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Al Gore Chooses Senator Joe Lieberman as His Running MateAired August 7, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: You know, a funny thing happened to me on the way to the state AFL-CIO convention today.
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BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Joseph Lieberman, on the news that he is Al Gore's running mate. Will he make a difference for the Democrats?
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WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Gore's choice of Joe Lieberman is being described as bold and risky -- in other words, very un-Gore-like.
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JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Bill Schneider on the strategy behind Gore's choice.
SHAW: Plus, as George W. Bush pretends to turn a deaf ear, are his aides trying to kill the Gore-Lieberman ticket with kindness?
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.
WOODRUFF: Thanks for joining us.
In what seems to have become the obligatory leak before the official announcement, Al Gore's vice presidential choice became public today, assuring an extra day of media coverage of his newly tapped running mate, Senator Joseph Lieberman.
In the next hour, we will focus on Lieberman and on what he brings to the ticket, personally and politically.
First up, our John King.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 58-year-old senator settled into his new job even before the vice president called with the official offer.
Running mates have two basic roles: attack the opposition...
LIEBERMAN: The bottom line: When the working people of America look for a helping hand from the other party and the other ticket, they too often will receive the back of their hand.
KING: ... and plug the man atop the ticket.
LIEBERMAN: This choice is an easy choice, this contest is no contest. The right choice is Al Gore and the Democratic Party in the year 2000.
KING: The vice president settled on Lieberman late Sunday night and officially extended the offer early Monday afternoon.
LIEBERMAN: He asked me to -- if I would be his running mate this year. I said I was honored, I was humbled, I was grateful and I was excited to accept his offer.
KING: But Gore was playing coy until Tuesday's official announcement.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll pick someone who shares my values, who can be a good partner for me and who will join me in fighting for people and not the powerful.
KING: Lieberman will be the first Jew on a major party national ticket, a bold stroke Gore hopes helps him shed a cautious, play-it- safe image.
Senior Democratic and campaign sources tell CNN Gore's pick was shaped by the tone of the Republican National Convention, the efforts by the Bush-Cheney ticket to taint Gore with the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
RICHARD B. CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Gore will try to separate himself from his leader's shadow, but somehow we will never see one without thinking of the other.
KING: Lieberman was the first major Democrat to publicly condemn the president's conduct.
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LIEBERMAN: Such behavior is not just inappropriate: It is immoral and it is harmful, for it is sends a message of what is acceptable behavior to the larger American family, particularly to our children.
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KING: The senator's criticism of gratuitous sex and violence in the television and music industries is also viewed by Gore as a plus in reaching suburban mothers. PETER HART, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: More than anything else, it helps Al Gore establish his own set of values. And by picking Joe Lieberman, he says, I'm choosing somebody who is willing to stand up and be counted on moral issues.
KING: Sources familiar with the vice president's thinking say he decided in the end that Lieberman had more appeal to independents and moderate Republicans than the three other Democratic senators on his short list.
Those passed over did their best to mask any disappointment.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), NORTH CAROLINA: He's a great consumer advocate. He believes in the environment, fiscal responsibility -- I mean, these are things that I strongly believe in, so I think he's a great choice.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: A different model, I think that's the way to phrase it. And I respect that. And he asked me to be involved, and I obviously will continue to be involved.
KING: The vice president hopes his pick helps blunt the post- convention momentum of the Bush-Cheney ticket.
KING: But Gore's choice of Lieberman is also a reminder of the vice president's delicate political challenge: convincing voters he deserves a share of the credit for the strong economy and other Clinton administration successes, but not the blame for the president's personal failings -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: John, so with the selection of Lieberman, does this mean the Gore team is in place?
KING: There is already a vice presidential campaign team in place. Ironically, it has been sitting around here in Nashville the past 72 hours, waiting to find out who their candidate would be.
Tom Nides (ph) is the campaign manager. He was Mickey Kantor's chief of staff at the Commerce Department and as the U.S. trade representative. He is the campaign manager. He dates back to the Walter Mondale campaign.
And Kiki Moore, a woman who has worked for Bill Clinton and Al Gore and the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, from which Clinton, Gore and Lieberman all come, she will be the communications director. They are among the aides on a private jet bringing Lieberman to Nashville at this hour -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And John, we know that Gore has been working hard to shore up his support among organized labor, and we understand you've got some news on that front?
KING: We are told the vice president will receive, Democratic and labor sources tell us, he will receive the endorsement of the United Auto Workers within the next 72 hours. The UAW and the Teamsters were the two major unions that withheld their individual support when the AFL-CIO endorsed Gore many months ago. But we're told by labor and Democratic sources that UAW will come into the Democratic fold sometime later this week -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's John King, thanks very much -- Bernie.
