Lieberman: McCain Has 'Better Judgment' Than to Name Him VP

By Fred Lucas | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

Portsmouth, N.H. ( - "I think John has much better judgment than that," Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut jokingly told Cybercast News Service on Thursday when asked whether Sen. John McCain might name him his vice presidential candidate. Lieberman was stumping here for McCain, whose presidential bid he has endorsed.

Some McCain supporters in this state wish McCain would consider Lieberman. While attending a John McCain event in December, Paul Brooks of Salem, N.H., recalls telling the Republican senator that Lieberman would be a great choice for vice president. According to Brooks, McCain responded, "That's worth considering."

Lieberman made three campaign stops on Thursday for the resurgent McCain, who is now tied with or ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in most New Hampshire polls.

Lieberman spoke for McCain at the Brown Bag Deli in Concord Thursday morning and later at Harvey's Bakery in Dover, N.H., where a McCain supporter held up a sign reading, "The Mac is Back."

Lieberman made his final stop for McCain in downtown Portsmouth, where about 40 people gathered at the River Run Bookstore.

He praised McCain's commitment to national security and McCain's firm stances in the war on terrorism, his willingness to work across party lines, and his reputation as a budget hawk.

"I have universal credibility in saying this," Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic nominee for vice president, told to the crowd. "John McCain is the most electable candidate the Republican Party could nominate this year."

Lieberman was reelected to his Senate seat in Connecticut as an independent in 2006 after losing the Democratic primary to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont. Although Lieberman caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, he is considered a maverick on many issues, including national security matters. McCain, too, has deviated from his own party line on various issues.

It's their willingness stray from partisan dogma that had several people at the Portsmouth event clamoring for a McCain-Lieberman ticket in the fall. But Lieberman said in an interview, "I've tried that already. I just want to be a senator now."

Asked if he would speak at the Republican National Convention if McCain is nominated, Lieberman said, "We'll see."

"Both men are principled and gentlemen and they are realistic," said Rebecca Dunn of Portsmouth. "Global issues are setting the agenda, not Republican or Democrat. People see that. That's why we need a McCain-Lieberman ticket."

Lieberman endorsed McCain early last month, surprising many and drawing a rebuke from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

In addition to their insistence on winning the war in Iraq, McCain and Lieberman have worked together on bipartisan bills in the past. The two co-sponsored a bill making it official U.S. policy to depose the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Then-President Bill Clinton signed the bill. They also have co-sponsored legislation regarding global warming.

"He was raised in a family where service to your country was taught," Lieberman said at the bookstore.

"He is a person tested in a way none of us will be and hope no one close to us will be," Lieberman continued, referring to McCain's storied prisoner of war experience in Vietnam.

Lieberman also praised McCain's fiscal responsibility, calling him "a conservative in the best sense of the term, in watching how government spends other people's money." McCain is an outspoken critics of "earmarks," or pork-barrel projects inserted into must-pass bills.

"He said he didn't go to the senate to be Miss Congeniality and he succeeded," Lieberman said to laughter. "He's not afraid to say a project a senator asks for is a waste of taxpayer money."

The Lieberman endorsement was a boon for the McCain campaign, said McCain supporter Joe Ripel of Kensington, N.H.

"The Joe Lieberman endorsement was just wonderful," he said. "I'd like to see him as McCain's VP. They would be a great pair."

Ripel's wife Alma admitted it would be unconventional for someone to be the Republican vice presidential candidate, just eight years after running for vice president as a Democrat. But she added, "It just means he got smart."

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