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FixCam: Week in Preview -- Lieberman Endorses McCain

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will pick up the endorsement of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) this morning in New Hampshire, a sign that the Arizona senator believes he must broaden his appeal among independent voters to win the Granite State primary.

Lieberman, while widely reviled among his party's base for his outspoken support of the war in Iraq, remains a potent endorser in the eyes of moderate and independent voters. After losing a Democratic primary in 2006 due in large part to his unstinting backing of the war, Lieberman won reelection running a third-party bid as an "Independent Democrat".

Roughly 40 percent of the New Hampshire electorate is comprised of independent voters who don't declare a party affiliation and can vote in either party's primary on Jan. 8. McCain relied on a similar strategy in 2000 when he walloped George W. Bush in the state's primary.

While Lieberman's independent streak could help solidify McCain's appeal among unaffiliated voters, the duo's backing of the Iraq war could complicate that equation, according to John Weaver -- a longtime McCain adviser who left the campaign over the summer.

"At this stage every little thing matters as they're fighting for political survival," said Weaver. "McCain's growth room in New Hampshire isn't where the Union Leader could usually help -- on the right -- but instead among moderates and unaffiliated voters. This endorsement could help, unless the entire focus of it is Iraq."

Anti-Iraq sentiment in New Hampshire ran extremely strong in 2006, leading to the defeat of the state's two Republican congressmen. And it looks likely to continue into 2008, as Sen. John Sununu (R) trails former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) by double digits in most public polling.

McCain must hope that voters in New Hampshire focus on Lieberman's moderate leanings more generally rather than his (and McCain's) positioning on Iraq. The reality for McCain is that he must take a risk or two in New Hampshire. Polling shows him trailing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by double digits, and McCain won't have anywhere close to the resources of Romney in the final weeks of the campaign.

That means McCain must work for all the free media he can get. And the Lieberman endorsement is sure to win McCain coverage across the state and nationally today.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 17, 2007; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Thompson Gets Key Endorsement in Iowa

Comments

Lieberman has enough conscience, and threats from real Democrats, not to throw the Senate to Republicans now. Once control of the chamber no longer hinges on 1 seat, he'll be free to caucus with his real party.

Pro-war, pro-voucher, anti-affirmative action, constantly going out of his way to slam the Democratic Party and its base; how is this guy remotely liberal?? Going on Sunday morning TV in late 2000 to undercut Gore and say overseas military ballots sent after the deadline should still be counted? What the hell did that accomplish? What was he trying to do? McCain refused to run with Kerry and actively campaigned for Bush in 2004. Respect or not, endorsing someone in the opposing party is a big deal. Joe can't respect Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Biden, or even Dodd?? Zero out of five current and former colleagues? That can't just be explained away by personal respect for McCain.

Posted by: jon.morgan.1999 | December 18, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Senator Joe Lieberman is the Senator for Israel. He is not worth listening to. Put him in a home and dope him up on pills and then put him in front of a TV.

Posted by: robertjames1 | December 18, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I wonder why anyone would think Leiberman would in the future caucus with the Republicans? If he was going to switch, now would be the time to do it, when he would throw control of the Senate back to the Republicans, who would be so grateful as to give him an important committee.
With the exception of the war, Leiberman has been liberal on many issues.

Backing McCain is probably more a personal endorsement of someone who stands for integrity in politics. I don't support McCain. I disagree with him on many matters of policy. But he is respected for his drive to reform campaign laws.

Posted by: AlaninMissoula | December 18, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

The Israel Lobby, led in Congress by Sen. Joseph Lie-berman, its Zonist point-man in Congress, has been calling for the U.S. bombing of Iran every other week, dutifully doing the round of Sunday morning public affairs TV shows. The Neocons have not been deterred by the fact that bombing another country without provocation is an international crime of high order. According to the Nuremberg Charter, it is even a crime punishable by death.