SHAW: In a somewhat unusual political twist, the Bush campaign tried today to portray Lieberman as a reflection of what's good about the Republican ticket.
Our Candy Crowley is with Governor Bush in Texas.
QUESTION: Joe Lieberman, what do you think?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No comment.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Temporarily ceding the limelight to the Democrats, George Bush wouldn't play Monday, but his campaign was eager to strike a different chord than the full-blown assault leveled by Democrats when Bush selected Dick Cheney.
ARI FLEISCHER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, BUSH CAMPAIGN: The governor and Secretary Cheney both think very, very highly of Senator Lieberman. They think he's a man of great integrity, great intellect. He's a good man.
CROWLEY: "Part of changing the tone is to honor a good man when a good man is selected," said an aide.
Still, it's a dual-path approach. Praise No. 2 to get at No. 1.
Turning the Democrats criticism of Cheney's voting record on its head, Bush aides pulled out selected Lieberman votes designed to show key areas where Lieberman is closer to Bush than Gore.
The Connecticut senator has, for instance, supported pilot programs to test school vouchers, a missile defense system, parental consent before minors can get an abortion and product liability protection.
Bush aides say Gore has attacked Bush for some of these very same positions.
FLEISCHER,: That it does raise a question about how deeply Al Gore adheres to the statements he has made. Does he really believe those things he said, or does he just say them and hope that they stick politically?
CROWLEY: From a strategic standpoint, Bush aides think Lieberman's centrist positions could cause Gore more problems with the Democrats' liberal base. On Lieberman's outspoken criticism of President Clinton's behavior in the Monica Lewinsky mess, one Republican said: "Gore realizes what the rest of us know. He needs to disconnect with Bill Clinton."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a good decision. It was a bold decision. I'm not sure how happy Bill Clinton is going to be with the discussion, but if you look back at Gore's campaign for the last six or seven months, it's really the smartest thing he's done.
CROWLEY: In fact, both publicly and privately, Bush aides say this was a good pick by Al Gore. But in the end, they fall back on the conventional wisdom that voters do not vote for a candidate on the basis of his No. 2. In the end, said one Bush aide, this is a race between George Bush and Al Gore -- Bernie.
SHAW: But, Candy, were the Bush people surprised by this selection?
CROWLEY: Well, the name -- Lieberman's name had been out there, so they knew he was in the mix. They had watches. All of us had the rumors going back and forth and people going up and down. They were ready, Bernie, they had Lieberman's record, they knew what they wanted to pick out of it. They were on the spot as soon as Lieberman's name came out as the choice with a number of things in his record. So he was one of several that they thought were possible.
SHAW: Candy Crowley in Austin -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: While many observers are noting that Lieberman may help Gore separate himself from the president, Mr. Clinton spoke publicly today about other aspects of the senator's selection.
Nonetheless, as CNN's Major Garrett reports, the president is trying to help Gore's effort to put some distance between them.
MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No comment from the president on Lieberman's effect on the campaign, but plenty of praise for him as a senator.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's one of the most outstanding people in public life.
GARRETT: While the Lieberman choice is seen as an attempt to separate the vice president from the taint of the Lewinsky scandal, sources tell CNN that Democrats are urging Mr. Clinton to do even more, specifically to use his Democratic National Convention speech to absolve Gore of all blame for the sex scandal and the ensuing impeachment saga.
But that won't be easy.
Before the Senate impeachment vote, Gore lobbied Democratic senators and phoned key party supporters in the business community, and he made this memorable declaration the day the house impeached Mr. Clinton.
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GORE: What happened as a result does a great disservice to a man I believe will be regarded in the history books as one of our greatest presidents.
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GARRETT: As Gore began his quest for the White House, however, those words came back to haunt him and eventually led to a change in tune.
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GORE: I understand the disappointment and anger that you feel toward President Clinton, and I felt it myself.
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GARRETT: The president concedes his conduct has become a crucial political liability for Gore.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think a lot of people who may not like me may hold it against him. But I don't think you hold him responsible. I don't think mature people hold one person responsible for another person's conduct. Do you?
GARRETT (on camera): CNN has learned that a first draft of the president's convention speech contains no reference to the scandal or holding Gore blameless.
With less than a week to go before the convention, however, the debate in the White House continues.
Major Garrett, CNN, Edgartown, Massachusetts.
SHAW: And our Bill Schneider is here with his take on the new Democratic ticket.
SCHNEIDER: Well, Bernie, you know, Gore's choice of Joe Lieberman is being described as bold and risky: in other words, very un-Gore-like. Now, that's part of the strategy: make the voters take a whole new look at Al Gore.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): What does Lieberman do for Gore? He enables Gore to distance himself from Clinton's irresponsible personal behavior. Right now, the voters' personal opinion of Clinton is at its lowest level ever.
