiar with the situation.

Public-opinion polls in recent weeks also show that a potentially significant minority of Clinton voters from the primaries still haven’t decided whether to vote for Sen. Obama. If the Democratic nominee loses a large number of Clinton voters, it could prove crucial in a close presidential race.

A spokesman for Sen. Obama declined to comment on the move of some Clinton backers to the McCain camp.

Mr. Lausell cited several objections he has with Sen. Obama. “The U.S. is in a very difficult situation these days and I don’t want someone without experience at the helm,” he said. Mr. Lausell said he likes Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, but felt that if Sen. Obama was going to reach inside of Washington for a vice presidential running mate, he should have chosen Sen. Clinton, “who received 18 million votes” during the presidential primaries.

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