Posted by: rmcnicoll | December 18, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman endorsing McCain is not that far short of Zell Miller endorsing Bush in 2004 (granted, Lieberman is not crazy in the head quite like Zell). If independents are attracted to McCain because of this endorsement, I'm guessing they're the same sliver of voters Bush won over with Spitball Zell Miller's support. Lieberman is considered more credible though, and is a fellow New Englander to New Hampshire voters.

Posted by: jon.morgan.1999 | December 18, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Lieberman endorsing McCain? No surprise here. John "kill em all and let God sort it out" McCain wants to blast Iran off the face of the earth and stay in Iraq for centuries. Lieberman is the tightest of the tight with the powerful Israeli lobby who wants the US to invade Iran. Like I said... no surprise here. As a decorated Air Force veteran, I'm tired of the gross misuse of our military. A soldier's life should only be lost in the protection of our nation. I'm also tired of our Constitution being treated like some quaint old museum artifact. Its time for a change. I'm voting for Ron Paul. I'm impressed by his fidelity to the Constitution, his voting record that shows he "walks the walk", and his honesty. Enough of the wrapped and plasticized machine politicians that the elite establishment's media tries to shove down our throats.

Posted by: ddruck | December 17, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman, Mr. Wonder Weasel, has shown his colors. I am convinced Gore lost because of him in 00'. Dynamic duo they were not, but Gore at least had substance. Why chosen is anyone's guess.
Alloying himself with McCain is just more down that same path. McCain is the most out of touch candidate and almost deserves sympathy. Well, as much as one can give a politician. Walking down the street in Bagdad in flak vest and Blackhawks overhead with roof top sniper cover and saying the place is secure has convinced me that this guy needs to retire. Not only is McCain too old for the job, but his alleged running mate will be incarcerated as president within 6 months. That VP person will not be of the people's choice, but the selection as a running mate. Does anyone vote FOR a VP? The USA is so screwed up right now by the Republican demogauge rule of the last 10 years with the worst in Bush II's reign, that we as the electorate must look for something else than the same old stuff.

Posted by: sd-mouth | December 17, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

It looks like the stage is set for an independent run for the White House in 08. A McCain/Lieberman ticket would offer American voters an oasis from the often meaningless political rhetoric offered by either the Democratic or Republican candidates. Weaning ourselves from the political wasteland that this election has become, would be a welcome relief for most voters.

Posted by: rgn1 | December 17, 2007 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman is an agent of Israel. Lieberman supported the war in Iraq resulting in 4000 dead US troops and 20000 injured because of Israel. Lieberman was shamelessly pushing for bombing Iran because of Israel.

Consider the outrageous hypocracy. Iran is at least 5 years away from building a single atom bomb (according to US intelligence). Israel has at least 200 atom bombs ready to be delivered. Yet, Lieberman wants us to bomb Iran, but continue to give Israel $4 billion each year. So, we are supposed to bomb Iran which is 5 years from building its first nuke, but we are supposed to give $4 billion each year to Israel that already has 200 nukes? Why doesn't the media point out this inconsistency? Because the American media (TV networks, newspapers, radio) is largely owned or controlled by Jewish Americans. As a consequence, Lieberman and other neocons continue to push pro-Israel agenda and the media supports with pro-Israel propaganda.

Posted by: jsd324 | December 17, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

The USA Today had an article stating that Liberman could be the number two on the GOP ticket if McCain wins the nomination. Joe would be the first person to run as Vice President on a Democratic ticket and Republican ticket and lose both times.

Posted by: rogden71 | December 17, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Local 'online news' source Minn Post has an article on the Lieberman endorsement. The author frames it as a move against Giuliani - to promote McCain as the better not-a-religious-nut candidate.

http://www.minnpost.com/stories/2007/12/17/386/the_hidden_politics_behind_liebermans_endorsement_of_republican_mccain


Included is other minutae about who endorsed Lieberman (Obama) and who endorsed Lamont (Edwards).

Posted by: bsimon | December 17, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

bsimon at 11:50A - You have given me food for thought.

Not only is JL one of a kind, he is following the neocon agenda and McC is not.

[There is a temporary coincidence in McC's support of the surge, but that was for tactical reasons, consistent with his oppo to all the neocon "strategic" blundering for 3 years.]