You know how the Republicans in Philadelphia kept bringing up the Clinton scandals? Well, this trumps anything the Republicans had to say.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: So, no matter how much the president or others may wish to compartmentalize the different spheres of his life, the inescapable truth is that the president's private conduct can and often does have profound public consequences.
SCHNEIDER: In fact, Lieberman was also an aggressive critic of White House fund-raising abuses, another problem Gore would like to distance himself from.
Lieberman is a true centrist, a moderate who can build coalitions. You know how the Republicans in Philadelphia kept trying to show how moderate they were? Well, this trumps anything the Republicans had to say.
LIEBERMAN: We did not see our role as simply defending the status quo of every government program that was ever created.
SCHNEIDER: A guy like that can reach independents and Republicans in a way Al Gore could never do.
Lieberman is deeply religious and a strong advocate of returning religious values to public life. Lieberman once said -- quote -- "We in government should look to religion as a partner, as I think the founders of our country did." Exactly the sentiments of the religious right.
Lieberman has the stature to debate Dick Cheney. He's written four books on public policy. He's an expert on defense issues and international affairs. He exemplifies integrity and moral authority.
You know how the Republicans in Philadelphia kept calling attention to their party's inclusiveness? Well, the first Jewish candidate on a national ticket trumps anything they had to say.
There are some downsides to having Lieberman on the ticket. He doesn't add anything geographically or demographically. Jewish voters and Northeastern voters tend to be heavily Democratic.
Like Cheney, Lieberman has a voting record, which will be heavily scrutinized.
LIEBERMAN: It's a very interesting question...
SCHNEIDER: He's a somewhat plodding speaker, who does not project a dynamic or vigorous personality.
And there's one great unknown: Will Americans vote for a Jewish vice president?
SCHNEIDER: More than 90 percent told the Gallup poll last year they would vote for a qualified Jewish candidate for a president. Now, that's different than a Jewish candidate for vice president. But still, do people even know how they would react if the choice became a real one? Well, this year it is. And here's an interesting side effect to the Lieberman choice. It could save Hillary Clinton in New York by rallying that state's considerable Jewish vote to the Democratic ticket -- Bernie.
SHAW: Thank you, Bill Schneider -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: more on whether the Connecticut senator's faith will become a campaign issue. A look at some initial reactions when we return.
SHAW: Al Gore's decision to put Senator Joseph Lieberman on the Democratic ticket raises a question American voters have faced before: Should a candidate's faith be at issue?
Brian Palmer reports.
BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 1960: The question was, would Americans vote a Catholic into the White House?
JOHN F. KENNEDY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think it'll be a matter of discussion, and I think it'll be in the press, and among political leaders it'll be a matter of substantial discussion. Among the voters, I would think it's a matter of less importance.
PALMER: Forty years later, they're being asked if they're ready to elect a Jewish person to the second-highest office in the land, Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman.
LIEBERMAN: My faith is part of me. It's at the center of who I've been all my life. I mean, I know that without, you know, God, I wouldn't be here. So, that's where it all begins.
PALMER: Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, is forbidden from working and using certain forms of transportation on the sabbath, but that hasn't interfered with his duties, say supporters.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Will he miss a few days campaigning for religious observance this fall, for the Jewish high holy days? Yes, and I think people will respect that.
PALMER: There are also exceptions.
ABRAHAM FOXMAN, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: The church tradition puts a value, a very significant value on security and life, and therefore, you can even violate some of the precepts of the sabbath is if it is to save life or to act on behalf of the security of the nation.
PALMER: For some, the big issue is a nonissue in the voting booth. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I wasn't going to vote for Gore, but I am now, because that means he's very inclusive. For the first time, we see someone who says, "Let me see what this man has done, let me see his background, and then let me choose him."
PALMER: But skeptics say an angry minority might vote against the Gore/Lieberman ticket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel that his choice of a Jewish person is going to cost Al Gore the election, because there is so much hate groups, anti-semitism in this country.
MALCOLM HOENLEIN, CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS OF MAJOR AMERICAN JEWISH ORGANIZATION: Will there be a backlash? Certainly there could be one, but I think that racists and bigots and anti-semites don't need excuses. They're there. Maybe they'll come out from under the rocks and the sunlight will do them some good.
PALMER (on camera): One indicator of how Lieberman may fare on a national stage is the past. In a state where 3 percent of the population is Jewish, Lieberman won re-election with 67 percent of all ballots cast.
Brian Palmer, CNN, New York.
WOODRUFF: And joining us now from New York, our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Hi.
WOODRUFF: Since we -- since we've just listened to that report on the fact that Lieberman is Jewish and questions about whether it will have an effect, what do you think at this point? Is there any way to know whether the fact that he's Jewish will have any -- will play a role one way or another?
