According to Politico, the reason the President is doing this is to box in the GOP:
Between high-profile conversions from the Northeast to the Midwest to the Rocky Mountain West — not to mention Obama’s warm relations with the nation’s two most prominent moderate Republican governors, California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger and Florida’s Charlie Crist — it’s beginning to look like a strategy that isolates conservatives, reinforces the impression that the GOP is defined by the borders of the Deep South and all the while underscores Obama’s stated goal of working across party lines.
“Boxing the Republicans into a South-dominated party is very good strategy, because the more you reduce the Republican Party, the more conservative and reactionary it will become, and thus less attractive to moderates,” said Tom Schaller, a University of Maryland-Baltimore County professor and the author of “Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South.” “The Midwest and the Northeast are the places where there are still remnants of old-line Rockefeller Republicans. And these are the places where the Democrats will build durable majorities.”
To me, this makes perfect sense: pick off some of the more vulnerable Republicans, eliminate potential threats, weaken the opposition party and do it all the in the name of bipartisanship. Brilliant.
Some might not want to believe that Obama could be that calculating ala Karl Rove, but face it, this is politics and any politician wants to optimize their political power. Karl Rove was roundly criticized for the tactics he employed, but in a way he was doing what any politico regardless of party tries to do: make sure the party wins. The only difference is that Obama might do it with more a smile.
That said, Obama is only taking advantage of an opportunity. The GOP has made it very hard for anyone who doesn't toe the rigid conservative line to want to stay in the GOP. When a far right candidate like Pat Toomey, who doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell to win in very blue Pennsylvania decides to challenge Arlen Specter, when a prominent blogger decides to stage a boycott of the National Republican Senatorial Committee because they decided to support the moderate Charlie Crist in the race for a Senate seat in Florida, when the head of the Republican National Committee muses about witholding funds from three Senators because they voted the "wrong way" on a bill and when a talk radio host dresses down a veteran and longstanding Republican like Colin Powell, it's pretty easy to see why some would want to jump ship.
It's been said before, but the biggest enablers of the Democrats have not been the so-called Republicans in Name Only or RINO's, but intolerant conservatives who say "my way or the highway."
Way to go, guys.