So maybe "Loony Lieberman"'s endorsement is a non-factor.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 17, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse


Go ahead McCain. A bride like that is hard to find nowadays.

She is reliable and trustworthy.

Don't let gossip upset you. Of course she is Independent/Democrat, nobody is perfect. It's all for the show.

The marriage will take place in AIPAC premises and will be celebrated by Kristol.

Best of wishes.

Have a nice honeymoon, and plenty of sweet little jerks.

Posted by: bekabo | December 17, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse


Go ahead McCain, the bride is Independent/Democrat, but that nothing. It's just for the show.

The marriage will take place in AIPAC with the whole NeoCon family.

Best of wishes. Have a nice honeymoon, and many many little sweet little nerds.

Posted by: bekabo | December 17, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Of course the Israel Lobby is supporting McCain.

Posted by: ravitchn | December 17, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I had heard that Lieberman was planning to be at Democratic convention in Denver in August 2008 - guess not so much now. Also, he must have given up any hope of being in the cabinet. Hope the Dems cut him loose come 2009 - no chairmanship, no caucusing, nothing.

Posted by: pojo68 | December 17, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Re: Lieberman endorses McCain: So what!

Posted by: dick-x | December 17, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman is the Senator representing the State of Israel (Likud). To the extent that neo-cons champion Israeli over American interests in the Middle-East, he is a neo-con.

Posted by: eyendall | December 17, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

This is not a classic cross-over endorsement with significance for the independent vote.

Lieberman and McCain are linked, both in the public mind and by this endorsement, by their vigorous support for the war. As other readers have noted, NH voters -- and this means the independents -- voted for Demos in 2006 in opposition to the war.

McCain does not enjoy anything close to the support among independents he had in 2000, in large part because of the war. This endorsement will not bring him much support among the independents, undecided or otherwise, in NH.

Posted by: c.askin | December 17, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

'The people who feel as you do about Lieberman were never going to vote for McCain anyway. ' I might have, under the right circumstances, JimD.

I agree with you on many issues -- but NO ONE in the Senate is more divisive, more bitterly R partisan than Leiberman. He won in CT because the republican party officially supported him. Rush Limbaugh endorsed him. Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity endorsed him -- Dick Cheney endorsed him. His republican opponent got something like 5% of the vote. Not only that, he lied about a great many things. Outright lies and deceptions. He caucuses with Democrats primarily as a spy.

And btw, since his wife became an extremely wellpaid lobbyist for the pharmaceutical and banking industries -- he is no longer 'liberal' on anything whatsoever.

Posted by: drindl | December 17, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman (I-Conn) not (D-Conn).

Posted by: nat22784 | December 17, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman was the GOP candidate in the last election. The bonafide Republican received minimal party support - the GOP threw its weight behind Joe-mentum. As Blarg noted, the GOP and indy vote, combined with his residual Democratic support, was how he pulled it off. He should not be seen as a Democrat, as the Democrats in CT nominated and supported someone else.

Posted by: bokonon13 | December 17, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

lieberman as well as the registers' endorsement will not aid it's intended candidates.lieberman is a closeted repug as much as craig is a closeted hetro. how well did it work for the register's last presidential endorsement?

Posted by: ninnafaye | December 17, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

JimD writes
"Lieberman won in Connecticut by a substantial margin. He is popular with moderate Republicans and conservative independents."

I think his last reelection was a fluke. He couples the foreign policy of neo-cons with a liberal social agenda. How many moderates - or conservatives - actually agree with such a policy combination? Joe is one of a kind; I don't think that his endorsement will effect a significant number of voters.

Posted by: bsimon | December 17, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I agree mostly with Claudia, but would just add that in this tough environment for republicans, thin gruel is better than none. McCain will get a little buzz from this endorsement when combined with the newspaper endorsements. The inescapable conclusion here, no matter how turned off the voters are, someone is going to win the NH republican primary.