GREENFIELD: There's no way to know. All we can do is look at the past, and apart from the fact that you just heard, that Lieberman has been re-elected by a landslide majority in a state with almost no Jewish population, that's been true in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. Four of those six senators are Jewish. Neither of them have an overwhelmingly Jewish population.
I also think the idea this will rally the Jewish vote misconceives what's going on. The Jewish vote is almost always overwhelmingly Democratic, and Jewish voters vote out of all proportion to their numbers in terms of turnout. I mean, it's almost like a religious obligation.
And you look at a state like Florida: 6 percent of the vote in 1996 was Jewish. Bill Clinton got 86 percent of it. And to be blunt, you just can't turn out that many more Jewish voters. They don't exist. They vote already, and they vote heavily Democratic.
So I think it's fascinating. It's going to give late night comedians about three days worth of joke, I'm sure, many of them tasteless, but I'm not sure we know what that political impact is.
WOODRUFF: Well, more broadly speaking, Jeff, what does this choice say about how Al Gore views the task ahead of him?
GREENFIELD: It shows two things. One, it shows that he really -- as Bill Schneider suggests -- wanted a pick that could be seen as bold, because he's seen by some as such a cautious, plotting fellow. And second, it reinforces what was going on in Philadelphia. I mean, why would you take a president with these job approval ratings, which are at record highs for a two-term president and do as the Republicans did, try to wrap Clinton around his neck: because there's a part of the Clinton legacy -- if you want to call it that -- that is very unpleasant.
And in picking the man who most boldly and first denounced Clinton on the floor of the Senate, Gore is making a statement.
WOODRUFF: Someone said to me, Jeff, that, in a way, this is like a Democratic John McCain, that Lieberman is not as conservative as his reputation. Does that strike a chord with you?
GREENFIELD: Well, he is -- again, Bill Schneider got it dead on. Joe Lieberman is a centrist. He is one of the key players in the Democratic Leadership Council, a group that was formed at the end of the '80s to move the Democrats away from what they considered a suicidal liberalism. The only people who I think are likely to be angry by this pick are kind of hard-core liberal-left Democrats.
But he is not conservative on traditional Democratic issues like domestic spending. But it is very interesting -- and you heard earlier in the program the Bush campaign fall all over themselves praising Lieberman -- it's because, in a lot of ways, if Al Gore tries to attack Bush for his voucher plan, Joe Lieberman voted for it. If they try to imply that there is a personal attack going on with that kind of restore decency and integrity to the White House, Joe Lieberman was tougher on the president than the Republicans are.
I tell you something, Judy, I wouldn't be shocked if somewhere in this campaign, the Republicans, the Republicans took Joe Lieberman's Senate speech of September, 1998 and made an ad out of it, saying: How come the vice presidential candidate had the guts to say what the presidential candidate never did? It's a fascinating pick.
WOODRUFF: Jeff, you went to law school with Senator Lieberman...
WOODRUFF: ... in the late '60s to Yale.
WOODRUFF: What you can tell us about this man? GREENFIELD: Well, it's very funny. Joe's nickname in Yale Law School was senator, because he was fascinated by politics. He had written a book as an undergraduate about the life of John Bailey, the old Connecticut leader or boss. We all knew he had a political career. And here is one of the great ironies. Joe was a much more cautious, temporizing -- if I can use that word -- fellow in law school than he turned out to be in the Senate.
Most people, as they get older, get more cautious. Joe was very reluctant to get the young Democrats on record opposing the Vietnam War. He wanted to protect himself. And so -- if I can quote myself at our law school reunion a couple years ago -- I said, you know: We all knew Joe Lieberman was going to be a senator, but a respected senator, this was a surprise. That was said humorously.
But the fact is that he became a much more individualistic, say- what-he-means kind of guy than I ever would have thought in law school.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield, we will see you later. Thank you.
GREENFIELD: Yes, ma'am.
WOODRUFF: All right.
And much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.
SHAW: Still to come:
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LIEBERMAN: I can't help but think about the steps along the way that got me here.
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SHAW: A closer look at the number two on the Democratic ticket, and his political career thus far.
WOODRUFF: What does a Gore-Lieberman ticket mean for the general election? We will ask Beth Fouhy and Jacob Weisberg.
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BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now comes Joe Lieberman, the first Jew ever on a national ticket. Will that matter?
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SHAW: Our Bruce Morton on the politics of being first.
WOODRUFF: We will have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.
Telephone customers from Maine to Virginia felt some effects today from the strike against Verizon Communications. Thousands of workers picketed as talks continued between the phone giant and two labor unions. Consumers waited to get through to operators and to get repair work done. Talks resumed at 8:00 a.m. today after a 16-hour negotiating session on Sunday.
