Democrat Barack Obama approves of reaching across party lines to end partisan rancor -- but endorsing a Republican senator's re-election bid is a step too far.
US Senator Gordon Smith, an anti-Iraq war Republican running for a third term in the liberal state of Oregon, has a new campaign ad out that implies he has the backing of the Democratic White House hopeful.
"Who says Gordon Smith helped lead the fight for better gas mileage and a cleaner environment? Barack Obama!" the soothing female narrator declares, before invoking praise from Oregon's Democratic governor, Ted Kulongoski.
"I approve working together across party lines," Smith concludes.
It is believed to be the first attempt by a Republican to ride on Obama's popular coat-tails. Attack ads from the party of presidential contender John McCain, portraying Obama as inexperienced and liberal, are more the norm.
In a statement late Tuesday, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said: "Barack Obama has a long record of bipartisan accomplishment and we appreciate that it is respected by his Democratic and Republican colleagues in the Senate.
"But in this race, Oregonians should know that Barack Obama supports (Democratic challenger) Jeff Merkley for Senate. Merkley will help Obama bring about the fundamental change we need in Washington," he said.
A Rasmussen poll early this month in the west-coast state of Oregon had the moderate Republican beating Merkley by 47 percent to 38 percent in November's congressional elections.
The same poll, however, had Obama beating McCain 46-38 percent in Oregon. In Portland last month, the Democrat attracted the biggest crowd of his entire primary campaign when 75,000 people came to an open-air rally.