Posted by: rich5 | December 17, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Lieberman did win Connecticut, but recent polls say that people, if given the chance, would go back and vote differently now. For Lieberman, being a moderate independent is only as different from being a Republican as he chooses to make it. Despite his liberal positions on other issues, he is alienating Democrats because of the war, and doesn't seem to care much at all.

Posted by: riff_raff17 | December 17, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Lieberman won in CT because there was effectively no Republican in the race. He got almost all of the Republican vote, and enough of the Democratic and independent vote to put him over the top.

This seems like ammunition for McCain's opponents. Republicans consider Lieberman a Democrat, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. McCain is now officially the Republican that Democrats want you to vote for. That's not going to play well with the party base. The endorsement might help him in NH, but I can't see it being useful anywhere else.

Posted by: Blarg | December 17, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

bsimon

Lieberman won in Connecticut by a substantial margin. He is popular with moderate Republicans and conservative independents. Remember we are talking about the Republican primary.

Posted by: jimd52 | December 17, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Certainly McCain will get a nice media bounce from this, but I seriously doubt that it wil have much of an impact in terms of drawing independents into voting for McCain in the Republican primary.

Independent voters in NH are overwhelming anti-war. The endorsement by a Senator widely viewed as a hawk on both Iraq and Iran (and whose endorsement statement focused on the war) isn't likely to convince many of them that McCain is their candidate - instead it actually reminds them of how strongly pro-war McCain has been.

If NH independents are going to be drawn to McCain, it will be based on other aspects of the McCain image -- the iconoclastic guy willing to take on special interests in DC and in the Republican Party (but that is precisiely what McCain plays down in his effort to win hard core Republicans).

A question that isn't being asked as often is what impact the Lieberman endorsement will have on Republican-identified voters. Will they respond positively to it -- based on the wide preception that Lieberman has staked out a strong pro-Bush, pro-war position, or will they take it as a "dangerous" sign that McCain is actually not to be trusted because he has shown a willingness to work with non-Republicans on issues?

What the Lieberman endorsement does is provide more sense of momentum for the McCain campaign -- following the Des Moines Register and Boston Globe and Manchester Union Leader endorsements, it may cause voters to take another look at a campaign they hd given up for dead. If he can continue this momentum in the next week's new cycle, then perhaps he can pull off a NH win or strong second -- as the other Republican campaigns continue to flail about. (Of course it is far from certain where McCain would go after NH..)

Posted by: terje2 | December 17, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

JimD writes
"This directly appeals to centrists more interested in a candidate's personal qualities and ending divisive partisanship."

I'm skeptical. Lieberman is a loon, which was apparent way back when Al Gore sunk his own presidential hopes by putting Lieberman on the ticket. I still like McCain as a candidate, but its despite Joe's endorsement, not because of it.

Posted by: bsimon | December 17, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

drindl,

The people who feel as you do about Lieberman were never going to vote for McCain anyway. There are a lot of middle of the road voters who would be impressed by a nominal (regardless of what the liberal base of the party says) Democrat endorsing a Republican Senator. This directly appeals to centrists more interested in a candidate's personal qualities and ending divisive partisanship.

Posted by: jimd52 | December 17, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

'Lieberman, while widely reviled among his party's base for his outspoken support of the war in Iraq, remains a potent endorser in the eyes of moderate and independent voters.'

CW, totally wrong. Talk to someone from CT -- who have a large case of buyer's remorse. He is reviled because all he is does is bash democrats -- a sellout, a traitor, a sock puppet and mouthpiece for cheney and neocons. He IS a NEOCON. Why that should help him among moderate and independent voters when 70% of the electorate wnats out of Iraq is completely absurd. Try to get out of the Beltway Bubble, CC and talk to someone other than the cocktail weenies.

'While Lieberman's independent streak' -- again, get it straight. He's not independent, he's a traitor, plain and simple. He ran as an antiwar canddiate in the primary, fooled CT voters, then flipped to the other side day after he won by treachery. I can get you quotes of his promisses he made during the primmary to get us out of Iraq immediately, if you'd like to become informed on the subject, rathr than just typing the tired CW.

Posted by: drindl | December 17, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

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