SHAW: United Airlines is blaming labor problems and weather woes for the cancellation of more than 160 flights today. Pilots have refused overtime since their contract expired in April. Flights that did take off were jammed with travelers affected by hundreds of weekend cancellations at Chicago's O'Hare airport.
Julie Enrouge (ph) of CNN affiliate Chicagoland TV reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am furious and I'm exhausted and I think at the very least I should be confirmed on this flight.
JULIE ENROUGE, CLTV REPORTER (voice-over): Marilyn Rousilich (ph) is waiting to pick her kids up from camp. It's been a month since she's seen them. United is going to make that wait even longer today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Been here since 5:00 in the morning waiting for an 8:00 flight to Rylander, to pick up my children, and that flight was canceled.
ENROUGE: Marilyn's not alone, United has been canceling hundreds of flights since Friday. The Elk Grove Village-based airline says weather is the main problem, a line that isn't flying with many passengers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're playing games. They're telling us it's weather. I just think it's pilots just not doing their job .
ENROUGE: A United spokesman went on to blame a strained air traffic control environment for the backlog of flights, dismissing the unfinished business between the airline and its pilots. Passengers say all they want is a ticket out of town and the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we talk about air rage, and this is why we have it. You know, nobody's telling us the truth. If you're going to be late, delayed three hours, tell me, call me at home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some common respect to customers in advance notice and being informed by telephone, at least, that something has been changed. And you're on your own. You are literally on your own when you walk out the door to head out to the airport.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SHAW: United Airlines and its pilots union are in negotiations with a federal mediator. They hope to have a new agreement by early September.
WOODRUFF: The victims of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa are being remembered today. Ceremonies were held in Nairobi, Kenya, and in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, marking the second anniversary of the bombings that killed more than 220 people. At the State Department in Washington, flags were lowered to half staff in memory of the victims.
SHAW: Much of the Western United States remains a tinderbox today. At least 65 major wildfires are burning across the region. Among the worst is the 5,000-acre blaze in the Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Authorities are calling for more help in battling that fire.
When INSIDE POLITICS returns, the moral influence on Joseph Lieberman's political record.
WOODRUFF: Now that Joseph Lieberman has been tapped to be Al Gore's running mate, the Connecticut Democrat's Senate record is getting intense scrutiny.
As our Jonathan Karl reports, some common threads run through many of Lieberman's votes and views.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joe Lieberman's rise is that of a centrist politician and party loyalist, who has made moral character central to his politics. From his first run for the Senate 12 years ago, Lieberman was a conservative favorite, gaining the enthusiastic support of conservative stalwart William F. Buckley, who endorsed him over liberal Republican Lowell Weicker. Buckley wrote -- quote -- "If politics is heavily a matter of character, then many independents and even some Republicans will say: Better a Democratic Lieberman than a Republican Weicker."
He was right, although Lieberman won by a margin so narrow Weicker demanded a recount.
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LIEBERMAN: I respect his right to do whatever he wants at this point. We're just going to follow the law.
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KARL: From the start, Lieberman stood to the right of his party on key issues.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Lieberman, aye.
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KARL: In 1991, he was just one of 10 Democrats, including Al Gore, to support President George Bush's use of force in the Gulf War.
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LIEBERMAN: The president has acted wisely, courageously, and well, and now we just hope and pray that it will go successfully and quickly.
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KARL: He's also supported a moment of silence in public schools and pilot programs using school vouchers.
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LIEBERMAN: We can't be about punishing children by forcing them to stay in schools that are not giving them the opportunity for a good education.
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KARL: And Lieberman has also joined with Republican moralist Bill Bennett in a crusade against excessive violence and gratuitous sex in movies, music and videogames.
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LIEBERMAN: Obscene and pornographic rap and rock music has come to a neighborhood record store near you, and your sons or daughters may have CDs or cassettes in their room right now that contain lyrics that promote rape, murder, racism, drug abuse, and violence against women and children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: He cited his crusade against immorality in Hollywood when he became the first Senate Democrat to criticize Bill Clinton for his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, and for lying about it.
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LIEBERMAN: In choosing this path, I fear that the president has undercut the efforts of millions of American parents who are naturally trying to instill in our children the value of honesty. As most any mother and father knows, kids have a singular ability to detect double standards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: But Lieberman has also been a party loyalist, scoring high marks from liberal groups for his voting record, supporting President Clinton's 1993 tax increase, voting a against a ban on so-called "partial birth abortion," and consistently supporting both environmental protections and gun control.
