Leon Panetta himself was “once” a Republican Congressman representing the 16th District in California, back about 1973, but switched parties when he became “appalled” with the Republicans when Nixon had to resign over Watergate.
Chuck Hagel is another RINO who never had much party allegiance, much like former Florida Charlie Crist, who only recently changed from “Republican” to “Democrat”, probably one of the more honest actions he has undertaken in his career.
I kind of see a pattern here, the Current Regime reaching out for somebody who has SOME credibility for the job, and it just happens, most of them were at one time or another, associated with the Republicans in the past.
But of course, it was the party that left them, not the other way around.
Although he started off as a very liberal Republican, Panetta never served in office as a Republican. He worked for the ultraliberal RINO CA U.S. Senator Tom Kuchel (who was defeated in the 1968 GOP primary), then in Nixon’s HEW Department before working for the execrable RINO-turned-Democrat NYC Mayor Lindsay. Panetta then ran for office as a Democrat, defeating GOP Congressman Burt Talcott in 1976.