Sarah Baxter in The Times:

WHAT do the daughter of Richard Nixon, a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and the son of Milton Friedman, the monetarist economist, have in common? They are all Obamacons: conservatives, Republicans and free market champions who support Barack Obama, the Democratic party nominee, for president.

The Obama campaign has a sharp-eyed political operations team tasked with seeking out prominent endorsers “on both sides of the aisle”, according to a campaign official. It came tantalisingly close to securing one of the biggest names in politics when Colin Powell, secretary of state during President George W Bush’s first term in office, said last week that he might vote for Obama.

Powell said Obama and John McCain, his Republican opponent, “have the qualifications to be president, but both of them cannot be”. He added that he would neither vote for Obama because he was African-Ameri-can nor for McCain because of his military service but for the individual who “brings the best set of tools to the problems of 21st-century America . . . regardless of party”.

His argument was echoed by Peggy Noonan, a conservative commentator who wrote woundingly in The Wall Street Journal last week that: “Mr McCain is the old America, of course; Mr Obama the new.” Although she did not explicitly back either candidate, she said: “America is always looking forward, not back, it is always in search of the fresh and leaving the tired. That’s how we started.”