(on camera): Despite his reputation as a moderate, Lieberman is drawing praise from his party's liberal wing. In a statement, Senator Ted Kennedy called him -- quote -- "a giant in the Senate who has worked brilliantly, effectively and tirelessly to promote the highest values of public service and integrity."
Jonathan Karl, CNN, Capitol Hill.
SHAW: Two Connecticut politicians join us to talk more about Senator Lieberman: Republican Governor John Rowland and Democratic Congressman Sam Gejdenson. Gentlemen, the same question to each of you, starting with the governor. Who and what is Joseph Lieberman to you? -- Governor.
GOV. JOHN ROWLAND (R), CONNECTICUT: I would say a great friend and a colleague. I think Sam Gejdenson would probably have the same answer. He's someone that's easy to work with, someone I've enjoyed knowing for probably the last 20 years, and an excellent choice. We'll get into it a little bit more, but I think there's a lot of reasons that he was chosen. But it was clearly a good choice for Al Gore, and we're honored to have him as the candidate coming from Connecticut, even though he's on the other side of the aisle.
REP. SAM GEJDENSON (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes, I agree with the governor, and clearly this is somebody that reaches across the political spectrum. Somebody that both Bill Bennett and Ted Kennedy can work with is someone who will get great support in the country.
I think it also speaks a lot about Al Gore and his courage to pick somebody who's breaking new ground, but also someone who is competent in areas of foreign policy, domestic policy, strong on the environment, a good understanding of foreign policy.
This is a great addition, a great choice by Al Gore.
SHAW: Governor Rowland, how do Republicans defend against this ticket?
ROWLAND: I think this is where Sam and I disagree. Bottom line is that I think there's been a subcampaign going on for the vice presidency, and that is to find somebody that can help Gore distance himself from Bill Clinton. I think we recognize in the polls the question now is on character and moral leadership, and clearly, the reason they selected Joe Lieberman was because of what he has done in the Senate and most importantly because of his criticism of Bill Clinton.
So what's happens is this: Al Gore cannot criticize the president himself. He has great difficulty distancing himself since he's been his vice president for eight years. I call him the Achilles' heel of the campaign. But by picking Joe Lieberman, it starts to create some distance and at least starts to answer the questions of moral leadership and character.
For that reason, I think Joe Lieberman was selected. I think it will probably help Al Gore a lot. But the bottom line is that people vote for the presidency. They don't vote for vice president. They vote for the person at the top of the ticket.
Last week, we were excited about Dick Cheney. This week, we'll be excited about Joe Lieberman. And then we'll be back to Al Gore versus George W. Bush, and those are the two candidates people will be looking at the most.
SHAW: Congressman Gejdenson, on that point, strategically, in your judgment, what does this ticket do for the Democrats?
GEJDENSON: Well, what it does is it strengthens a very strong ticket to begin with. I think the difference here is George W. Bush takes Mr. Cheney, a right-wing Republican even by right-wing standards, very conservative, against any kind of gun control, plastic guns, armor-piercing bullets. Al Gore picks a centrist, Joe Lieberman, who has broad appeal throughout the country. And it talks about one candidate looking backwards, George W. Bush, going to his father's administration to surround himself with Dick Cheney and others from the former Bush administration; Al Gore looking to the future, picking Joe Lieberman, picking a whole new kind of individual. And putting him at the top of the Democratic, I think it really strengthens Al Gore and it builds the kind of partnership that we want in the White House.
SHAW: Who is the better campaigner, better debater? -- Governor.
ROWLAND: Between Cheney and Lieberman? I'd -- or between Lieberman and Gore? I think all the candidates except for George W. are somewhat subtle. I think you're going to see some debate at the vice presidential level that might be borderline boring. But both VP candidates are very credible people. They've been great public statesmen of their own party.
And so I think either way the American people don't lose. I happen to believe our Republican team is slightly stronger, slightly better. But I think what's going to happen is this: Right now, it's coming down to a credibility issue, and I think all campaigns are based on either stay the course, if you happen to be the incumbent, or it's time for a change. And I think the American people are ready for a change.
SHAW: Congressman, better debater and campaigner?
GEJDENSON: Well, he's definitely a better debater. I think it's going to be hard for the Bush people to argue they're the instrument of change, again, going back to his father's administration.
I think the one place that Joe Lieberman has been underestimated by the press is his debating skill. He's not a fiery orator, but he's somebody who is incredibly bright, started with a family, in a small blue-collar family, got to Yale, graduated Yale at the top of his class, I think. He was editor of the major paper at the Yale. I just want to put a plug in: My wife worked on his first campaign when he ran for the state Senate. This is somebody who is a very solid campaigner and he is going to do incredibly well in the debate. He's not a fiery orator, but he's very solid and he's very smart.
SHAW: Governor, why did you say borderline boring?
