Lieberman to Face 'Trouble' Re-entering the Senate

By Cheryl K. Chumley | July 7, 2008 | 8:27pm EDT

( - Joseph Lieberman's perceived flip-flopping on certain issues, while he campaigned as Democrat Al Gore's vice presidential candidate, may haunt him after he resumes his senatorial duties, said one political consultant.

Prior to his union with Gore, Lieberman was, by most accounts, held in high esteem by both Democrats and Republicans, touted as a moral leader, steadfast in his beliefs.

During the campaign season, however, many believed his views on abortion, affirmative action, and school choice changed to reflect the more liberal rhetoric of his running mate.

At one point, Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, even agreed to meet with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whose public comments had often been labeled "anti-semitic." Lieberman changed his mind about the meeting after absorbing a pounding from critics, but defended his strategy anyway.

"My feeling has been, if I meet with Minister Farrakhan, the worst is that he won't change. The best is that we'll begin a constructive dialogue in which he may help strengthen families and strengthen America."

Similar statements, along with his toned down criticism of Hollywood and the entertainment industry and his meeting with California Democratic Representative Maxine Waters to discuss affirmative action - after which he moderated his opposition to the policy - that disillusioned certain Lieberman supporters, Johnson said.

"Now that he has shown he's willing to do political double talk, that's going to be trouble for him," said Mark Johnson, a senior partner with Patriot Campaign Consulting in Virginia. "The media is going to be watching him, comparing his statements with ones he made earlier ... and anything he does will be scrutinized."

Some fellow senators will also likely view Lieberman now as a "player," or a tool to accomplish their legislative goals, as his willingness to compromise on key policy issues was demonstrated during the campaign, Johnson continued.

"All you have in politics is your word," he said. "I would say Lieberman's political career has lost a lot of its oomph."

Spokespersons for Lieberman and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) did not return telephone calls for comment.

But Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, discounted the views of those who say Lieberman's political career is on the downswing because of his campaign tactics. Cromartie did admit "it was too early to tell" with any certainty.

Lieberman might suffer a loss of respect among Republicans, Cromartie aid, but maintain his moral leadership role among Democrats.

"I think Lieberman has diminished himself among conservatives who may have admired him on certain issues," Cromartie said. "But he's always been a player ... been a loyal trooper and who knows, he could be on the ticket in 2004."

Lieberman's Dual Candidacy Spawns Connecticut Bill

In another development stemming from Lieberman's place on a national ticket, three Republican lawmakers in Connecticut say they will try to pass a law banning dual candidacies, something that would have prevented Lieberman from running for the vice presidency and his U.S. Senate seat at the same time.

The bill's sponsors say they have bipartisan support for the measure. Earlier this year, Democrats worried that if Lieberman had been elected vice president, his Senate seat would have gone to a Republican, since the Connecticut governor is Republican.

Wire services quote the chief sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Kevin DelGobbo, as saying, "Many, many Connecticut voters felt it was wrong for anyone to run for two federal offices because it meant that their vote might well have been wasted for one of those offices."

The bill in question would force candidates for president or vice president to drop out of races for lower offices after they are "officially nominated."

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