ROWLAND: Well, because if you watch his speaking style -- I tell this to him directly -- borderline boring, I was referring to both Cheney and Lieberman. Both are very quiet, subtle, thoughtful candidates and thoughtful public servants.
SHAW: Is that bad?
ROWLAND: I don't think it's bad at all. I am just answering your question as to what the style is going to be like. And I think that might be good for the civility of the campaign. But the bottom line is still what happens at the top. No one votes for vice president, they vote for president. As I started to say earlier, I still believe that people want a change and Al Gore has been there for eight years. He is trying right now to figure out how he can distance himself from Bill Clinton. And I don't think it's going to work.
SHAW: And lastly to you for the remaining seconds Congressman Gejdenson.
GEJDENSON: Well, I think when you at the economy, you look at these two individuals, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, the American people are going to see a combination that will continue a strong economy and bring this country forward on ethical issues, on foreign policy, and defense. It's going to give the American people the kind of confidence many of us knew they would have in Al Gore from the beginning.
Governor, it's great being on with you.
ROWLAND: Thanks, Sam.
SHAW: They're both from Connecticut, Congressman Sam Gejdenson on and Governor John Rowland.
Gentlemen, thanks very, very much.
GEJDENSON: Thank you.
ROWLAND: Thank you.
SHAW: You're quite welcome.
And just ahead, Judy will talk with Beth Fouhy and Jacob Weisberg about how Al Gore's decision changes the battle for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
WOODRUFF: Joining us now, Jacob Weisberg of Slate.com, and the executive producer of CNN's political unit, Beth Fouhy.
Hello to you both.
BETH FOUHY, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, CNN POLITICAL UNIT: Hi, Judy.
JACOB WEISBERG, SLATE.COM: Hello, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Hello, Beth, to you first. Is this a smart move on Vice President Gore's part?
FOUHY: Well, the consensus seems to be that it's a very smart move. I can look at it from the Republican perspective, though, and hearken back to a line that George W. Bush used last week at the convention, a very devastating line describing Gore as running in borrowed clothes. In effect, he's running in the ultimate borrowed clothes. He's borrowing Joe Lieberman's clothes. He's borrowing the cloak of integrity, the cloak of nonpartisanship.
And whether it's fair or not to characterize Gore in the way like Governor Bush has done, it's still a good for Gore to separate himself, as everyone has said, from his liabilities. But it also does looks like he's just assuming the mantle of somebody who is completely without the problems that Gore has struggled against all this time.
WOODRUFF: Jacob Weisberg, is that what Gore is doing here essentially?
WEISBERG: Well, I think he's doing two things. I think he's taking the opportunity to create a pivot in his campaign, which he badly need. He needs to pivot politically, which means positioning in his campaign more to the center. And Joe Lieberman, who is associated with the Democratic Leadership Council, who is a moderate of longstanding, allows him to do that.
And the other thing it allows him to do is change the tone of his campaign. Gore has been too shrill. And Lieberman is anything but shrill as a candidate.
WOODRUFF: Beth, is it also a defensive move? I mean, you are really suggesting this. I mean, in bringing somebody in, the senator who was the first Democrat to openly criticize the president, is Gore playing defense here?
FOUHY: I think he has to, Judy. I mean, again, whether it's fair or not, Gore is tarred with two very damaging things. One is the integrity issue just by being connected to President Clinton, and number two, the fact that Republicans constantly are characterizing Gore and Clinton as too political, too partisan, that they are so engaged into just partisan backbiting, partisan sniping, that nothing good gets done in Washington.
Joe Lieberman, if there is anybody in Washington, who doesn't fit that mold, it is him. He -- as we've seen from guests, as we have seen from our reporting today, he is widely liked, respected by both Republicans and Democrats, for being a consensus builder. That is something -- that is really a big step that Gore needs to take to show that he actually can accomplish things here in Washington, not just get bogged down in partisanship.
WOODRUFF: Jacob, what are the potential negatives with the Lieberman choice?
WEISBERG: Well, I think the fact that he's an Orthodox Jew and the first Jew on a national ticket is not necessarily negative. But it is, as Ed Rendell said, I think, fairly a great unknown. Nobody knows what effect it could have. It could have a negative effect, if it turns out that parts of the country that Gore might otherwise run strongly in simply are not prepared to vote for a Jewish vice presidential candidate.
But it could have a positive effect in swing states where there are a lot of Jewish voters. And Lieberman's selection may bring them out in force.
FOUHY: And it also really gives Gore the impression of being somebody who is much stronger than a lot of people might have given him credit for. He's always seemed very cautious, except when he is just in his attack-dog mode. And his other choices, when he's so careful about what to say all the time, and how to act, and how to move, here is something that is very dramatic, which we are not used to Gore doing. And I think that speaks to a lot of people, particularly people like Bill Bradley supporters, John McCain supporters, who looking for somebody to do something bold, something dynamic, not somebody just to follow the script.
WOODRUFF: Jacob, what about the talk coming out of the Bush camp that this will give them an opportunity to point out how Lieberman has voted more in line with Bush's thinking on a number of votes than he has with Gore?
WEISBERG: Well, first of all, I'm not sure that is true. Gore voted the same way Lieberman did on the Gulf War. They are certainly aligned on foreign policy. It is true that Lieberman had supported an experiment with voucher choice in education, which is one clear difference. Although Bush himself has not come out explicitly for voucher choice in education. I think what was interesting, though, was that you saw the initial reaction of the Bush campaign, they sent out a press release today, essentially praising the choice, saying that perhaps Lieberman was more like Bush than he was like Gore, but saying that he was admired by both Bush and Cheney.
That's the kind of reaction that I think it would be helpful to see from the Gore campaign once in a while, to let something go every now and then.
WOODRUFF: Beth, you have spent -- I know, a couple of times when you have been on this program, you have talked about how Gore has still needed to continue to work to shore up the Democratic base. Lieberman doesn't really do that though, does he?
FOUHY: Well, it's really hard to say. I mean, it's true that he doesn't vote in the traditional liberal orthodoxies all the time, although he does have a fairly solid standing with those groups. He is not in danger of being attacked as being too conservative like some of the other candidates Al Gore was looking at as possible running mates. I think, though, the fact he is a Jewish candidate is a huge step toward inclusion and it's going to be very hard for any liberal Democratic groups really to come out against that.
That is the strongest statement Al Gore could have made toward reaching out and doing something that truly talks about inclusion and talking about the sort of the the real test of Democrats, which is to do something for everybody.
WOODRUFF: All right, Beth Fouhy, Jacob Weisberg, thank you, both. We appreciate it.
And up next, the ground-breaking candidates: Bruce Morton with some thoughts on being a political first.
SHAW: In the hours since Al Gore chose his running mate, there's been much talk about Joseph Lieberman's distinction as the first Jewish vice presidential candidate.
WOODRUFF: In that role, Lieberman now joins a small group of people known for political firsts.
Bruce Morton takes a look at how the others fared.
MORTON (voice-over): Democrat Al Smith was the first Roman Catholic presidential nominee in 1928. He lost. John Kennedy was the second in 1960.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I will be worthy of your trust. We will carry the fight to the people in the fall and we shall win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: And he did win, though he had to go to Texas and assure a gathering of Protestant ministers that as president he would not take orders from the pope. We've seen black candidates run and win statewide: Douglas Wilder as governor of Virginia, for example, though he won by much less than the polls predicted.
KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: Almost inevitably you have to take three or four points, sometimes five or six points, off of where that candidate is in the last poll in order to get an accurate assessment of how many votes he's actually going to pick up.
MORTON: The first woman on a national ticket? Geraldine Ferraro, Walter Mondale's running mate against Ronald Reagan in 1984. But she was something of a special case: relatively inexperienced, dogged by questions about her husband's business dealings. STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think when a selection is clearly a token pick, I think the voters see right through that. In fact, I think the Ferraro pick may have hurt the Democratic chances in the presidential race.
MORTON: Now comes Joe Lieberman, clearly no token, the first Jew ever on a national ticket. Will that matter?
HOLLAND: Forty years ago, a majority of Americans felt perfectly free to say that they would never vote for a Jew for president. Today, only about 3 percent say that they would never vote for a Jew for president. The same is true for Catholics, blacks, women. Part of the reason is, I'm sure, that the country has gotten more tolerant. Part of the reason also is probably that respondents to polls have gotten a little more touchy about giving a socially unacceptable answer on a telephone to a stranger.
ROTHENBERG: I think there will be a handful of voters who will hold Joe Lieberman's religion against him, but I think for the electorate as a whole that will be a factor far, far down the line. And I think that in an interesting, odd way, Al Gore can be said to have done something bold and assertive, to have demonstrated some leadership, an area where he's been weak, by picking Lieberman.
MORTON: One other point: Lieberman is today's headline. But presidential elections have almost always been about the candidates for president, not their running mates, and there's no great reason to think this one will be different.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
SHAW: And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you again tomorrow when our John King will be in Nashville for Vice President Gore's formal announcement of Senator Joseph Lieberman as his running mate. And of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's Allpolitics.com.
WOODRUFF: And this programming note: tonight on a special edition of CNN "NEWSSTAND," a look at the Democratic ticket, including a report by Chris Black on Cheney versus Lieberman, how they differ on the issues. That's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
SHAW: And I'm Bernard Shaw. "WORLDVIEW" is next.
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